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Stuck in the Mud – Now What?

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Dr. Jeffrey W. Steed, MBA

If your organization has been active for more than a few years, you may have settled into some operational procedures that could benefit from review. I’m not suggesting that you’re really “stuck in the mud,” but it’s possible that you have developed some habits that are keeping you from reaching your full potential. The following ideas, which I’ve clustered into categories, may help you think about ways to improve your organization.

Your Board and staff

  • Maximize the contributions of your Board by evaluating how each member’s special talents can help advance the organization’s purpose.
  • Keep the Board and staff on track with the organization’s strategic plan.  If the organization does not currently have a strategic plan, begin to prepare for a strategic planning process with the Board and staff.
  • Take time to review your current staff related to their skills, experience, and individual responsibilities. Do you need to realign the responsibilities of staff members to make better use of their talents?
  • Evaluate the morale of the staff. Based on your evaluation, consider the need for morale-building activities.
  • Does your staff need any training to improve their effectiveness in light of evolving changes relating to their areas of work?
  • Brainstorm (with both Board and staff) on potential alliances with other nonprofits that can allow for maximum impact for the organizations involved.

Your Donors

  • Remind donors of their impact by using real-life stories in all of your publications (digital and print) describing how you have helped your constituents. Such stories personalize the organization’s underlying purpose.

Your Finances

  • Analyze your portfolio to ensure that your investments are diversified among a range of asset classes.
  • Maintain integrity of finances. Have periodic audits conducted and make the information available to constituents.
  • Insure that the organization has cash reserves (and/or liquid assets easily convertible to cash) to cover operating expenses for a minimum of three to six months. If such reserves are not currently in place, incorporate a monthly savings line item into the budget to build up the cash reserves.
  • Look for cost efficiencies within the organization’s infrastructure. Do you have any outside services that can be renegotiated for a lower fee?
  • Consider if there are any technical advances that can increase operational efficiencies and decrease costs.

Your Constituents/Purpose

  • Study marketing efforts to make sure that the message you are sharing and the media you are using are serving your intended purpose with the targeted constituents.
  • Be on the offense by regularly evaluating changes in the focus of the organization. Consider additional procedures that need to be created and implemented to maximize your effectiveness in any changing area.

Think of these suggestions as opportunities for renovating your procedures or revitalizing your organization. Through such opportunities, you may be able to maximize your effectiveness for the sake of those you serve-and get yourself “unstuck” from a muddy rut!


Jeffrey W. Steed is Vice President of the Arkansas Baptist Foundation and Christian Ministry Services.  He has a Doctor of Ministry degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Texas in Arlington. Steed also has a Master of Divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. He is a business instructor on the adjunct faculty of a local college in Little Rock, Arkansas. Steed has authored several books and articles. To contact the author, please email him at jwsteed@sbcglobal.net.

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