Posted by: Don Linnen | 27 September 2008

The Times, They Are A Changin’

Bob Dylan sang that over four decades ago. It’s still true. Read any newspapers lately? Watched any newscasts lately? There’s lots of speculation out there. The only thing certain is that we’re about to see change like we’ve never seen it before.

So far, the news is mostly about the commercial world. The Chron and the AFP magazine, Advancing Philanthropy, are doing a pretty good job of summarizing the potential effects on nonprofits. How are you going to manage change?

Paul Otellini is the current CEO of Intel, the world’s largest manufacturer of microprocessors. He’s a good one for nonprofit ED’s to use as a model.

Hmmmm. Okay. You’re saying: Intel, $40 something billion a year. My heart and soul cause for good, $400K/year….give or take a few hundred thousand dollars. Exactly how do we make this comparison?

In the WSJ this Saturday, Otellini gave some interesting opinions on management. He said, “A CEO’s main job, because you have access to all the information, is to see the need to change before anyone else does.”

What’s the job of an ED? To meet the mission. Take care of your clients. Maintain relationships with donors. Clearly present the cause with passion. Take care of your staff so they’ll take care of you.

You have all the information. You’re undoubtedly watching expenses and double checking your revenue forecast. Are you seeing the need to change?

Now is also a very good time to eliminate duplicate services. Who can help you? Where can you partner? Who can join you in the paceline? There are some unhealthy nonprofits that will not survive the next year. That change may be sad, but not necessarily bad.

Who (what organization) can provide the best service for the clients? Once the egos get put aside, that question is often easier to answer.

If your organization is struggling to make it, do you see the need to change? Now is a good time to look at options to merge with a like minded partner.

If your organization is strong, will it stay strong forever? Do you see the need to change? Now is a good time to join forces with a like minded partner.

Merging organizations is never easy, but change is always necessary.

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