Pixel Tracker

Sunday, March 24 , 2019, 9:45 am | Partly Cloudy 56º

 
 
 
 

Cynder Sinclair: Time to Assess Your Nonprofit’s Year and Set New Intentions

As each year draws to a close, I encourage organizations to look back over the past months and make a list of their accomplishments. Most nonprofits are so focused on projects lying ahead that they forget to reflect on their successes. Yet, acknowledging triumphs can energize the team to surge ahead in the new year with renewed vigor.

I’m not suggesting a formal strategic plan, although that is always critical to long-term success. I’m just proposing a simple reflective process — the secret to replenishing your momentum. Here’s how this simple, effective five-step process works.

Gather Your Team

Don’t do this alone. Others on your team will benefit from this vital process, too. Invite board members, staff members or volunteers to an informal gathering — better yet, invite them all. A cross section of stakeholders always produces a wider scope of ideas and builds a more cohesive team.

Create a welcoming atmosphere by serving a beverage and snacks — and maybe play a little upbeat background music. Start by asking each person to describe what draws him or her to the organization’s mission — a powerful way of helping team members get in touch with their deep commitment to your mission.

Review the Year

Ask everyone to brainstorm a list of all the organization’s accomplishments over the past year — big ones and little ones. Remember the main rule of brainstorming: There are no bad ideas. Let occasional silence encourage timid ones to speak up. You may be surprised at the long list you create. Now make a list of any lessons learned: What would you have done differently? What has this past year taught you?

Celebrate Together

Now it’s time to celebrate your successes. Don’t forget that lessons learned are successes, too. Make your official “celebration list.” Assign a theme for the past year and choose something to represent the theme.

One organization proclaimed it their year of “building our foundation” because they finished reviewing and revising all their governing documents, refurbishing their board membership and restructuring their committees. They gave each person a small ceramic brick to symbolize their theme and to remind everyone to celebrate their accomplishments. Review this celebration list at the next staff meeting and at the next board meeting. Watch as it re-energizes everyone.

Set Your Intentions

Pull out your organization’s goals and review the progress made. Simply acknowledging your positive movement forward will give everyone a sense of accomplishment. Next, peek into the future. Look at each goal individually and list all actions necessary to complete it. Identify the gap between where you are today and where you want to be. Ascertain who needs to do what by when and then create a simple matrix clarifying roles, responsibilities and timelines. Create a plan to hold each person accountable for assigned tasks.

Some organizations use an outside consultant to help shepherd the goals through to completion. If there are goals that never seem to be accomplished, identify potential obstacles and make plans to remove the barriers. Some goals may need to be changed — they made sense at the time you created them but no longer serve the organization.

Conduct an Annual Review

At the end of the year, I also like to review all organizational documents to identify any that need revision or updates. Look at documents like bylaws, a strategic plan, an emergency response plan, financial policies, a board handbook, a board evaluation tool, ethics and conflict of interest statements, a confidentiality statement, a succession plan, a safety plan, a compensation and benefit structure, insurance and contracts, and committee structure. Prioritize these documents according to their need for modification and schedule them on a calendar for revision. Decide which revised documents will be presented at your annual meeting for approval.

Get Ready for an Energizing Year

The secret of this process is a cross section of organizational stakeholders reminding themselves of all they have accomplished in the past year, revisiting their beloved mission and clarifying their intentions for the coming year. This simple practice will reinvigorate your team and focus their energy on greater triumphs for the coming year.

— Dr. Cynder Sinclair is a consultant to nonprofits and founder and CEO of Nonprofit Kinect. She has been successfully leading nonprofits for 30 years and holds a doctorate in organizational management. To read her blog, click here. To read her previous articles, click here. She can be contacted at 805.689.2137 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). The opinions expressed are her own.

Support Noozhawk Today!

Our professional journalists work tirelessly to report on local news so you can be more informed and engaged in your community. This quality, local reporting is free for you to read and share, but it's not free to produce.

You count on us to deliver timely, relevant local news, 24/7. Can we count on you to invest in our newsroom and help secure its future?

We provide special member benefits to show how much we appreciate your support.

Email
I would like give...
Great! You're joining as a Red-Tailed Hawk!
  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >