Dr. A's Trickbag

Dr. A’s Trickbag and Stuff: December 6

This week: As the year draws to a close, a bit of introspection and review this week.

Heads Up: We should have learned this in kindergarten.

Okay, people; we have all seen the news, and if you haven’t heard today, Time Magazine designated the women who have stepped up about sexual harassment and misconduct as the “Person of the Year.” We have seen a wave of clarity in business, entertainment and the arts, journalism, and even lapping at the edges of politics. We can hope, cautiously, that some new and more lasting awareness that a 6 hour sexual harassment training webinar might come of all of this.

But we have yet to see a major figure or organization in the non-profit sector go down in flames. We will. In the non-profit like to see ourselves as agents of change, as the cutting edge of concern, as fighting the good fight; but we are simply another bunch of organizations at all scales in all places made up of people.

It may well be that by definition much of the non-profit sector is more humane, more sensitive, more aware of all kinds of interpersonal dynamics. That’s great, but we – our organizations and the people in them—are no more immune to either momentary or ingrained stupidity than anyone else. Let’s do everything we can to make sure that Lexington is not where a non-profit, big or small, crashes over what we all, us guys in particular, should have learned in kindergarten.

Thinking back, thinking ahead.

There is a new year coming, and it promises to be a best unsettling and chaotic for many of us. But as Joel Barker, one of my favorite futurist authors says. “The future may always surprise us, it needn’t dumbfound us.”

He was of course writing before 2016, but he was writing about front-line management anyway, so the thought still counts. There are still actually surprises you can prevent and futures you can shape at the ground level. So let me leave you this year with a series of questions that I have explored in regard to development over the last couple of years and will revisit in the future.

Do you think strategically? Do you have consensus on a clears strategic case statement? Mission: This is our purpose. Capabilities: This is what we can do. Sustainability: This is how we will sustain ourselves. Do you weight everyday actions and opportunities against your strategic purpose?

Do you deliberately budget? Do you know much do you need? Do you know much should come from operations? Do you know how much must come from development?

Do you have a development plan? Do you know how much you need to raise? Do you have a grants calendar? Do you have a suspense calendar for applications? Do you have a suspense calendar for reports?

Do you have a donor management plan? Is your donor list updated for accuracy? Do you have a regular communication plan for old and new donors?

Are you spending some time to think ahead? Do you set aside time to search for new funding sources? Do you work to identify and engage new strategtic partners? Do you set aside a little bit of time to consider how the future will may affect your mission and your constituencies?

Taken step at a time, this is not rocket science. It is just common, comprehensive sensibility.

Wishing you all a holiday season and a new year in which you, your organizations, and those you serve can find joy and hope.


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