The Human Society’s Cautionary #MeToo Tale

(Photo: The Human Society Headquarters in Washington, DC. Credit: AgnosticPreachersKid via Wikipedia, Creative Commons)

As we have previously discussed on Nonprofit Pro Media, the #MeToo movement has pushed sexual harassment at the workplace squarely into the spotlight. Across a number of industries, perpetrators whose behavior went unchecked for decades are now facing accountability for abusing their power. The nonprofit sector, however, has yet to fully reckon with its own culture of sexual harassment.

This was painfully on display last month when the Humane Society bungled its response to credible allegations that the organization’s now former CEO Wayne Pacelle had sexually harassed female employees.

Pacelle — who had helmed the widely respected animal welfare organization for over a decade — purportedly force-kissed a former intern and requested that a female employee watch him masterbate. The accusations against him, which include other alarming behaviors, extend back to 2005.

In a shocking move, the Human Society’s board decided to abruptly scuttle the investigation into the allegations out of deference for Pacelle. Rick Bernthal, the chairman of the board, explained the reasoning behind the decision in a statement:

Many of the allegations were explosive in nature, and reading or hearing about them is a shock to anyone. It was to us, too. But when we sifted through the evidence presented, we did not find that many of these allegations were supported by credible evidence.

Despite defending the board’s vote, Bernthal acknowledged that three of Pacelle’s accusers received severance packages upon leaving the organization, qualifying that “there was no motivation . . . to silence women.”

The backlash was swift; volunteers and staff spoke out, and high-level associates announced that they would not renew contracts. Not long after the upheaval, Pacelle stepped down.

The end result — the departure of a controversial CEO — occurred despite the board’s efforts to thwart change. The effort to safeguard Pacelle only made matters worse. Seven board members quit in protest over the initial decision to end the investigation, and the organization’s name has been dragged through the mud. Now, the Human Society’s top levels are in disarray and it has a massive public relations disaster on its hands. This mess underscores that nonprofits suffer from leaders who abuse power not unlike their for-profit counterparts.

Nonprofit leaders: do what is right. Donors: demand that those whose actions are ill-reputed be held accountable. Heed the cultural moment and value your workers rather than digging in your heels for the sake of familiarity. Your organization’s success depends on it.

In Historic Reversal of Policy, Met to Start Charging Admission Fees

Branding is just as important for nonprofits as it is for private enterprises. In today’s marketplace, nonprofits are up against stiff competition from a variety of industries for consumers’ attention, and effective communications are nearly impossible without a public identity that your constituents can understand and recognize.

One major U.S. institution just reversed perhaps its most notable policy, and the price its brand will pay in the long run is uncertain.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (more popularly known as “the Met”) has been free to the public since the 1970s – that is, until now. Organizational leadership has announced that non-New York residents will now have to pay a $25 fee to enter.

Residing inside a publicly owned building, the Met is the largest art museum in the country, and its nearly 50 years of pay-what-you-want entry fees contributed to its international stature and cemented its identity as a truly democratic cultural resource.

During a visit in September, I participated in the pay-what-you-want system and gave the Met $25. In theory, visitors who can afford this recommended fee offset the cost for others who cannot readily pay. Some critics suggest that the museum did not effectively communicate this concept over the years.

Museum officials have cited two trends that led to the policy change: the last decade has seen yearly attendance sore by three million, while the percentage of visitors donating the suggested amount has plummeted by 46 percent. Additionally, the institution has struggled with mismanagement (its director Thomas P. Campbell resigned in ignominy last year), and it tackled its massive deficit only after receiving an $80 million gift from the estate of the late Herbert Irving, the largest gift the Met has ever received.

That life-sustaining donation, however, went toward stalled projects, such as a massive expansion planned for a contemporary art gallery. None of it was earmarked for subsidizing visitor access to the storied museum.

Arts and culture writers have pointed out that the change in policy diminishes the Met’s fame and character. Writing for the New Yorker, Alexandra Schwartz argues that accessibility of the museum “is an ethical mission, and an especially important one in a city that feels more and more closed.” Considering NYC’s increasingly prohibitive cost of living, the introduction of admission fees at the city’s historically free world-class museum does seem like the end of an era.

The art critic Roberta Smith from the New York Times specifically criticized the policy’s differentiation of visitors: “It divides people into categories — rich and poor, native and foreign.” Long billed as a shining example of equal access, the museum’s somewhat confusing admissions policy now separates visitors into different groups.

