pexels-photo-1430116Many of the social ills that nonprofits try to solve are long-standing issues. These types of problems are difficult to deal with, but one thing is certain, many of our past strategies and solutions, no longer work, or don’t work very well. NFPs must be able to visualise new approaches and develop new processes if they want to make a meaningful difference. The following strategies will help your nonprofit drive greater innovation and change.

Build a Diverse and Inclusive Team

Creativity is the well-spring from which innovative ideas spring, which means that your organisation needs people from a wide variety of backgrounds so that you can gain insight from multiple perspectives. Look at your recruiting, training and retention policies. Are you doing everything that you can to encourage greater diversity and inclusion on your team?

How well does your team perform? Does your organisation encourage people to work together and share resources across multiple departments, or do some areas of your organisation get more funding and other resources?

What about teamwork and rapport? Does your organisation regularly offer opportunities for the people on your teams to socialise and talk with one another to build a spirit of camaraderie and shared responsibility? If you want your people to be able to work together well, and pull together in times of crisis, you must first invest in team-building activities and create an environment that promotes equality and inclusion.

As you strengthen your team’s loyalty to one another and your organisation, they are more likely to perform their duties well, and, come to you with their best ideas!

Invest in Your Team

One characteristic that many innovative NFPs share is that they invest in their people. Does everyone in your organisation have everything that they need to perform their duties well? Do you invest in the training and development of your people, and do you give them the equipment and other resources that they need? Is your team able to use technology and other resources to quickly assess needs in your community, create and implement plans to address those needs, and measure their progress?

Encourage Open Communication and Brainstorming

Doing things as you’ve always done them guarantees one thing: your results will stay the same. The people that are best acquainted with the inefficiencies and drawbacks in your programs and practices are on the front lines, so their insight is critical in helping you to come up with better ways of doing things. Look for ways to encourage greater dialogue and open communications at every level of your organisation.

Use instant messaging platforms, such as Slack, that allow you to save conversations as well as search them so that you can look for specific keywords and topics and review them for ideas about what’s working well, and what isn’t, in your processes and practices.  Host brainstorming sessions that include people from every department in your NFP so that you can get a mix of perspectives and improve the odds that you will come up with novel solutions to longstanding problems.

Put Your Clients and Members at the Heart of Your Work

When designing your programs, don’t forget to put your clients and/or members first. Try to look at the issues through their eyes and seek to understand their perspectives. This means that when you conduct needs assessments, your team must genuinely listen to your community’s concerns and seek to understand them as you create and implement potential solutions.

Otherwise, the services that you propose to offer may fail to get at the root causes of the problems and become irrelevant! No matter how ingenious or innovative an approach may seem to be, if it doesn’t get at the heart of the matter and address your community’s needs and create meaningful improvement, it is essentially a waste!