Weekly Roundup – Asking What If

Weekly Roundup – Asking What If

Bill Stone’s recent piece for Philanthropy introduces the important concept of asking – “What if?” Stemming from the current government shutdown, Stone encourages nonprofits to consider innovative solutions to problems they are currently facing by asking what would happen if different steps were taken in solving today’s problems.

But the importance of innovation aside, asking “what if” in the nonprofit landscape is far more important than just coming up with creative solutions to large scale problems. Where his “what ifs” are often phrased in the ultimate outcome (ex: “what if underserved schools could be staffed with students from the nation’s best colleges who joined a corps called Teach for America?”), most nonprofit “what ifs” stem from a question that doesn’t yet have an answer. For example:

“What if our large donor doesn’t return this year?”

“What if we can’t get anyone to like our Facebook page?”

“What if our end of the year email campaign isn’t successful?”

“What if our event doesn’t raise as much money as last year?”

These more realistic, practical examples of the “what if’s” that nonprofits face everyday are important questions that are faced to a larger number of organizations. And these questions have answers that can have serious, long-term effects on the efficacy and solvency of nonprofits. In effect, these questions make sure that you have a back-up plan beyond your initial strategy.

Asking “what if” doesn’t have to be scary – in truth, it is necessary to understand the potential outcomes and next steps if projects and strategies aren’t as successful as imagined. But only asking “what if” in a crisis isn’t enough – planning ahead and considering alternative methods is critical for long term growth and success.

This week’s smattering of internet articles is below.

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