What these writers make clear is that this policy change marks a turning point in the museum’s history. Once, the Met was accessible, democratic, and open; now, it is like any other museum, a reality even more painful considering that its building is publicly owned.

There are no easy solutions for the Met’s woes. Perhaps the greatest takeaway from the situation is a cautionary tale: prioritize your organization’s key objectives and brand-affirming practices and proactively communicate them to the community and your audiences. Organizations will find themselves suddenly entering periods of change, so best to plan ahead and craft an effective messaging strategy for when difficult decisions need to be made.

How Nonprofit Management Should Treat Pro-Labor Millennials

Previously on Nonprofit Pro Media, we discussed the economic distress experienced by millennials, and how their financial plight has changed public opinion on labor organizing.

Unions experienced a precipitous drop-off in membership from the 1970s to the present. The public’s understanding and appreciation of labor unions followed a similar trajectory. The advent of the sharing economy, however, has resulted in a decidedly pro-labor environment, as contract workers in the rising millennial workforce miss out on the benefits that older generations enjoyed while struggling to make ends meet.

There are a number of reasons why nonprofits should treat pro-labor staffers with respect, valuing their opinions and working with them to create a more just workplace equipped to pursue the social good.

In today’s marketplace, millennials offer a number of indispensable skills; they excel at digital marketing, understand how to employ software to enhance productivity, and are adept at quickly researching and synthesizing disparate bits of information to solve complex problems. Additionally, millennials are passionate about social causes, including labor rights. Unions are adapting to millennial interests – such as social justice and equality – in efforts to appeal to them.

If your organization wants to attract the best talent of this generation, you cannot afford to under-compensate or exploit your workers. Doing so will hamstring your organization’s ability to hire skilled and passionate employees, thereby threatening your nonprofit’s efficiency in the long-run.

Furthermore, millennials make up a growing share of the voting public. This past election cycle, Generations X and Y surpassed baby boomers as the largest share of votes cast. Whether or not today’s political class is willing to accept it, millennials will soon be the decision-makers. Public policy affects all sectors, including nonprofits; building good faith and affinity with rising generations today can pave the way toward a fruitful relationship with the political class of tomorrow.

Here are five steps nonprofit management can take to ensure a just workplace:

1) Be Transparent
This may sound obvious, but as we explored in the second post of this series, nonprofits often overwork their employees. One deceitful way of doing so includes withholding key details of an employee’s rights and benefits. While nonprofit professionals are committed to advancing the social good, they also want to live balanced lives, and should be able to take advantage of all their contract has to offer.

2) Encourage Your Workers’ Passion
Studies show that millennial workers value employers who provide them with opportunities to contribute to the social good. While nonprofit professionals are able to work toward positive social causes on a daily basis, there is always room for organizational management to further harness the passions of its staff. Make sure to engage your millennial employees; ask them how the organization can better pursue its mission and adhere to its values. Invite discussion around the most pressing issues facing your nonprofit’s particular area of focus. Doing so will prevent daily work from becoming rote while strengthening your staff’s commitment to the organization’s agenda.

3) Understand Labor Rights
It’s the law: employees can express opinions about labor organizing and confer with their colleagues without interference from management. The fundraising affiliate for U.S. PIRG and Environment America shuttered entire offices that had threatened to unionize. The organization also pursued anti-labor polices that the National Labor Relations Board deemed illegal. Do not waste your organization’s resources on potential legal trouble: you will only tarnish your nonprofit’s image in the process.

4) Open Dialogue
If you are concerned that your organization cannot cope with a unionized workforce, talk with your employees instead of trying to derail their conversations. Many private businesses run disinformation campaigns to stymie labor organizing. This could have the unwanted effect of sowing division among your workforce – the last thing that a nonprofit needs. By addressing employee’s concerns from the start, you can prevent the situation from getting more complicated.

5) Provide a Seat at the Table
When everyone’s voice is heard, it is easier to work together. If your workers unionize, don’t panic. Nonprofits already navigate the back-and-forth between management, board, and funders. Educate your organization’s key stakeholders about the merits of unionizing and how it can benefit your organization’s brand by connecting with the key interests of millennials. At the end of the day, creating a just and fair workplace not only creates staff cohesion, but builds longevity.

Nonprofits Should Oppose the FCC’s Destruction of Net Neutrality

(Image: Backbone Campaign, Creative Commons)

In a 3-2 vote, the FCC voted to eliminate Obama-era regulations protecting the free and open internet. The rules upheld “net neutrality,” a system that essentially required internet service provides (ISPs) to treat all legal websites and digital services equally.

