Bigger vs Better – Is it a Competition?
Which is more valuable: making your organization bigger, or making it better? Are these mutually exclusive? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each? Does bigger and better mean more successful, and what is the price of growth?
The pressure to grow comes from many directions. Funders want to fund new programs; communities need additional services; changing times require new forms of advocacy and education; and government agencies – and their intermediaries – are looking for ways to more effectively reach those they seek to serve.
Whether you choose to retain your current level of operation, or grow bigger, each has challenges. Here are a few questions to ponder and share with your board and staff as you evaluate the rate of growth – and growth strategies - that are right for your organization and those you serve or advocate for.
Can you maintain the quality of work you are known for? Will you be able to sustain the quality of your services, relationships, innovation, and/or partnerships? Will you need to establish new operating standards and policies, and if so, how might those you serve experience that change? Are you placing those you serve or advocate for at the center of your work and decision making? How do you anticipate client satisfaction will be impacted? Does your growth dovetail with the expressed needs of those you serve or advocate for? Have you talked with them about the anticipated growth to learn their perspectives and concerns?
How do you measure success? What is your organization’s mission and vision and how does growth play into that? What does the environment you work within require? Are more comprehensive services required? Is a larger “footprint” demanded by those you serve? Will increasing the geographic area served bring help to those previously left out? Will you need to decrease the depth of current services in order to provide services to a larger area?
Related to this, do you have the capacity and infrastructure to grow? Will you be able to recruit and retain people with the right skill sets, experience, and relationships to grow into the bigger and better organization you envision? Will you be able to cover increased administrative costs such as staff, technology, equipment, human resources, insurance, office space, program delivery space, transportation, communications, evaluation…. Is your board willing to accept responsibility for the anticipated growth? Do you have an understanding of what could go wrong and what the legal, financial, reputational, and personal liabilities could be?
How will you be perceived by the public, those you serve, people in government, local residents, students, news casters, your competition, those who support your services, those who disagree with the very core of the work you advance…. Will growth complicate how you tell your story: what will you tell yourselves and others about why you are growing; how that ties to your vision and mission; and what the implications are?
How will bigger or better impact what you do well? Bottom line: Are you living and working within your vision?
[Copyright 2021 – Mel and Pearl Shaw of Saad&Shaw – Comprehensive Fund Development Services. Video and phone conferencing services always available. Let us help you grow your fundraising. Call us at (901) 522-8727. www.saadandshaw.com.]