Under the best of circumstances, small- to mid-sized nonprofits can only take occasional timeouts from “getting the work done” to look into the future, clarifying whether they are on the ideal trajectory to advance their mission.
Now that initial crisis adjustments have been made, one of the board’s most important roles is to determine what comes next for the organization — even if that is six months from now instead of a more customary 3 to 5 years. In general, board members are up to the task. The board can advance meaningful conversations with staff leaders without being as confined to how the organization has typically done things. Board members can also be trusted to have the best interests of the organization and clients/consumers/patrons as a top priority.
If you haven’t already, it’s time for a board conversation, online or in-person, to assess your mission, vision, and values and how they translate to circumstances of today and beyond the current pandemic. It will be important to separate your mission/vision from the current programs staff members are accustomed to delivering and engage in discussions about what other paths could get you to your destination. While the pandemic has closed many physical doors, it also has paved the way to incredible opportunities because of the expanding ways people connect, work, communicate, and learn.
For example, your mission might be to “Equip young people to complete high school and find success in college and career”. Your mission doesn’t say, “We exist to run tutoring programs in our building from 3-5 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays and do a service project every other Saturday.” Facing new circumstances, you have to be open to new ways you can deliver on that mission.
Bryan Orander, President