8 Challenges Nonprofits Can Squash in 2020

Nonprofits work from a tricky position to push through challenging and changing environments. The fires can seem unending when you’re working in the sector, but one of the internet’s many GIF(t)s to humanity is its ability to help us feel like we’re not alone in our experiences. Likewise, through our work with nonprofit and foundation clients, we strive to build a bridge to success by leveraging our expertise from 20 years of supporting your social sector colleagues navigate common pitfalls of strategy development and change management. We hope that these relatable challenges and solutions will help you squash the obstacles in front of your organization.

1. What are the typical structures or partnerships that help nonprofits to work together?


To affect real change, organizations must coordinate within the industry and intersectionally. However, many clients ask questions like “How do you best shape that relationship? What are the benefits of a coalition vs a joint venture corporation?” To decide which structure will help your organization propel its mission forward, check out this Collaborative Map that outlines the options many of your peers have used when collaborating with organizations.

2. What’s the quickest process to develop a nonprofit strategy?


Until time travel technology catches up with classic 80’s movies, nonprofits won’t be able to go back in time to develop the perfect solutions for the present day. Until then, you’ll need to pace your strategy development and implementation planning. Our approach prioritizes creating strategy in real-time that’s informed by your environment, so your board doesn’t rush to create a thick, written strategy plan that becomes irrelevant due to speed. Read about the tested method to providing a strategy that will effectively achieve your goals in this blog.

3. What are some ideas to help retain employees of color?


HBO’s hit show Insecure gave America a window into how employees of color often feel within the social impact sector. To keep the suggestions simple, Gabrielle Sims from Shah Family Foundation, shared how important the need is for organizations to listen, trust, and respond to people of color. Take time to read Gabrielle’s full interview on her experience as a person of color working in the nonprofit industry.

4. How do I start a new collaboration with a nonprofit?


You and your partner organizations may know you want to work more closely together, but what’s the best first steps to get your partnership off on the right foot? Getting started can be complex, but we’ve compiled and created Collaboration & Restructuring Resources to help your organization navigate the starting process to create a nonprofit collaboration and dig deeper into the insights we’ve experienced from successful collaborations.

5. What can help my organization make clear, informed decisions?


When making decisions, particularly in a group, the criteria for why we choose what we choose isn’t always explicitly stated. Our Strategy Screen tool helps ensure that organizations create a set of priorities to screen various opportunities through and results in an informed rationale for each strategic choice. Using this tool allows for transparency in the decision-making process and avoids situations where leaders choose an action without contemplating key considerations like mission alignment, unique strength utilization, and sustainability.

6. How can my organization clearly share who we are and why we exist?


Even well-established nonprofits can run into the issue where the community doesn’t understand what impact the organization is seeking to make in the present day. If an organization struggles to communicate who they are and why the community should support their existence, larger issues may only compound in the future. Promoting a strong, clear, and compelling Identity Statement is a good first step at demonstrating the vision your organization hopes to bring into reality.

7. What can I do to make strategic decisions as opportunities and challenges arise?


We believe that it’s important to have not only good plans, but good strategy that will help your organization stay adaptable. The Principles for Strategy Development can help focus organizations to develop smart choices in real-time rather than crystalizing detailed blueprints that won’t be helpful as the world around you evolves rapidly.

8. How can I best prepare for changes that will affect my organization?


The world will keep spinning, but we’re here to keep your head from getting too dizzy. We’ve started asserting an added focus to help organizations recognize the need for agility and how to adjust to an ever-changing world. Whether you’re starting your research on change or ready to dive into more detailed perspectives and recommendations, our Change Management Resources have something to benefit your organization.



We know that leading an organization through changing environments and experiences in the social impact sector is challenging and rewarding work. At La Piana Consulting, we’re passionate about partnering with organizations like yours to capitalize on your perspective and our experience to generate customized and tangible solutions that will support your mission and goals. These challenges are experiences many of our clients have successfully navigated with our support and if you’d like more information on how La Piana can support your organization’s efforts to develop strategy and adjust to change, email us at We’d love to hear from you and we’re here to help.

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