Why Nonprofits Should Always Think Big

Whenever I work with a new nonprofit, the first thing I look to understand is what their goals are, where they think they will be in 1 year, 5 years even 10 years. It’s a thought exercise that every Executive Director should go through with their board at least annually, because it helps to really align priorities. It also helps with grant funding.

When I’ve spoken to clients, one of the biggest fears I’ve heard expressed is mission creep. They don’t want oversight and rules from grantors to affect their ability to carry out their mission. In short, they don’t want the money to be more trouble than it is worth. Identifying your goals can also ward off mission creep.

So, I want you to channel Kevin from the Office for one meeting with your board. Go ahead and “dream the biggest dream that you can…and double it!” If money was no object, if you could do literally anything, could have all the staffing, all the resources, what would it be? Thinking big as a group will help you to see how aligned your priorities are and could also bring up new ideas that you may not have thought of.

Once you have thought big pinpoint 3 goals. What are your three focuses for the next five years? From there, what can you do this year to accomplish them? These are the projects you want to get funded, the ones you can speak about with real excitement, the ones that get your funders, your board and your staff excited.

Dreaming big is not just a fruitless thought exercise, it gets your priorities in line, it helps you to really see where you are going as a board, and it brings up new ideas that you can scale down to manageable steps to bring these dreams to fruition.

Especially as we’re winding down our year and gearing up for 2019, I’d strongly encourage you to think big! Let me know also, I’d be happy to meet with your board and lead this thought exercise and how it can translate to grant funding.

— Janet

Janet Gonzales