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Looking Ahead Through a Rearview Mirror

Nonprofit managers need to be prepared for the future. Fundraising, staffing, operations, cybersecurity, changes in client demographics are just a few examples of the areas that offer potential challenges for the philanthropic sector as the 21st century gallops ahead. Some issues can be foreseen, but many cannot.

Consultant and author Thomas McLaughlin offers several tips for nonprofit managers as they try to prepare for the stresses and strains that lie before them. He argues that it will be necessary to find alternative approaches and new ways of achieving goals. McLaughlin’s advice:

  • Be clear about the current dimensions of the problem. How did it come about, and what are the expected dimensions in three to five years?
  • What are the stakes, and what group or groups of stakeholders need to be supported?
    How — and how much — will the organization be paid to serve these groups?
  • What are the practical dimensions of the solution, especially as it relates to adequate funding?
  • Will the need for new services evolve? If so, how? (For an example, McLaughlin cites the AIDS epidemic when it was first noticed in the 1980s and its implications today.)
  • What are the implications of success? Of failure?

As we celebrate our 36th year, NPT remains dedicated to supplying breaking news, in-depth reporting, and special issue coverage to help nonprofit executives run their organizations more effectively.