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Four Flaws of Nonprofit Thinking: What’s Wrong with Being Busy?

Read the previous post in this series on the four flaws of nonprofit thinking, “What’s wrong with working hard?” and watch the video about being busy vs. being proactive.

There are four major flaws in nonprofit thinking, and the final one is being busy.

I went on a trip that I called the “Great Western Tour,” where I was meeting with four different nonprofits on the West Coast. When I rent a car, I generally like to rent a Prius because they have great gas mileage and are pretty comfortable. However, at the end of my tour, I knew I would be going through Snoqualmie Pass.

Snoqualmie Pass is a mountain pass in Washington state, and on average they get around thirty feet of snow a year. The weather is unpredictable and often treacherous. So, even though it was at the end of my journey, I got a vehicle with four-wheel drive, higher clearance, and thick tires. And I’m glad I did, because it was a snowy, treacherous night when I went through Snoqualmie Pass!

Being busy is a major excuse I hear from people when it comes to planning ahead for a nonprofit. They are so overrun with day-to-day operations that all their time is devoted to the present. So, when projects come up like needing a new building or expanding their program, they aren’t ready.

When I rented the car, my current problem was gas mileage. If I had only been thinking about “today,” I would have gotten the Prius, which would have been DISASTROUS for the pass. But I thought ahead and got a vehicle which would be the best for my biggest future problem: the pass.

There are a lot of “tomorrow” problems. What if you suddenly need more space? What if your director resigns without notice? What if your community needs change? Financially, you need to start planning now for what you may need in the future.

Like spring, summer, fall, and winter, a nonprofit goes through many seasons. This is what I call the “Growth Cycle.” It has four stages: plan, prepare, grow, and sustain. A vibrant organization lives out the Growth Cycle. They are continually planning for a future goal, preparing to make that goal a reality, attaining that goal and growing as an organization, and then sustaining that growth.

It’s a proactive cycle that will help you plan and prepare for future problems that might arise. Then, when problems do come, there won’t be a crisis situation.

Don’t sacrifice tomorrow for the busy-ness of today.

Stay tuned for my next blog post, and I’ll tell you how to change your thinking.

Vibrancy planning is a great way to help your nonprofit get off the crisis-reactive-mode hamster wheel. DBA consultant, Brent Hafele, can help you plan and prepare for a more vibrant future.

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