Monday, July 6, 2009

A few great tips for worst-case scenarios

In the recent issue of the Chronicle of Philanthropy they had an interesting article and some great tips for worst-case scenarios. I thought I would summarize and share them here:

-Set priorities: Take a hard look at your programming. In these difficult times, make sure you are focusing on programs that specifically align with your organization’s mission. For programs that don't or are not essential, scale back for now. You can always ramp up later when you have more funding.

-Forecast financial future: To aid in decision-making, make sure to create multiple scenarios for your budget (best, moderate and worst-case). Check out "Want to know how your nonprofit is doing financially?"for quick, easy ways to figure out how your nonprofit is doing financially.

-Identify “trip wires”: This will help you get the most bang for your buck and enable you several options to work through tight times. To do this, identify what certain reductions will get you. For example, if you have a 10% budget cut what happens? Will you have to cut a program or lay off a staff member? What about 20% or even 30%? Does that mean you have to lay off a leadership position? Knowing what these cuts will get you will help you plan for the worst-case scenario.

-Put specific people in charge of carrying out the plan: Please don't do what many, many people do when they create a plan - read it once, and then promptly put it in a drawer where it gathers dust for a few years before you throw it away and do it all over again. Make sure that your plan for weathering the tough times is actually carried out. Assign specific people to carry out the plan.

-Don’t expect miracles: Small changes won't save your organization overnight. It takes time, patience, and hard work to get through the tough times.