Four Strategies for Nonprofit Success In 2021

Nonprofits spent most of 2020 in a reactive mode caused by pandemic induced disruption and uncertainty. Those same difficulties will continue well into the new year.

Resolving to take intentional action rather than being stymied by constantly reacting is how organizations can proactively keep their mission moving forward despite the challenges being faced.

Here are four strategies for stimulating success in 2021.


Many of the difficulties now impacting nonprofits were like a dormant volcano waiting to erupt. The pandemic has revealed weaknesses caused by practices that should have been corrected long ago.

Unfortunately organizations built on foundations unable to withstand financial storms are feeling the consequences. Nonprofits not making time for good planning are missing the benefit of anticipating problems that could have been addressed in advance of a disruptive environment. Absence of fully engaged boards not developed with purpose and process is causing a lack of strategic guidance that would be so valuable right now.

Take adaptive action by reviewing current practices that aren’t delivering desired results. This is the time to identify obstacles to your success and make needed changes.

Review your strategic plan. Consider short term windows of working toward your vision. Use the rinse and repeat approach. Take incremental action, evaluate, and adjust with needed next steps to keep positive momentum going.

 Be creative

“Out of adversity comes opportunity,” is good insight from Ben Franklin.

Your nonprofit will miss out if it’s not considering how to not just survive but actually thrive in the present conditions. How can taking time to think differently benefit your organization? What imaginative approaches could stimulate new results?

Demonstrate a willingness to welcome innovative solutions by asking staff, board members, donors, and volunteers for new ideas. Don’t forget to also solicit opinions from those who receive your services.

Consider possibilities not thought previously possible. Ask, what if? and give your creative thought process room to work.

Communicate effectively

Communicating effectively is critical.

Good communication is the anchor for maintaining relationships. Individuals supporting your cause want to know what actions are being taken. Board members want to be kept apprised.  

Essential to effective communication is clarity and consistency. Make sure your messaging is appropriate for right now and is being delivered with needed frequency. Improve message delivery by expanding your communication platforms.


Ask for help

Avoid isolation. Trying to soldier on, not willing to admit you and your organization need help, is a mistake.

There is a spirit of collaboration and support being demonstrated right now with shared solutions being developed through cooperative problem solving.  What collaborative relationships would benefit your nonprofit?

Take advantage of resources available from your professional associations, and seek advice from colleagues. Increase board engagement by requesting assistance with specific issues that need strategic thinking.


Turn 2021 into a year of opportunity by resolving to make success happen with these four strategies. What actions will your organization take to position it for positive results in the year ahead?

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