Tag Archives: budget

Nonprofit Arts Strategic Plan Consulting: What You Say and What They Hear

money

Consultant:  A strategic plan should generally include the following sections:  mission statement; outline of goals, objectives, and activities; assessment of current resources; and strategic analysis.

  1. All nonprofits are mission-driven; take care to define your mission clearly.
  2. Having activities or programs clearly defined will help your nonprofit communicate with the public.  Remember that activities and programs flow from your mission.
  3. Assess all of your resources — including money, people, expertise, skills, and other intangibles.
  4. “Strategies” are practical ideas about how to make the best use of your resources to achieve your goals.

Them:  Blah-blah-blah MONEY, blah-blah-blah GOALS.

Result:  A “strategic plan” proclaiming the need for more money with no action plan (except, of course, to raise money) and no justification (except, of course, to raise money).

In answer to your next questions:

  1. Way too often.
  2. They blame the consultant.
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Nonprofit Arts Board Members, Executive Directors, and Staffs: Has Your Board Been Assimilated? Have You?

BORG-CUBE

Board membership for a nonprofit arts organization is a privilege. It requires commitment of time and money.  It requires the urge to change things for the better.

It’s not for self-aggrandizement.  It is not about being thanked endlessly.  It’s not about banquets, galas, and being fed.

It’s a job.

Group thinking can be inspirational, but “groupthink” can poison your organization’s health.  When your board only votes unanimously, for example, or the newly-approved mission is just reverse-engineered to current activities and reduced to pabulum, you may no longer have a board.  You may instead have a Borg.

Borg members wait for orders.  They don’t debate.  Resistance is futile.

The Borg is powerful.  Borg Presidents lead by autocracy.  Borg Queens (often founders) drive staff away by insisting the organization’s activities revolve around them. Borg Drones atrophy.

Board or Borg?

Nonprofit Arts Executives: After the Ask (for anything, actually), It’s Fast “Yes,” Slow “No”… Try a Slow “Yes” Instead

nofrog

If you don’t hear right away, it’s probably “no.”

That goes for asks, offers, hiring, and anything else you require.

And that goes for you, too, when your stakeholders ask, offer, hire, and anything else they may require.

Reflection is the predictable path toward rationalization to the “no.”  This is why the phrase “upon reflection” is almost always followed by a version of “we’ve decided not to change.”  After all, as a rule, it’s easier not to change than to take a risk.

Many arts charity executives preach the glory of “managed risk” (an oxymoron, of sorts) and value fiscal responsibility above social impact.  To be clear, social impact is central to the success of the mission; fiscal responsibility is a valuable business practice.

If “yes” leads to greater impact, then stop saying “no”… especially upon reflection.

Face-palms in the arts world: Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright; the band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light

Head in Hands

Somewhere…

  • A managing director is face-palming because the budget draft is still a departmental wish list;
  • A marketing director is face-palming because the artistic director decided that he knew more about marketing than the marketing director;
  • A development director is face-palming because the board chair has fashioned a multi-million dollar “capital” campaign (actually, a “get-out-of-debt” campaign) with no feasibility study, no regard to the annual development campaign, and no accountability to anyone else;
  • An artistic director is face-palming because the plays she wants to do don’t jibe with the mission of the company;
  • A board member is face-palming because every meeting is about reporting, money, by-laws, and the gala;

And somewhere, performing arts audiences and constituents are collectively face-palming, hoping against hope that the arts folks in their region remember that for them, it’s about the art.

Look in Your Wallet Before Buying That Sandwich

I’m hungry.

I have a piece of paper that says I have a budget of $150 for lunch.

I go to the deli for a sandwich. Maybe chips and a lemonade.

In a new promotion, they ask me to step behind the counter and make my own sandwich. There’s a charge for each ingredient, but I get to make whatever I want.

I make a quadruple-decker. It’s a masterpiece of breads, meats, cheeses, veggies, seasonings, and condiments. It would make Dagwood Bumstead envious.

Because of all the ingredients, it costs $150.

I’ve actually only got $12. I put the purchase on credit. After all, I have that piece of paper. And I deserve that sandwich.

Does your arts organization budget this way – put together budgets based on what a leader wants to buy rather than what’s in your institution’s wallet?

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