Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Boom! Are You Ready for the Boomers?

This blog is dedicated to the first wave of Baby Boomers (born 1946 – 1964) who will turn 70 years old in 2016.  Are you ready for them?

Much has been written about the importance of organizations getting ready for the Boomers to retire – such as my recent blog.  But are you ready in other ways? 

The Baby Boomers represent what will be the healthiest and wealthiest retirement generation that America has ever seen.  You need to be prepared for them as:

*Volunteers & Board Members.  Once they retire, most Boomers will still be quite healthy and they are altruistic.  They can be exceptional volunteers and Board members.  But, you need to prepare the right kinds of volunteer opportunities for them.  Most Boomer retirees I talk with want to be given volunteer work of real substance.  These are not people who want to stuff envelopes.  You need to consider how they may serve your nonprofit as “quasi-staff” so you can tap into their talent and experience.

*Donors.  Nonprofits have the opportunity to develop real relationships with Boomers.  They will be less interested in just writing a check.  Let them get close to what you do, involve them, and take a long term approach to their philanthropy.  They will live for many years beyond retirement and your nonprofit could be their favorite new cause.  But you need to tailor your approach to them and their lifestyle.

*Service Recipients.   For the Boomers who are well off and healthy, nonprofits can look at creating special “fee for service” programs for Boomers – especially in the areas of the arts, education, and health.  Special exercise programs for Boomers are popping up in many places, for example.  For those who are not so healthy or well off, nonprofits can expect a surge in service needs in a variety of areas from hunger to addiction to transportation to health care.

Get ready for the Boomers!  There are a lot of them.  Their birth year will peak in 1957, so we have years to go until the largest cohort reaches 70.  The aging of this generation represents opportunity and challenge for making even more of a Mission Impact



For more ideas on how you can lead breakthroughs in your organization, follow this blog and check out my web site at www.SheehanNonprofitConsulting.com   You will find free resources you can download, including a Breakthrough Strategy Workbook that you can download at no cost.  You can also check out my book, Mission Impact:  Breakthrough Strategies for Nonprofits, and buy it if you are interested.  And you can follow Sheehan Nonprofit Consulting on Facebook.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Be Aspirational, Not Foolish

Originally, the title was going to say “Be Aspirational, Not Stupid,” but I decided not to be that harsh.

I spend a lot of time encouraging people to be aspirational with vision and to set Almost Impossible Goals (read more here).  But some people only hear part of the message.  I also say that when you set a goal that has a 1% chance of succeeding, this means it has a 99% chance of failing.  It's solid math.


And – you should not set an Almost Impossible Goal that you are unwilling to fail at.  Thoughtfully consider the worst probably outcome if you failed at the goal.  Would it really be that bad?  With the proper safeguards, probably not.

Example.

So you want to set an Almost Impossible Goal to increase your annual fund by 150% in hopes that it will spur new innovative ideas you have never tried before?  Great!  Just don’t put that number in your budget.  That would be st . . . foolish!  Budgets should be conservative.

The purpose of Almost Impossible Goals is to get you to think of new and creative ways of accomplishing what is most important to you.  Set the goals, brainstorm, and – if you come up with something you think has promise then test it out.  If the test looks good then expand your experiments.  Be responsible about it.

Dream Big!  You can be a responsible dreamer.  It’s called leadership.


For more ideas on how you can lead breakthroughs in your organization, follow this blog and check out my web site at www.SheehanNonprofitConsulting.com   You will find free resources you can download, including a Breakthrough Strategy Workbook that you can download at no cost.  You can also check out my book, Mission Impact:  Breakthrough Strategies for Nonprofits, and buy it if you are interested.  And you can follow Sheehan Nonprofit Consulting on Facebook.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Succession Preparation vs Planning

“We need a succession plan.”  I hear this from CEOs and, more often, Board members who are concerned about CEO retirement or departure.

While this is a healthy thing to think about, I suggest that you need “succession preparation” more than you need “succession planning.”  In large corporations, succession planning is about identifying, developing, and evaluating potential CEOs over a period of years.  This is usually not possible or even ideal in a nonprofit.  But you should do “succession preparation.”

Three key elements of succession preparation are:

1.  An Emergency Transition Plan in the event that the CEO is incapacitated for a significant period of time.  Which person or persons would take on the CEO’s responsibilities during this interim period?  Have they been trained on what to do?  Do they have at least some relationship with key stakeholders so they could take on these responsibilities?  All too often, CEOs hold a lot of information only in their heads.  You need to get this written down.  And you might want emergency plans for other key staff.

2.  Cross Training for all staff.  Here is the test.  Every person on your staff should be able to take a two week vacation to Bora Bora with no email or phone access.  While they are gone, someone else should have been cross-trained to be able to perform their essential functions.

3.  Professional Development Plans for all staff.  An organization can be more resilient through staff transitions when all staff are continually improving their skills and talents.

