LEADERSHIP | Nonprofit Leaders: Stop Waiting Until It's Too Late

publication date: Sep 27, 2022
author/source: Sheree Allison

Lately I'm seeing a universal theme among many nonprofit leaders: Regret

Regret that they didn't address critical issues in their organization until it's too late. Issues that have been there for years in most cases. 

  • Programs and projects (barely) running on fumes because there is simply no money, and there hasn't been for a very long time 
  • Rogue Board members controlling or undermining key decisions that impact every aspect of the organization 
  • Disruptive staff members showing up to engage everyone in nonsense instead of doing the work they are paid for

 Closing your eyes, covering your ears, and hoping your issues are going away is not a strategy. 

It is the behaviour of a leader who decided to be a victim. 

One of the fundamental attributes of a true leader is confronting problems and taking action, even when it's unpleasant. 

So many nonprofit leaders do this thing where they put on a happy face, whistle a happy tune, and keep the language positive... while their organization is burning to the ground. 

They spend years ignoring the most glaring issues - until it's too late. 

Hard Truth #1: The issues you're ignoring are never going away.

The money woes aren't going away. Money is what fuels a mission. As long as you have a mission to fulfill, you will need money. 

Your Board woes aren't going away. As long as you lead a nonprofit, you will have to work with a Board. 

Your staff woes aren't going away. As long as you lead a nonprofit, you will need people to do the work that fulfills the mission. 

You can accept these realities, or you can live with the consequences of ignoring these realities. 

Hard Truth #2: Right now is the easiest it's ever going to get. 

The longer you choose inaction, the deeper the hole you will eventually have to dig yourself out of and the more damage you will have to repair. 

Don't wait until the coffers are empty. Go right now and ask. 

Don't wait until that rogue Board member has dominion over the Board Chair, the rest of the Boardroom AND the community. Go right now, confront it, and stop it. 

Don't wait until that disruptive staff member infects everyone in the building. Go right now, confront it, and stop it. 

Stop waiting until you're drowning to start learning how to swim. By then, it's probably too late.


Sheree Allison merges the worlds of fundraising, marketing, and leadership combined with an entrepreneurial spirit to train and develop nonprofit leaders who are committed to building a world class organization. Connect and learn more about her "rags to riches" nonprofit success story, her book, and her weekly column at www.shereeallison.com.

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