When Do You Launch a New Nonprofit or a New Program?

He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”

Mark 4:26-29

It’s the new year, when people think about new habits, new programs, and maybe new nonprofits.

Yet some of the longest-running nonprofits I’ve come in contact with started with someone already doing the work. The founder jumped in because they saw a way to help people and started working with the people needing help. Their passion was contagious. Then, others started taking up the mantel and joined in. Those first volunteers, donors, and friends became board members. And those board members of long ago knew when the time was right to make it a nonprofit, and not a second too soon. From there, whether the founder was around or not, the work continued.

Whether the founder, staff, or board, it’s important for a group to know when it is appropriate to move and when to step back and watch the nonprofit and its program(s) grow on its own. Sometimes an organization will sprout into a new program before the original had a chance to show if it will thrive or not. That first program has to be ready to run itself before the nonprofit ventures into a new program. Know when your program is ripe.

Today’s verse shows the power of giving space for things to grow and not getting caught up in the details. This is an important lesson for board members or founders, who feel the rush of starting something new, whether that is a new nonprofit, a new program, or a new capital campaign. The important take-away is to know when it is time to harvest and time to plant; One program at a time.

Board members need to know when programs or policies are ripe, by watching what is occurring. That does not mean they are fertilizing the soil, transplanting, or otherwise getting involved in the process. Board members are not involved in the day-to-day duties and needs of the nonprofit. Boards exist to note when it is time to harvest or plant new seed. In other words, the board is there not as primary volunteers and definitely not staff, but as policy creators and strategy advisors for the executive team.

Whether your organization began small or big, consider these key take-aways:

  • Don’t move into a new program until your other programs are self-sustaining.
  • If you are a board member, be cautious in getting involved in the day-to-day unless there are no staff.
  • Be brave enough to focus on one movement at a time, then harvest the rewards.

Here’s the lingering question: When do you know the time is right to harvest? Share your thoughts and stories on Facebook @HopelesslyHopefulBooks. https://www.facebook.com/HopelesslyHopefulBooks

One final tip–your personal core values can become a stabilizing factor when you are launching a new program. Watch this 20-minute FREE webinar to find your Core Values Re-Imagined.

Photo by Warren Wong on Unsplash

© 2021, Mollie Bond. All rights reserved. Originally published at www.molliebond.org.

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