Net neutrality is a basic concept. It means that an ISP, for example, cannot legally hamper consumer access to another business’ digital products and services. This arrangement keeps the internet an open playing field where startups can jump right into the fray with established businesses and democratic discourse can flow freely without fear of retribution from powerful interests.

This is how the internet has generally worked. That is, at least until now.

Proponents for slashing the rules argue that they prevent innovation. In reality, with the regulations gone, ISPs will simply be more powerful, capable of capriciously billing certain companies more than others and stonewalling competitors that provide similar services to their own. ISPs will now be able to intentionally slow traffic to a particular website or block it altogether.

Ultimately, it will have the exact opposite effect that its proponents predict; it will lead to a less free market dominated by an increasingly small number of telecommunications conglomerates.

The move by the FCC was deeply unpopular, with 8 out of 10 voters disapproving of the rule change.

The vote ended up falling along party lines, with the Trump-appointed FCC chair Ajit Pai leading the campaign to destroy the regulations. Before occupying his current position, Pai worked as a top lawyer for Verizon.

Until recently, net neutrality enjoyed bipartisan support. In an editorial for the Houston Chronicle, the paper points out that net neutrality was part of the Texas GOP’s platform until 2014. Guess what companies co-sponsored the party’s 2014 convention that scrapped its support for net neutrality? Verizon and Time Warner Cable.

Everyone should be concerned about the long-term ramifications of eliminating net neutrality, including nonprofits. For one, nonprofits dedicated to the social good should oppose efforts to destroy the democratic nature of the open internet, which has created unprecedented access to knowledge, skills, and economic opportunity. By turning the internet into a tool for ISPs to pursue their self-serving agenda, the FCC attacked the core qualities of the internet that have spurred incredible innovation through broad accessibility and connected underserved communities around the world to a wealth of information.

Additionally, nonprofits should be concerned about what the elimination of net neutrality means for their own digital infrastructure. When ISPs roll out a tiered internet highway system, will nonprofits have the resources to pay the toll for the highest level, or will they lag behind better endowed private enterprises? Perhaps some organizations will enjoy special treatment from the ever-profitable telecommunications companies – unilaterally dictating the flow of information like never before – though this is far from a guarantee.

No matter who your organization serves or what your mission is, this ruling affects you. It will limit online fundraising efforts and outreach to students and teachers. Your message will face new hurdles reaching those in need or who may have an interest in your services. Expect budget-breaking prices for internet services that may not even provide you with what your organization needs.

Get creative with how you connect with your audiences. The price of an email could rise above that of a stamp. What would that mean for your communications calendar?

Most importantly, advocate for net neutrality. Call your state’s attorney general office and help them understand the devastating impact this ruling has on your organization and the constituents you serve. Internally, have the tough conversations with organizational leadership now and plan for the best- and worse-case scenarios. Chart a path that will ensure that your organization’s mission is not comprised no what lies ahead.

Labor Abuses in the Nonprofit Sector

(This is part two in a three part series on nonprofits, millennials, and labor unions)

As we discussed in last week’s column, millennials are facing a dire financial situation. Meanwhile, the popularity of labor organizing is higher than any other point in the past 15 years, with many millennials supporting unions regardless of their political affiliation.

The ever-risk adverse nonprofit sector often trails behind when it comes to adjusting to new trends. Considering the rocky track record that many nonprofits have with labor unions, it is worth taking a look at the organizational practices that could repel philanthropy’s rising, pro-labor millennial workforce.

Preparing for this will require reevaluating certain preconceptions. Nonprofits often hold unfeasible expectations during economic adversity. Even in an unfavorable market with diminished resources, the management and funders of mission-driven organizations will try and stay the course, slashing overhead while striving to render the same services and meet the same levels of productivity.

What is one of the primary means for cutting overhead? Unpaid work. Nonprofit management often pushes workers to put in overtime without adequate pay.

Take, for example, an ostensibly progressive nonprofit with an office in Philadelphia. I talked to a former employee who detailed a number of labor abuses that are simply astounding. The former employee explained that the staff was often expected to work over the weekends, but if anyone called in sick or had an emergency during the week, that person was docked pay.

In one situation, a colleague who had just worked through the weekend had to take his sick daughter to the ER on a Monday. Despite putting in more than enough hours to constitute a complete work day during the weekend, he had one-fifth of his weekly pay slashed as a result.

