While change may be inevitable, there is as much a need to manage change in a nonprofit agency or organization as in a small business or company. There are those external factors that affect change and then there are the internal forces that can make change a productive, dynamic element of enacting a nonprofit’s mission'”or cause the organization to get slogged down in backward thinking and ineffectual management.
Everyone within a nonprofit organization or agency has a role to play in terms of changes, but it is the combination of the board of directors and the executive staff who have the strongest influence on creating true and lasting change in a nonprofit organization. What this means is that the leadership (and that is the team combination of the board and the executive director or other executive staff) set the tone for how change will be managed. They have the power to decide the direction of the organization, to create funding commitments and budgets, and to decide who will be hired to conduct the business of the organization.
This may seem like a simplistic view of things, but it is true. Ideas and suggestions and input may come from line staff and workers, but for those ideas and suggestions to become change reality, it takes leadership. If the board of directors and/or the executive leadership of the organization is NOT committed to managing change or they do not understand the role or importance of change management, then little change will actually take place. Few things can be as frustrating to a staff as a board and executive leadership that will NOT respond, embrace or manage the necessary changes.
Staff and volunteers look to the board and the executive staff for leadership. The board needs the executive and the executive leadership needs the board'”together these two entities need to function as a team when it comes to creating and managing lasting change. It is important that these two understand their roles and act as progressive and forward-thinking leaders for the overall health of a nonprofit organization.