Dream Big

3 Steps Toward Achieving Your Wildest Dreams

      This article is about achieving your dreams and taking the first steps toward sustainability. Imagine your nonprofit attaining sustainability and you accomplishing more in less time and effort, taking a vacation and spending your nights and weekends with family and friends. What would it be like to fulfill your desires to have enough money to change the world in a significant way? What do you want your nonprofit to be able to do? What kind of legacy do you want to leave? What kind of work/life balance would you create? What is it that you truly want for you and your agency if lack of money was not an issue?

     Think about it. Then create a vision of what you want your life to be.

 Engage in Visioning

     Visioning is the process of creating big, hairy, bodacious goals for you and your organization. Ones that are future-oriented and aspirational. Ones you strive to meet. To paraphrase Henry Ford, whether you think you can or cannot achieve your vision, in either case, you’re right. Believe that you can.  

     And encapsulate your dreams in a vision statement. A vision statement communicates what you want your agency’s impact to be in the future. It is not a mission statement. Mission and vision statements are different. A mission statement encapsulates the purpose of your agency. It defines your nonprofit’s intention and objectives. It refers to the present.  A vision statement describes an ideal future state. For example, domestic violence in Santa Clara County is eliminated. Or every resident of Nigeria gets fed. Or people with disabilities worldwide are treated with dignity and respect. These kinds of vision statements galvanize the community to take action and attract donors to your cause.

      Another type of vision statement states what you want your organization to become in the future.  For example, your nonprofit employs enough staff that you only need to work a forty-hour work week. And your agency pays well so it attracts the talent you need to grow and scale.

     Dream and dream big. Your organization can afford raises, so staff have the incentive to stay with your agency. Your nonprofit can afford the latest technology. Your agency has funds for top-notch training and professional development. Your organization is housed in adequate facilities that are kept in pristine condition because you have money to cover regular upkeep and repairs. You have everything necessary to move your nonprofit forward. This type of vision statement is good for motivating staff, who it affects the most, to join you in changing the status quo.  

Articulate a Vision Statement

     You develop the dual vision, one supporting the other, by getting away from the chaos, clearing your mind, being present, and dreaming of what you want your life and your nonprofit to be like. And you write it down.

     A good, written vision statement is aspiring and brief. It is attainable. It is a stretch that is possible over time. In other words, it is challenging and attainable. And it is relevant. It also matters to your key stakeholders. Their own goals can be met through the attainment of your vision.

     An effective vision statement uses vivid words and images to paint a dramatic picture of your desired state of being. It is compelling. You drive your vision forward by talking about the future possibilities you have presented in a positive way, bringing on board those who want to move forward with you, and blessing and releasing those who don’t.  

Plan to Achieve Your Vision

     To implement your vision, you need a plan to get from where your nonprofit is now to where you want to be. The plan must be transformational and move your agency from its current state to a state where it has the resources to grow, scale, and make a tremendous impact. You create milestones to mark progress along the way. And you celebrate the successes you and your team achieve. You make your dreams come true.

     It is important to note that planning with a small or startup organization may simply involve conducting a brainstorming session with your board, staff, and volunteers. Or, with a larger, well-established, sophisticated agency, you may need to facilitate a large-group visioning session during which a consultant helps create a consensus-built picture of what participants want the organization to be.

     Planning should not be done in a vacuum. Everyone in the organization has a role. Developmental planning is a transformational process for the organization. Planning is most effective when it is a collaborative effort across all departments and the entire organization. Everyone associated with the agency should play a part in the process—board members, the CEO, and staff. This is essential to create buy-in when it comes to managing the change that will result.

 The Board’s Planning Roles and Responsibilities 

  • Develop and support the organization’s vision, mission, and strategic direction.
  • Review and approve the organization's financial goals, revising them as needed based on budgetary changes.
  • Participate annually in the planning process to review vision, mission, priorities, funding needs, and targets of achievement.
  • Participate in the identification and cultivation of resources to drive the plan.
  • Work to ensure that the image of the nonprofit is equal to the requirements of the plan.
  • Review management's and the board’s performance in achieving the outcomes targeted in the plan.

 The CEO’s Planning Roles and Responsibilities 

  • Implement the organization’s mission, vision, and strategic direction.
  • Meet the organization's financial goals, revise as needed based on budgetary changes.
  • Participate annually in the planning process to review vision, mission, priorities, funding needs, and targets of achievement.
  • Participate in the identification and cultivation of resources to drive plan.
  • Work to ensure that the organization is committed to a path of continuous improvement, using private sector methods with nonprofit motives.
  • Hold the management team accountable for achieving outcomes targeted in the plan.

 The Staff’s Planning Roles and Responsibilities 

  • Makes sure that objectives are measurable, stated in actionable terms, time-bound, and assign responsibility.
  • Continually works to create alignment and integration between individual department objectives and those of other departments.
  • Whenever possible, develops objectives in a group setting with other staff who will be tasked with accomplishing the objective.
  • Continually asks, ”What might be the unintended consequences on other departments if we achieve this objective in our department?”
  • Proactively addresses any impact that their department’s objectives might have on others to mitigate the risks or leverage the opportunities.

Wrapping It Up

      So, dream about your nonprofit becoming sustainable. Envision getting more done with less time and effort. Think about taking that long-delayed vacation and spending the time you want with family and friends. Create a vision of what you want your life to be. Write it down. And develop a plan to make it happen. Remember, whether you think it can or cannot be done, you’re right. Believe your dreams can come true.

Next Steps

      Of course, that’s not the complete picture. If you want a detailed picture of what your nonprofit can attain regarding fundraising, marketing, staff motivation, and board relations, sign up for my Nonprofit Star Quest live virtual summit to be held March 7-9, 2023. Find out more at https://www.joanneoppeltcourses.com/nonprofit-star-quest

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