Sunday, May 11, 2014

The $500,000 Windfall

“What would we do with a $500,000 windfall in revenue?”  This was a question that a fellow Board member asked the rest of us at a recent meeting.  “What a great question,” I thought.  “I am so glad we have Puja on this Board.”  But, our inability to answer her question with ideas that were well thought out makes me think we should revisit this question at a future meeting.

What would you do with a one-time big windfall?  Maybe $500,000 is too small for your nonprofit to even be concerned about if you are big.  The organization referenced above has a $2 million annual budget.  If you have a $10 million budget then imagine a $2.5 million windfall.

I know.  It would depend on the circumstances.  But just imagine it is a no strings, one time, anonymous windfall.

I suggest this as a great strategic thinking exercise for one of your upcoming Board or staff meetings.  What would we do and why?  How would it feed our strategy?  How will it help us build capacity and make even more of a Mission Impact?

Maybe it should go directly to your reserves if you have identified that as a weakness that needs to be fortified.

It probably should not go to a new program you made up on the fly and which would go unfunded after the windfall evaporates.

But maybe it does go for an innovation or demonstration project you have been musing about for years and which, if proven successful, you think you can build sustainable resources for and scale.

Regardless, it is best to take a strategic, “investment” mindset about your new windfall.  Play the Windfall Game at your next staff or Board meeting and see what creative juices you can get going to 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   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.

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