by Susan R. Bottum | Vice President, NonProfit and Public Affairs Consulting
Given the uncertainty with the state of our state, Chicago-based nonprofits are feeling apprehensive and uncertain about the future. Over the past few weeks, our team has fielded many calls from organizations who are, understandably, panicked about how their programs will be impacted by inevitable funding cuts. So here are just a few small tips to help you weather the storm.
First of all, don’t panic. It is easy to become “reactive” during times of uncertainty. “The sky is falling” mentality is prevalent right now. Stand out by remaining calm and confident.
Second, be prepared to make changes. Realistically, all local nonprofits who rely to any extent on state funding will feel some pain. Be prepared. Will you need to make cuts across the board? Sunset a program or two? Make difficult staffing decisions? Developing potential “what if” scenarios will help you plan ahead and be ready when the time comes. In addition, you may want to consider drafting a communication plan, designed to deliver critical messages both internally and externally.
Third, continue good development practices. Reach out to donors, funders and other key constituents. Inform them about potential cuts and how your organization is prepared to adapt. If there is a need for them to reach out to a legislator or representative, be specific in your communication and make it as easy as possible for them to fulfill your request.
Lastly, maintain a positive attitude and a sense of humor. The state is in bad shape and attaining a balanced budget will take time and require sacrifices by all. So we need to take a breath, acknowledge that it will be challenging, and remember that we are in this field because of the work that we do and the people we serve. We owe it to ourselves, our clients and our colleagues to be our very best each day.