STARTING TODAY I'M SPENDING A BIG CHUNK OF TIME shifting the furnishings around in the nonprofit office where I work part-time. My organization will soon be sharing space with another nonprofit in order to save a bit on rent. The last time I had to share an office with others was almost 20 years ago and that was with a co-worker. So, as much as I want to help the bottom line of my association, I'm a little worried about the personal workstyle adjustment I'm facing.
I wasn't surprised, then, when I learned from a group of rural nonprofit leaders earlier this month that workplace sharing and consolidation are trends they're seeing on the horizon. But, interestingly, no one knew of an organization that was actually doing it. So far, it's just talk. Almost in the same breath the group agreed that another trend is the demise of some nonprofits -- indeed, about three cultural organizations in their area were down for the count -- an arts council, an performing arts center, and a sports hall of fame.
None of us, including myself until just now, made a direct connection between the two trends the group cited. Wouldn't you think that if your organization was witnessing the demise of a nonprofit in your town or region that you'd be all over looking for lessons and putting them into practice? It seems as though many of us are looking for the lessons, but far fewer are making any type of substantial readjustments. Perhaps a tweak here or there is enough, but is it?
Is it -- when, almost daily, we are bombarded with tough news from the nonprofit sector? Is it -- when we're warned that the "new normal" for nonprofits requires a new mindset, an almost complete shift in the way we relate to stakeholders, plan and execute fundraising, and measure our impact?
I fear that for many cultural nonprofits there are far too many that are paralyzed with fear of this uncertain future and by the change that may be required to thrive in it; too many without smart enough leadership who can see the path and help us stumble over it; too many content with waiting it out, to see how the other nonprofit fares before making a move.I'm heading back to sorting out where my desk is going to go.
Photo: Deer in the headlights from T Hall via Flickr