Nonprofits can be Really Hard to Manage
I know. Before starting ggm Nonprofit Consulting, I spent thirteen years as Chief Operating Officer for three different nonprofits. These nonprofits ranged in size from 20 to over100 staff and from $4 million to $70 million in annual revenue. More on these wonderful organizations can be found here, here and here.
In each position, I was the primary change agent in support of my organization's commitment to internal efficiency and effectiveness and ultimately to greater impact. Getting the results we needed to took creativity, persistence, compassion, a lot of learning along the way and often a little bit of luck.
At various times, my duties included primary senior responsibilities for Finance, HR, IT, Admin and Legal; oversight of Development, Communications and Evaluation; and acting Executive Director. Along the way, I've led the design and implementation of financial, case management, evaluation and performance management systems and processes, trained and coached leaders and managers, crafted strategies, plans and budgets, promoted culture change, written policies and so on. Throughout my career, I've worked closely with Boards of Directors as a member, a senior staff liaison, and an advisor.
Prior to entering the nonprofit world, I practiced corporate law with an international law firm and served as general counsel for a couple small technology companies.
What’s It Like to Work With Me?
My clients reflect the diversity of my experience. I support small advocacy organizations and large service providers; community-based and national organizations, secular and faith-based. The common denominator is the potential (and the desire) for greater impact. With each, I assess organizational challenges through multiple lenses–interpersonal, financial, cultural, environmental, short term priorities, long term aspirations. I build a shared assessment of the challenges so that everyone understands what needs to happen to achieve success. I provide advice and guidance through the ups and downs of implementation. And as we address the immediate issues, I will also work with you to build the skills and confidence that will enable you to respond effectively to future challenges.
Together, we will establish clear expectations about scope, timeframe and cost. Generally, I will provide you an initial assessment that reflects our early discussions, a preliminary scope of work that responds to that assessment and a price range. Once the assessment is further along, together we will either confirm or modify the scope of work and finalize the pricing. If your organizational processes require more specificity up front, or your circumstances demand more urgency, I am happy to accommodate that as well.
Whether you are dealing with a crisis or a longer term issue, effective interventions require
An accurate analysis of the situation,
A realistic plan for achieving those objectives, and
Key stakeholders buy-in.
My approaches are geared towards achieving all of these. Critical components usually include:
Getting to the root issues. My experience as a COO has taught me that the most pressing issues are often symptoms of deeper challenges. Of course, those symptoms may be urgent and need to be tackled immediately. But over the longer term, organizations benefit enormously when those deeper issues are addressed.
Understanding different viewpoints. Challenging problems are often rooted in clashing perceptions, expectations and approaches to communication. Often internal leaders are too enmeshed in the conflict or overly committed to their own perspective. Carefully listening to and engaging different viewpoints supports a stronger analysis, a more nuanced approach, and supports increased buy-in, while at the same time building credibility and stronger relationships.
Evaluate organizational capacity. A successful change process must be firmly rooted in reality—not what should be possible, but what is possible. Having assessed your capacity, we will develop reality-based approaches to get you where you need to go that take into account both strengths and weaknesses.
Implement. This is almost always the hard part. A strong plan, grounded in organizational realities, is a critical starting point. But it’s only a starting point. Whenever possible, I encourage incremental adjustments that can readily be digested over wholesale restructurings that carry unpredictable risks. Small successes build skills and confidence that make greater achievements possible.