The Nimble Nonprofit: A Manifesto

Among the many challenges nonprofits face is the weight and inertia of the conventional wisdom about being a nonprofit. But the world in which nonprofits labor today isn’t the same world where the professionalized Nonprofit 2.0 paradigm of the past several decades developed. Sometimes the conventional wisdom has the right idea, but the most important information is lost in the clutter. At other times, though, the conventional wisdom actually makes it more difficult for nonprofits to make great things happen. And sometimes the conventional wisdom is just simply wrong.

The result: nonprofits are too often guided by convention and inertia, and are too often unable to learn from their own experiences, from each other, and from unconventional sources.

And the result of all this: too many nonprofits don’t perform to their potential.

The good news is that a professional-but-nimble, technologically savvy, Millennial-driven Nonprofit 3.0 model is emerging. How are we contributing? Well, for starters, we figured we’d write a manifesto (natch).

So, with a crowdsourced, social networked, microblogged, mobile, and location aware drum roll, here’s our Nimble Nonprofit Manifesto v1.0:

  1. Shake the yoke of convention. Be skeptical about the received wisdom. Ask hard questions about everything you’ve been taught on running a nonprofit.
  2. Be agile and innovative. Experiment, take risks, fail fast and smart, adapt, deploy the best practices of high performance organizations regardless of sector, pivot to embrace opportunity, and foster a culture of openness.
  3. Build a great team. Hire smart, fire smarter, create a sustainable and supportive organizational culture, and grow and empower your crew.
  4. Sustain a Jedi focus. Maintain a sharp focus and tight discipline on the your goals and on the work that most needs doing.
  5. Build relationships and networks. Tell great stories, treat people well, ask them for support, rinse and repeat.

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