Additionally, the former employee explained that the Philadelphia office’s management lied to employees about having sick leave, something low-level employees learned at a training retreat when they talked to workers from a New England office who held the same job.

Nonprofits work to improve the world and promote the well-being and cultural enjoyment of their constituents. While the mission for each nonprofit is integral, it should not interfere with pro-social organizational practices that also demonstrate concern for employees’ welfare.

Mary Beth Hastings, an experienced nonprofit professional who has worked with health organizations around the world, discussed what made these sort of practices palatable for nonprofit leaders who — at least rhetorically — profess a dedication to the social good:

Too often, I have seen the passion for social change turned into a weapon against the very people who do much—if not most—of the hard work, and put in most of the hours. Because they are highly motivated by passion, the reasoning goes, they don’t need to be motivated by decent salaries or sustainable work hours or overtime pay…And how do you suppose that feels to young professionals with a college or graduate degree, living in a group house and barely affording student loan payments?

Nonprofits cannot simply will more resources into existence to get the job done. They can, however, enact sensible and fair organizational practices that enable younger workers to enjoy a modicum of security and a decent work-life balance. What may seem like a steep overhead cost upfront will be paid back through a dedicated workforce that trusts its leadership and makes enough to pursue its passions.

Millennials, Labor Unions, and Nonprofits

It’s no secret: millennials are earning less than their parents.

Some analyses put the decline in earnings around 20 percent. This is particularly debilitating for a generation that also possesses more student debt than its predecessors.

The reasons for the millennial wage slump are complicated. Older US citizens are working beyond retirement. Automation and cheap labor markets overseas have contributed to a (likely permanent) decline in US manufacturing. Highly profitable tech companies often make it big with small staffs.

There is also, of course, the “precariat”: the rise of non-salaried workers. This informal gig economy – embodied by the likes of Uber and Lyft – makes use of irregular employees to generate big profits. These explosive profits are incredibly stratified, with contractors at the bottom receiving no benefits and unpredictable compensation while those on top reap immense rewards.

While some pundits may contend that the gig economy is not meant to provide long-term employment, but rather serve as a stop-gap measure, the fact remains that economic opportunity is more diminished than any other point in modern history. People are landing in the gig economy and getting stuck in it.

This situation may be one of the reasons behind the surge in popularity of unions.

As of August, 61 percent of US citizens support labor unions, the highest rate in nearly 15 years.  Millennials no doubt play a huge role in this trend. Bernie Sanders, the most popular 2016  presidential candidate among millennials, was staunchly pro-union, and nearly 50 percent of Republican millennials support unions. That is an astonishing development showing a bipartisan trend in favor of labor organizing.

Unions are trying to take advantage of the change in public opinion, introducing social activism into their activities in order to attract millennials who value social justice. This was on display in January, 2017 when the New York Taxi Workers Alliance helped blockade access to JFK International Airport in response to Donald Trump’s travel ban on Muslims.

While companies in the sharing economy should take heed, so too should another part of the economy that has a fraught track record with unions: the nonprofit sector.

Nonprofits have struggled with unions and labor laws in recent years. Recall that large nonprofits such as U.S. PIRG opposed Obama’s overtime measure that would have guaranteed fair compensation for workers putting in more than 40 hours a week (note: a federal judge eventually blocked the rule, and the Department of Justice under Trump has since dropped the measure).

While U.S. PIRG was among many nonprofits that opposed the rule change, the organization has a particularly unfortunate history of anti-labor practices. For instance, a canvassing office in Los Angeles linked to the organization was abruptly shuttered and its employees let go after its staff decided to unionize. In 2012, yet another U.S. PIRG-affiliated office located in Portland fired employees who tried to organize with Communications Workers of America, resulting in a lawsuit that appeared before National Labor Relations Board.

Nonprofits are mission-based, the reasoning goes, so their employees should be mission-driven as opposed to profit-driven. Even if this approach lowers overhead and frees up resources for programmatic activities, does it truly fulfill a nonprofit’s general commitment to promoting social welfare?

In the next two posts on Nonprofit Pro Media, we will take a look at the intersection of millennials, nonprofits, and labor unions. Check in next week for a breakdown on labor abuses in the nonprofit sector.

Authenticity is the Key to Effective Nonprofit Branding

Image courtesy of Edgethreesixty Branding

An organization should ask itself everyday: does our brand reflect our identity? If the answer is anything but a solid “yes” it is time to institute change – fast.

