How to Advocate for Change at Your Nonprofit

Advocating for Change at Your Nonprofit: A 3-Step Plan for Building Your Case

Change is not an unfamiliar concept for nonprofits. After all, you work hard every day to make positive changes in the world. But when it comes to internal changes, like replacing an inefficient process or adopting new technology, some leaders can be more resistant than others.

It’s easy to understand why. Humans are creatures of habit, and once we’re familiar and comfortable with a routine or tool, the idea of doing things differently can feel intimidating—especially when we feel we’re too busy to learn something new. But nonprofits need to evolve with the times, and getting set in your ways may ultimately make your organization less effective over time. 

To help you successfully advocate for change at your nonprofit, follow this three-step plan when building your case and delivering it to stakeholders. 

1. Outline what the situation is today

You and your team may be very familiar with the problem at hand—but keep in mind that your leaders may not be. For example, if there are unnecessary steps in a process that only serve to slow you down, you may be frustrated on a daily basis by jumping through those extra hoops. But since your leaders only see the end result, the process may look like it’s working from their perspective. Give a clear, concise overview of what the current situation looks like to ensure you’re all on the same page and not working with different understandings that might jeopardize your case for change. 

2. Highlight the consequences of not changing

Once you’ve ensured your leaders understand the current situation, hit them with the consequences of continuing with the way things are now. What will happen if you don’t change something? How much time is being wasted every week by those cumbersome extra steps or the outdated technology you’re using—and how will that add up over time? What is the cost to your organization? Try to focus on facts and figures as opposed to feelings and anecdotes, which may not carry quite the same weight—though if the problem may cause some of your best people to become disengaged in their work and leave, that’s worth highlighting, too. 

3. Paint a picture of the future

By this stage, your leaders should have a clear sense that something isn’t working. Now it’s time to offer a compelling vision of the future by laying out a potential solution to the problem. Emphasize how the solution will improve people’s jobs, support the organization’s strategy, and enable greater mission alignment and success. Don’t oversell your solution—but don’t undersell it, either. The goal is to leave people with all the information they need to make the right solution for your nonprofit, as well as the drive to make a change.

Adapt, evolve, and grow

From new technology to shifts in donor behavior, the nonprofit sector is always evolving. Don’t be afraid of change—embrace it as an opportunity to do things even better than before. 

To help your team evolve and grow their skills over time, consider investing in a learning and development solution like LinkedIn Learning that gives them access to thousands of on-demand, expert-led courses on topics ranging from change management to data analytics and everything in between. Learn more by contacting our team today.

This post was inspired by the LinkedIn Learning Blog article “Change Management: 3 Steps to Make the Case for Change and Inspire a Following,” authored by Christina Charenkova.

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