The Truth about Incremental Change

No one likes to hear about this but here is a truth: change happens over time incrementally. Now if you search your heart and mind you know that is true.  But when you are in the moment nothing can change big enough, fast enough, or, (and you know who you are),  solely based on what “we” think is best.

But in all my years of nonprofit leadership I have come to believe that slow, thoughtful, and yes, even incremental change sticks.  And more importantly, more often than not, you come to the conclusion of the change with the right folks needed to meet the new reality.

Why mention this on a website that by its nature calls nonprofits to move forward and yes, even change?  Because part of our work is to manage expectations within our organizations.  Imagine, you know you need a Development person, and share with the board that once you find the right one all will be perfect and the money will be rolling in.  Or maybe, you look at your Development person now and think “gosh, he’s not that great, he’s been here 2 years and we’ve only moved the income dial up a small notch”.

My question would be how ready, willing and able is your entire organization to be part of a culture of philanthropy? Now if your answer is –” I’m not sure how ready, willing and able we are…” then the next step is to have a conversation about what changes need to happen over time to get you there,  develop a plan, and implement it.

A planning process isn’t as exciting as going through multiple development directors looking for the right one.  Or blaming the chair of fundraising of the board or having the board blame the executive director when the income goals aren’t met.  And,  I say that all tongue in cheek.  Today, we don’t have time or the resources to keep ignoring the changes that need to be made and the longer you wait to make them the longer they will take to stick




Starting where you are & moving forward

My education in social work, while some time ago, leads me to practice my work based on the framework that states that you must start where your client is at.  Not where you or they want to be, but truly how they define where they are currently at.

To me that means asking the questions about current strengths, challenges, opportunities and threats and developing a plan that can be implemented over time to move you forward to the place you want to be.



Research driven & outcome focused

Everyone has an opinion.  I have lots.  Some of them you might agree with, some not so much.  I also have knowledge that is research based and outlines proven best practices that can inform an organization’s planning process so that it can meet goals and mission.

Maybe even more importantly, sharing this knowledge of best practices within the organization and defining shared language and values around best practice  can set your organization up for a sustainable future.