Knowing who you are is the bedrock of effective communication. Everyday dispatches – including visual materials, internal and external communications, solicitations, call-to-actions, invitations, and annual reports – must project your organization’s brand and channel the key components of its identity succinctly.

Here are some informal case studies that demonstrate a variety of branding weaknesses.

The Philadelphia Orchestra demonstrates value by leveraging the name of its all-star music director. Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s name has become a stamp of approval on the orchestra’s communications materials, signaling a central role in the Philadelphia Orchestra’s public identity.

This is an interesting take on branding, albeit a somewhat short-sighted one. While the institution’s mark will stay the same, the music director will change over the years, thereby leaving the impression that the orchestra is most powerful and impactful with a “name” associated with it.

Another case study: the Please Touch Museum.

The institution’s trademarked name fails to convey its identity clearly. Originally located in Center City Philadelphia, the museum is now situated in Fairmont Park in a renovated historic building. Please Touch Museum’s current tagline which focuses on this geography, leaving its purpose in the dark. Using hyper-local terms alienates out-of-town tourists, decreasing the likelihood of them exploring this gem of a museum.

If the organization’s leadership wishes to reach a broader audience of families and donors in the greater Philadelphia area and establish the museum on national and international levels, it should consider revisiting its branding to underscore the experience visitors can expect. “Please Touch Museum® where kids learn through play,” is one fitting example.

Let’s look at one last case: The Salvation Army. The international humanitarian organization’s motto is “Doing the Most Good,” and the group maintains a commitment to “meet human need without discrimination.” There have been – however, a number of controversies over the past 15 years, including firsthand accounts of LGBQT individuals facing discrimination when seeking services from The Salvation Army. By directly contradicting its stated mission and ethical practices, this discrimination obviously does not mesh well with its public image. Critics of the organization have used the evident irony behind this brand to underscore the organization’s perceived hypocrisy.

Since accusations of anti-LGBTQ discrimination emerged, the organization has taken strides to improve its treatment of gay and lesbian individuals. Transgender people, however, are still frequently discriminated against and experience difficulty obtaining temporary housing through The Salvation Army. As long as the organization does not live up to its brand, critics will still be able to use it against the group, diminishing its effectiveness and preventing it from pursing its mission.
The most important component that could improve these brands: authenticity. Authentic branding and a clear understanding of organizational identity are key to developing a strong base of followers, donors, and patrons.

The Johnson Amendment Survives Trump’s Executive Order

During the National Prayer Breakfast in early February, Donald Trump promised his religious allies that he would “get rid of and totally destroy the Johnson Amendment and allow our representatives of faith to speak freely and without fear of retribution.”

The Johnson Amendment – which was sponsored by Senator Lyndon Johnson and passed in 1954 – circumscribes the political speech available to religious entities registered as nonprofits. It ranks among the clearest legal lines separating organized religion and elected office, preventing religious charities from endorsing (or campaigning against) candidates while empowering the IRS to strip offending nonprofits of their tax-exempt status.

Earlier this month, Trump announced that he would soon sign an executive order designed to “vigorously promote religious liberty,” making good on his earlier promises to scuttle the law. What he actually signed, however, was a little less than what his religious supporters hoped for. This line from the order sums up its weakness:

All executive departments and agencies shall, to the greatest extent practicable and to the extent permitted by law, respect and protect the freedom of persons and organizations to engage in religious and political speech.

Effectively, the Johnson Amendment remains on the books. The ACLU, which was preparing to challenge the executive order should it greatly empower religious organizations to discriminate, released an official statement that deemed the document an “elaborate photo op with no discernible policy outcome.” As for now, the organization is not pursuing action in court.

Perhaps – as some pundits have pointed out – this is merely a rhetorical ploy intended to create the impression among Trump’s evangelical supporters that he’s expanding their political power. It could, of course, also be step one of a larger plan to dismantle the legal framework that enshrines the United States’ founding principle that church and state remain separate.

If the Trump Administration did eliminate the Johnson Amendment at some juncture, it would enable religious nonprofits – which already receive less IRS and government scrutiny than their secular counterparts – to deploy untaxed resources on behalf of candidates. This would be an unfair advantage, and would turn religious charities into processing plants for anonymous political funding.

Campaign financing is already shadowy, complex, and in dire need of reform. Striking down the Johnson Amendment is not going to better enable organizations to pursue their missions, but it will create a deep fissure of trust between organizations and the constituents they are supposed to serve.

