Explore the Levels of Change Management

5 Ways Nonprofits Are Growing Change Muscle Today

Leza Isadora

3 Mins

Like many organizations, nonprofits struggle with how to support their people through new ways of working. They also experience unique roadblocks, such as issues with donor engagement and volunteer burnout. Managing change for them can be tricky, especially since the disruptive force of the pandemic is hitting smaller nonprofits particularly hard.

Nonprofits and Change Management

Here are five ways nonprofits are growing their change muscle today:

1. Pivoting to digital service delivery

The transition to virtual services during the pandemic created anxiety for many nonprofits, including Austin-based Broadcast Your Love (BYL). Helping it adopt and use new technology was key to continuing its communications and life skills programming for youth. When COVID-19 closed schools locally, the nonprofit had to pivot from traditional to online classes.

Prosci’s ADKAR Model helped address the barrier points BYL leaders and instructors faced as they looked at ways the organization could adjust to change. A strategic change management plan gave them a roadmap to follow. Training boosted their technical capabilities, and collecting successes reinforced the transformation. By investing in new technology, the nonprofit’s program has become even more robust. Combining interactive video discussions with real-world assignments and traditional lessons offers students a uniquely engaging way to learn. And a chance at a better future.



Source: Broadcast Your Love


2. Finding new sources of funding

Most nonprofits bend over backwards to get funding. They deal with complex grants that prioritize direct delivery of services, which creates additional pressure when deciding how to change. For many, the movement toward telehealth offers affordable healthcare. But this also comes with more tangled guidelines to comply with medical standards.

Counseling centers have seen telehealth as an opportunity. However, organizations with fewer resources struggle with barriers to Ability like limited capacity and skills. With funding for telehealth expanding, nonprofit providers and therapists had to master new ways of tracking virtual visits almost overnight. Some employees responded by refusing to accept new clients and slowing productivity. Interviews revealed their resistance came from not being equipped to change. The solution was to introduce new processes gradually while boosting training. Allowing people time to learn increased the rate of adoption and usage.

3. Making the most of turnover

High turnover among executive leaders at nonprofits is common. Some CEOs are a poor fit with their board, while others accept new jobs to advance. Many organizations are run by executive directors who are committed but lack general business experience. And those who come from the for-profit sector may not be truly invested in the nonprofit’s mission.

One North Texas human services agency knew executive turnover was an opportunity but struggled to focus on the benefits. Change leaders assessed the organization’s communications and found that information silos were barriers to adoption. Transparent discussions broke down silos as leadership spent time talking to board members, staff and donors. Sharing openly like this helped everyone understand the need for a new chief officer. From this came the Desire to have a part in and accept the transition.

4. Mitigating volunteer burnout

Volunteers are the lifeblood of nonprofits, which are typically understaffed. Recruits often vary widely in age, skills, management training and commitment. This can cause inconsistent participation and turnover for nonprofits. Worse, less funding during COVID-19 means more hiring freezes. Volunteers asked to take over employee roles often feel stretched to the limit. All of which make effective change management essential.

A Central Texas food bank recognized the pandemic was increasing food insecurity. To serve larger senior and compromised populations, it needed extra safety measures that required volunteer participation. But creating Awareness of the urgency for change kicked up some resistance. Before adopting new ways, volunteers wanted to know what was in it for them and how it impacted their work. The plan was to guide them through each stage of the transition. Tools like resistance interviews helped the change team learn where volunteers were stuck and what they needed to make headway.

5. Supporting innovative change

The pandemic has forced nonprofits to cancel the in-person fundraisers so critical to their operating models. They have always competed for donations, but now money is flowing into COVID-19-related health programs and away from other essential services. To survive, nonprofits like Dallas’ Heart House are shifting to online fundraisers to draw new audiences and funds.

Heart House helps refugee children thrive with after-school support using social emotional learning. The organization was already aware of the need to change to virtual fundraising. To boost its leader’s confidence and skills with new approaches, one-on-one coaching reduced barriers to Knowledge while technical training improved Ability. This helped avoid potential concerns about audience engagement through strong video scripting and program timing. By responding in a creative way to change, Heart House lets people give from their hearts while keeping them safe at home.



Source: Heart House

Change Management Helps Nonprofits Become Adaptable

Rapid transformation is now the new normal as workforces and technologies shift. Throw in a pandemic and being able to move quickly becomes even more important. For nonprofits that want to build a change-agile culture, the Prosci Methodology and ADKAR Model offer an easy framework for enabling employees, volunteers and leaders to move through transitions and adopt change.


Leza Isadora

Leza Isadora

Leza Isadora is a communications specialist and Prosci Certified Change Practitioner for Broadcast Your Love and other organizations, where she opens lines of communication to align people with change. Combining strategic communications and change management techniques, she creates targeted messaging and training that help companies successfully transition. Certified in crisis communication and trained in nonviolent communication, she focuses on a human-centered, empathetic approach. Leza is dedicated to improving understanding of how people go through change.

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