Life Cycle Stages – all nonprofit go through these stages, and the makeup of the board is an essential factor in how the organization meets the challenges of each. The process isn’t inevitable and progressive though, so taking time to identify the current stage an organization is in has benefits prior to board recruiting.
The book, Navigating the Organizational Lifecycle: A Capacity-Building Guide for Nonprofit Leaders by Paul M. Connolly is a good resource for identifying an organization’s life cycle stage. This introduction provides chapter summaries and a look into the appendices included in the book.
“Nonprofit organizations and programs are [much like humans, in that,] as people continue to mature, they begin to understand more about the world and themselves. Over time, they develop a certain kind of wisdom that sees them through many of the challenges in life and work. They learn to plan and to use a certain amount of discipline to carry through on those plans. They learn to manage themselves. To survive well into the future, organizations and programs must be able to do this, as well. Experienced leaders have learned to recognize the particular life cycle that an organization or program is going through. These leaders understand the types of problems faced by the organization or program during the life cycle. That understanding gives them a sense of perspective and helps them to decide how to respond to decisions and problems in the workplace.” Excepted from Carter McNamara, Free Management Library.
Fieldstone Alliance provides numerous free online tools for nonprofits, including the Nonprofit Life Stage Assessment tool for determining what stage your organization is in currently. “The tool will help your organization plan for future needs, make decisions proactively, anticipate challenges, and determine what adjustments might be appropriate. Additionally, knowledge about the stage your organization is in will help you realize that some of the challenges your organization is experiencing are normal”.