How Nonprofits Can (And Why They Should) Prepare For Hacking

Hacking is real and nonprofits are not immune.

Consider this increasingly common scenario: a hacker illegally accesses an organization’s emails, looks for incriminating information, informs the organization that she/he/they possess this information, and threatens to leak it unless the organization pays up. Most nonprofit budgets do not have a line item labeled, “hush money,” so managing this type of crisis is – naturally – quite difficult from a moral, ethical, and financial standpoint.

Nonprofit leaders need to understand the negative impacts of being hacked. Does their organization have a policy or incident response plan? It may seem like a task for an intern, or a non-pressing issue that can be added to next fiscal year’s to-do-list.

Increasingly, however, an institution being hacked is not a question of “if” but of “when.” That means preparations should start now.

There are different types of hacking. Depending on the type, different players need to be involved.

1. If your organization is part of a larger breach and is notified by an outside public agency, involve the organization’s legal officer or representative.

2. If your organization’s trade secrets are stolen, the executive board should meet immediately.

3. If your organization’s private customer information is compromised, the compliance team – which most likely consists of the audit committee, CEO, CIO and HR manager – should all be included on the first call.

After determining the type of hack, an organization should be prepared to execute a seven step plan to navigate the incident.

1. Determine the type of hack and assemble key players to manage the incident.

2. Discover the breadth and depth of the hack. This step involves a response team, which should be established ahead of time. Think of these individuals as emergency response personnel or first responders. This team communicates directly and frequently with the key players during the immediate aftermath of a hack.

3. Execute an incident response procedure. This involves: 

 i. Communications – Each of an organization’s constituent groups should be addressed with unique messaging that is disseminated in a timely manner.

ii. Tech – Determine level of damage, continued threats, and next steps to clean up systems.

iii.Normalization – Be prepared to restore systems and files, as well as to replace machines, and adjust firewalls.

4. Investigate, analyze and remediate. This is the deep-dive stage which may require an expert third-party vendor stepping in to assist in order to make sure that the hacker has no residual access to organizational systems and the network’s environment is clean.

5. Prioritize work responsibilities. The organization should communicate to staff members that hack-related duties temporarily take precedence over on-going projects.

6. Internal communications plan. Provide transparent, accurate information to the board of directors to ensure that the organizational message is clear. This will ensure that they understand how to answer any questions directed to them by the media, public, or constituents.

 7. Post-mortem. Immediately following the clean-up of the incident, meet with staff, board members, and all of the vendors involved for a post-mortem discussion about what worked, what didn’t work, and ways to improve the process in case of future hacks.

Be aware of the dangers and threats that could harm your organization and take action early. Preparation will ensure a well-executed plan to combat unexpected attacks.


Turning 25: It’s a Big Deal for Nonprofits

The twenty-fifth year may not seem like an essential milestone for nonprofits, but it is a critical juncture at which many organizations either begin a slow march toward decline or pivot toward new, more effective ways of doing business.

To survive (and thrive) during this transitional point, organizations should look at these three things:

I. Leadership

II. Branding

III. Delivery

I. Leadership.

Who is in control? Is the organization’s founder still at the helm, or is a senior staff member who has been there for more than 10 years in charge?  After twenty five years, fresh perspective is essential for growth. Celebrate the visionaries who have organization so far, but bring in a leader who has the growth mindset and energy to make positive change.

II. Branding.

A clear, fresh brand is critical to reposition an organization and its image in the communities where the organization exists and which it seeks to influence. Step outside of the organization and look through the eyes of public. What does the nonprofit’s image, communications, mission statement, and overall aesthetic look like? Ask yourself what this impression means and how it impacts those who receive it. There are numerous companies that specialize in branding. A worthwhile investment for a nonprofit is to work with an outside firm that doesn’t see things through the same lens as the staff or board of directors. A fresh perspective will allow the organization to expand beyond its current branding limitations.

III. Delivery.

Take this moment in the organization’s history to look at delivery. How are the programs delivered? How are you acquiring the constituents you serve? What is the impact? Is the impact what is most needed in your target communities at this time?  Often, there are better ways to deliver your product. But it requires the courage to break the norm and change the organization’s processes, procedures, and staff.

Reevaluating leadership, branding, and mode of delivery can set your nonprofit up for positive change that invigorates donors, funders, community members, and those served by the organization. How will your organization evolve?

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