Know Where You Are in the Nonprofit Lifecycle and Get Ahead of the Game
I was able to get away for a couple of weeks this past month for some R & R, which included a short trip to Santa Fe with my wife, Carol, and a five-day bike tour with friends through Utah and Western Colorado. This much-needed downtime cleared my head and re-energized me to do better for my team members, clients and the nonprofit community.
I ran across a book, “Nonprofit Lifecycles,” by Susan Kenny Stevens, who has served as an organization development consultant, Board member and CEO for nonprofits. She does a masterful job of relating growth-stage theory to nonprofit organizations. Growth-stage, or lifecycle theory, has been around for a long time but is more often discussed and used in the context of small- to mid-size businesses. She outlines seven lifecycle stages that are clearly definable for nonprofits:
Each stage presents its own set of predictable challenges. For example, the most dynamic stage is growth, the transition between startup and maturity, which is characterized by the mission and programs having taken hold in the marketplace, but where service demand exceeds the organization’s structural and resource capabilities. Typical challenges include: too much to do, too little time, developing Board ownership, creating strategic focus, developing and identifying distinctive competence, beginning to formalize organizational structure, diversifying revenues and tracking financial results. To achieve and build capacity at each stage requires the complete balancing and alignment of the nonprofit’s programs, management, governance, resources and systems. Some semblance of this equilibrium is necessary for the organization to move onto the next stage.
Please feel free to contact me at 303-367-1058 with any comments or questions.