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Change Management Process for Nonprofits: 3 Crucial Steps You Shouldn’t Skip

Posted in: Blog

The effectiveness and long-term success of any company or organization—especially those operating in the nonprofit sector—requires a willingness and ability to deal with and adapt to situations of change. This means that the organization must be ready and able to adapt to changes by identifying new challenges. However, it also requires an ability to spot potential opportunities that may arise as a result of the aforementioned situation change. This requires leaders and managers to inspire stability and steadfastness in the moving components of the company so that the change doesn’t wreak havoc in the short term. 

But what exactly does this entail? 

Well, firstly and most importantly, leaders and managers need to develop and cultivate an organizational culture based on solidarity, unity, and stability. If this culture is created, it ensures that when periods of difficulty arise that could inspire change, the entire organization is equipped with learned abilities that inspire a positive outcome. One way that this organizational change can be cultivated is by implementing the steps of the change management process.


Understanding the Organizational Change Management Process

The meaning of change management is dynamic. It can vary according to the specific needs of the business in question. For nonprofits, situations of change might come around more often and more frequently than for a company that operates in a regulated industry such as retail or manufacturing. Nonprofits operate in a different realm, one that is responsive to the social and economic needs of the surrounding communities and environments. Social stability is not something that is easy to come by. So, the leaders of nonprofit organizations need to be ready to deal with any major shake-ups when they eventually do come around. 

The steps of the change management process are therefore much more readily applicable to nonprofit organizations. They provide a set of tools, strategies, and workable skills that will help these organizations deal with difficult periods of instability. These change management techniques and steps will help any organization smoothly transition from one period or situation to another. Plus, they will help to grease the wheels of transformation, should it be necessary. But what are the steps and change management principles that nonprofits should implement?


3 Key Steps in the Change Management Process For Nonprofits

Change management relies upon and provides a set of steps and techniques that can help nonprofit organizations manage change. These steps and techniques also ensure nonprofits stay relevant in providing the necessary social and economic services:


1. The ‘Why’ Statement

In general, when any person wants to get involved in a project and get on board with inciting change, they need to understand why that project or change is necessary. The “Why” statement is therefore a prediction of what the future will bring. It will build a foundational understanding of the process of change being undertaken. The Why statement should express the vision of the future and the expected effects of the planned change. This step is essential for cultivating an organizational culture that believes in long-term stability and success.

2. The Executive Sponsor

A nonprofit organization must have an executive leader that also acts as a sponsor. This sponsor will successfully navigate and manage the process of change. But this is where things get tricky, especially because nonprofits are often in a position of having to fundraise to support major internal initiatives. When navigating a period of instability and change, the executive sponsor should be someone who does more than simply improve a budget request. Instead, they should be interested in the goals and vision of the nonprofit. And they should be someone who can write up and execute a change management plan.

3. The Reinforcements

In any process of change management planning, there should always be considerable effort and power placed into the bringing in of helpful reinforcements. Bringing more people on board who work in line with the vision of the nonprofit can only help smooth the transitional period that the company is experiencing. But furthermore, the reinforcements that were on board before the change management process started should be rewarded. Doing this will make them feel valued throughout any periods of instability. 


Change Management Challenges

Implementing a successful change management process is challenging. So, there’s no doubt that leaders will face obstacles along the way. It’s imperative that you identify these challenges and understand how to solve them when they eventually arise:


Lack of executive support

Above, it was explained that an executive sponsor who is involved and passionate is a necessity for any successful change management process. A lot of times, nonprofits struggle because their executive sponsor isn’t able to approve the budget needed for the scope of the project or isn’t able to provide the inspiring leadership to get all internal staff members on board. When exploring potential applicants for the executive sponsor role, take your time and apply a vigorous interview and onboarding process.


Lack of effective communication

The process of change requires a unified workforce that understands the situation of the organization. A lack of proper communication can lead to misalignment and a lack of belief in the goals that the nonprofit is attempting to achieve. Make sure to host regular meetings. Give everyone a chance for their voices to be heard and properly manage situations of unease and tension. 


Change-resistant culture

It’s natural for any worker to want to work in an organization and environment of stability. Unfortunately for nonprofits, this is simply not always how it pans out. Instead, a lot of the time, a nonprofit might be forced to change due to socioeconomic conditions or a change in executive support. Cultivating an organizational culture that’s aware of these eventualities and prepared to deal with them is imperative to a successful change management process. 


How Exponent Partners Can Help Your Nonprofit Deal With Change

Change can be difficult to deal with on your own. Exponent Partners consists of a team of experts that understand the challenges that a period of organizational change can bring. The team can help you to implement the principles of the change management process and create a plan for long-term survival and eventual stability. This is supported by an excellent track record and determination to stand by organizations committed to bringing about social change

Partnering with us makes it easier to implement a change management process and to keep your nonprofit organization running smoothly—no matter what challenges it faces. Read our white paper on change management for more useful information on how to plan for change and seize opportunities when adopting new technology in your organization. If you’re interested to know more, contact us today and let’s drive positive change together.