We all know that times are hard. Budget cuts, uncertainty around funding and increased pressure on the resources that are left mean that many organisations across the public and not-for-profit sectors are struggling. But now is not the time to get what you can from where you can. Now is the time to focus carefully on what you want to achieve.
When financial reality bites, it is tempting to go after whatever cash is available. So we see small charities bidding for any grant that is going, local authorities looking for commercial sponsors and universities rushing to take on as many fee-paying students as they can. But while such an approach can help to secure resources in the short term, it can also cause serious long term damage.
In doing whatever is needed to secure funding, whether that means starting up a new project because it fits a funder’s criteria, being ‘flexible’ in their principles to accommodate new revenue-generating activity or simply trying to be all things to all people, organisations risk losing sight of what they set out to achieve. This, in turn, can mean that they perform less well and that they lose the support of those around them.
Now, more than ever, organisations need to focus on who they are and what they want to achieve. By developing and sticking to a clear strategy, they can make sure that everything they do helps them to achieve their aims, rather than detract from them. This is probably not the easy way. And it is almost certainly not the most financially lucrative way. But it is the way to make a real difference.