While change may be inevitable, chaos does not have to be. Likewise, when it comes to nonprofit management, we may not be able to control everything that comes our way, but we can plan for and pace some of the inevitable changes. Instead of being pathologically reactionary, we can take some proactive planning and pace the changes that occur within the agency or organization.
The first thing to remember is that change does not (and normally should not) threaten existing core programs and services. What this means is that the organization’s mission should not be subject to the winds of change and the ongoing programs and services need to be stable. While staff may change and there be upgrades and changes that occur within those programs and services, planned change does not have to be drastic and upend the foundation of the organization.
By planning for and pacing change, the organization can avoid over-working staff and trying to force change (or react) without the necessary resources. For example, by anticipating an upgrade in services, the organization can implement strategy to raise money, change policy, hire staff, etc. Changes can be made in a comfortable pace in keeping with the expanding capacity and resources.
While it may seem like changes can be slow in coming within some nonprofit organizations, all that planning and pacing can be a good thing. Of course, the pace of change should keep up with need'”it does not do much good to provide services after they are needed or for slow implementation to cause further crisis for clients or community members.
By making a plan and developing a timeline for implementing changes, a nonprofit can avoid many of the pitfalls of reactionary management or “crisis” management. Develop a pace for making changes that has staff and management buy-in and it may turn out the change is easier than expected.