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podcast: grow or bust? the future of small nonprofits

The very first season of The Small Nonprofit is coming to a close and we’ve rounded up a handful of our guests for a very special episode!

There is a huge emphasis on growth for all nonprofits, but especially small ones. It’s almost an obsession. How do we grow more? How do we raise more money? What happens if we don’t grow this year?

All this got us thinking - is it grow or bust? What happens when a small nonprofit doesn’t grow? Is there a shelf-life for small organizations?

We decided to get some of our guests to weigh in on this topic, including Paul Nazareth, Heather Nelson, Matt Fullbrook, Adil Dhalla, Vanessa Chase Lockshin, and Avery Swartz.

there’s a lot of love for the little folks

Maybe it’s because we’re a podcast for small nonprofits, but there’s definitely a lot of love and value for the small organizations.

Many of our guests talk about the mission and impact being the driving factor to our decisions around growth. If we’re doing a good job as a small organization, that can be enough. In fact, growing too much can hurt our ability to do a good job.

Growing requires an investment and can be hard to sustain. There are certainly a lot of complexities that come with being a larger organization that can get in the way of your mission.

To quote Simon Sinek, start with “why”. Your decisions around growth should start with a strong rationale that drives back to your impact.

but these are wicked problems and the world around us is moving quickly

On the flip side, the world around us is constantly evolving and there is very much a culture of grow or die. Growth can mean evolution and we need to keep up with the changes that are happening around us. If we don’t, we could quickly become irrelevant and our impact can diminish.

so what’s the right answer?

Of course, as with any good question, the answer is always “it depends”. More specifically with our sector, it comes down to a question of “what can we manage”, or “what are our resources”. Let us know what you think in the comments below!

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The Small Nonprofit podcast is produced by Eloisa Jane Mariano