June 30, 2021

3 New Concerns Nonprofit Leaders Must Juggle


Unfortunately, just when you needed a break and a little bit of “normal,” nonprofit CEOs, executive directors, and leaders face a new set of challenges.


Back to the office and what we hope is a post-COVID-dominated-world brings with it formidable new terrain and issues to master, including:


1. Capturing What You Learned Before the Fog Rolls In

Last year’s experiences made you and your staff tougher and more competent. Your team built trust and new skills, such as connecting virtually. You discovered economic ways to provide mission. Together, you got wiser.


To retain what you learned, nonprofit leaders need to harness the new lessons quickly so they don’t evaporate in the urgency of now. How are you doing this?


2. Talent Shortages

You probably noticed already that finding and retaining quality staff is more complicated than ever. For the first time in a generation, we’re in an employee market, according to the New York Times. And, since demographics, not the pandemic, drives the shift, plan on talent challenges.


If you fail to invest in retention, you will spend your time conducting interviews and patching personnel gaps. So how will you fill talent shortages and retain your staff?


3. Returning to the Office Negotiations

Part of retaining your staff depends on how you negotiate your return to the office. Many nonprofits are back 100 percent; others are still planning. And, many individuals, whether back or not, aren’t enthusiastic about full-time office work. Besides employee quality of life, research is showing hybrid scheduling supports higher productivity.


As a leader, you need to structure your return for staff and customer safety, your nonprofit needs, and employee growth. So what’s your plan for negotiating your office schedule?


What These 3 Challenges Mean to the Ingenious Nonprofit CEO

Not only do these challenges need consideration and solutions, but each also impacts the other and your budget. In this re-opening moment, you have the rare opportunity to switch your focus and investments to activities that provide the most mission for the buck, potentially sacrificing a sacred cow or two along the way.


Understanding what you face is the start of making a plan and mastering the times. To move all of these issues in sync, you need a 30,000-foot approach. Step back from your daily routine and piece your response together into a coherent whole. You can create something way better than “the pre-pandemic days.”


You don’t have to juggle all of this alone. Consider a facilitated process to plan your approach or to guide your staff and board through these challenges. Yes, I want to explore a facilitated process. 



Karen Eber Davis

Karen Eber Davis provides customized advising and coaching around nonprofit strategy and board development. People leaders hire her to bring clarity to sticky situations, break through barriers that seem insurmountable, and align people for better futures. She is the author of 7 Nonprofit Income Streams and Let's Raise Nonprofit Millions Together.


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