For more great information on staff transitions, check out resources available through Transition Guides – now a part of Raffa.  Proper "succession preparation" can help your organization “prepare, pivot, & thrive” through transitions and continue making an important Mission Impact.


 For more ideas on how you can lead breakthroughs in your organization, follow this blog and check out my web site at www.SheehanNonprofitConsulting.com   You will find free resources you can download, including a Breakthrough Strategy Workbook that you can download at no cost.  You can also check out my book, Mission Impact:  Breakthrough Strategies for Nonprofits, and buy it if you are interested.  And you can follow Sheehan Nonprofit Consulting on Facebook.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Set Your 2016 Goals Now!

Happy 2016!

As is my annual tradition, I will start the new year out with a reminder of my advice from an article I wrote in The Washington Post a couple of years back: “Set Goals, Not Resolutions.”  And also see my full article on The Power of Goals at this link.

If it’s time for you to set those once-a-year resolutions that you know will fade by March, then this article is not for you.

But if you are ready to make a long-term commitment to achieving higher levels of performance and having more satisfaction in life, then consider getting serious about goal-setting:

*Set goals as outcomes – on what you really want, not the activities that may lead toward them.

*Make sure that all your goals are SMRT:  Specific, Measurable, Relevant, Time-Bound

*Use the right “A” in your SMART goal formula.  All goals need to be SMRT.  But to be SMART you need to pick the “A” that is right for your situation. Here are your options:

1.  Attainable Goals, which you have an 80+% chance of accomplishing, are good if failing will have many negative consequences.  Attainable goals are good to build some momentum with easy wins, or to learn more about new environments, or if you are concerned about getting discouraged.

2.  Aggressive Goals, which you have a 35% chance of accomplishing, will improve your performance.  Research shows that the more difficult the goal, the higher the level of performance.*  If you feel like you have a good system and you want to maximize performance of it, then this method will help you do it.

3.  Almost Impossible Stretch Goals, which you have a 1% chance of accomplishing, will require you to design innovative ways of going about accomplishing your goal.  “Working harder” on the same process won’t do it.  You have an opportunity for breakthrough performance with Almost Impossible Stretch Goals.

*Celebrate Noble Failure.  If you are inspired to pursue a goal and you go for it, but you don’t make it all the way, then appreciate the progress you have made and appreciate that you worked hard at something you really cared about.  This mind-set will bring you more long-term success than letting the fear of failure keep you from doing what truly inspires you.

I provide more extensive detail on goal setting in this article, The Power of Goals.  If you use these principles and apply them to your personal and work life then I promise you much higher levels of performance, fulfillment, and satisfaction.   But it only works if you take it on as a true, committed discipline – not a once a year fad.  Good luck with all of your goals!


*A Theory of Goal Setting & Task Performance, by Edwin Locke and Gary Latham


For more ideas on how you can lead breakthroughs in your organization, follow this blog and check out my web site at www.SheehanNonprofitConsulting.com   You will find free resources you can download, including a Breakthrough Strategy Workbook that you can download at no cost.  You can also check out my book, Mission Impact:  Breakthrough Strategies for Nonprofits, and buy it if you are interested.  And you can follow Sheehan Nonprofit Consulting on Facebook.


Monday, December 7, 2015

More Than Fundraising Needed

“We cannot fundraise our way out of government cutbacks!!! Board members whose organizations serve low income and disadvantaged populations must advocate for the clients they serve.”

-Chuck Loring, BoardSource Senior Governance Associate & Senior Partner; Loring Sternberg, Associates

Chuck Loring is an expert in Board Governance and Fundraising.  He is a former nonprofit CEO and a leading nonprofit consultant (full disclosure – he is also a friend).

I think that Chuck’s words here are a rally cry for every Board member of every nonprofit organization in America.  And, in fact, he is part of a real rally.

The rally is called Stand For Your Mission.  It is a campaign which calls on all nonprofit decision-makers to stand for the organizations they believe in by actively representing their missions and values, and creating public will for important policy changes.  It is a collaborative effort initiated by the Alliance for Justice, BoardSource, the Campion Foundation, the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers, the Knight Foundation, and the National Council of Nonprofits, the campaign seeks to unleash the full potential of nonprofits to advance their missions by engaging board leaders more directly in the advocacy work of their organizations.

Some of the goals include:

*Bring about a sustainable shift in the understanding and expectations around board engagement in advocacy

*Move advocacy from an ancillary to an essential role for all board members

*Strengthen our collective ability to advance the public good

Check out their web site and see how you and your Board can be involved.  We all need to be even stronger advocates for our causes regarding public policy so we make even more of a Mission Impact.



For more ideas on how you can lead breakthroughs in your organization, follow this blog and check out my web site at www.SheehanNonprofitConsulting.com   You will find free resources you can download, including a Breakthrough Strategy Workbook that you can download at no cost.  You can also check out my book, Mission Impact:  Breakthrough Strategies for Nonprofits, and buy it if you are interested.  And you can follow Sheehan Nonprofit Consulting on Facebook.