As a nonprofit organization with global reach and impact, there are numerous challenges you will need to overcome or else risk disastrous consequences for not only your organization but also the communities you are trying to help and the projects you run.
How an organization addresses these challenges often speaks volumes. Yet, when faced with a big challenge, it can be difficult to know how to best to put out the fire and move in the right direction again. Often, the best advice can be gained from those who have gone through similar challenges and come out on the other side, saving you from having to repeat history.
1. Building A Virtual Community
We have 180 staff in 11 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Europe and the U.S. To connect offices, we begin quarterly meetings with a creative activity. For example, each office designed a flag to express their culture. Another activity asked for a short cliffhanger movie trailer demonstrating collaboration in each office. This builds our virtual community and celebrates its diversity. -Emily Bancroft, VillageReach
2. Addressing Cultural Needs
As a nonprofit that deals with a human subject like grief, we have to consider the various cultures and belief systems that interact with us and see grief differently. It's important to recognize and understand cultural differences and acknowledge them in how we help others. We often have others from around the world produce content that describes those differences because they are the experts. - Gloria Horsley, Open to Hope
3. Creating Sustainable Projects
Sustainable projects and future crisis management demands and requires secure disaster relief funding to be available 24/7. It is not hard to fund the initial scouting -- that is guaranteed -- but returning to create a resilient system for them to use for years to come is close to impossible. Well, it's not impossible but comes at a very high cost most of the time. - Ricardo Aizenman, CADENA International NGO
4. Folding The Map
Our organization is home to over 34,000 members in 140 countries. Language and time zones are a big issue! So, we decided to have staff in the geographies where our members live so they can easily reach them during the regular working hours, and when possible, in their native language. That created an immediate perception of care and respect, along with customer service. - Magdalena Nowicka Mook, ICF (International Coach Federation)
5. Unifying The Message
With more than 60 affiliates, one of our biggest challenges is unifying our message across every group. To address this, we strive to create a mission that has a message everyone can get on board with, and we give the advocates, affiliates and partners the resources to pass along our message accurately. - Paula Schneider, Susan G. Komen
6. Enlisting The Right Leaders
Everything rises or falls on leadership at all levels, and local leadership is critical for organizations with satellite offices. To address this, I enlist leaders who can operationalize a clear vision and manage resources and teams; they also see their work as a calling, not just a career. A focus on alignment, resources, support, encouragement and accountability helps set them up for success. - Albert L. Reyes, Buckner International