There is not one nonprofit organization that wants to cut programs it believes furthers its mission. But too often, nonprofits keep programs long after they’ve stopped being effective and worth the cost. Sometimes it is necessary to scale back or even eliminate programs so that funds can be better spent launching new initiatives that help the organization meet its core mission.
Communities are constantly changing and your nonprofit must be prepared to change with them. Do your homework and research what is working and what is not – never assume the effectiveness of your programs.
- Survey participants, members, donors, employees, volunteers and other stakeholders about which of your programs are the most—and the least—effective and why.
- Review your community’s demographic data for changes relevant to your program offerings.
- Ask the community what they know of unmet needs or new trends that should affect your programming decisions.
While you don’t want to eliminate anyone’s opinions, you do want to be careful about how the feedback is used to rid your organization of obsolete programs and create new ones. If one of your programs is clearly ineffective and another is wildly successful, the decision to redeploy funds to the successful program is obvious. And keep in mind that new programs can be variations of old ones, just re-vamped to better serve your nonprofits core mission, values and goals.
Undoubtedly, you already have goals in place that measure each of your programs progress. If you don’t, now is the time to set them up. Being able to easily identify what is working and what is not, is pivotal to your nonprofit’s success.
Before deciding whether to cut a program or start a new one, be strategic and realistic about your expectations. Being able to recognize when it’s time for change and how to best use what funding is available will help ensure successful programs.