The non-profit organization in question is suffering from a high turnover rate due to volunteers’ burnout. Inconsistency in staffing leads to the overload of the loyal members, namely, ex-homeless veterans who are willing to help but feeling exhausted and demoralized. As emphasized by Bryson (2018), burnout is a common occurrence in non-profit organizations; however, it should not be normalized. A high turnover rate means that more time is spent recruiting and training new people, which is also likely to be delegated to the overburdened volunteers. The current non-profit organization needs a change that would reduce the chances of burnout and other mental challenges among its volunteers. Ideally, work processes should be streamlined to ensure adequate workload that allows for self-care, which is especially important for working in an environment with plenty of emotionally challenging situations.
The organization’s volunteers are pushing for rapid changes, which is understandable. On the bright side, making a plan that aims at fast and meaningful transformation would show volunteers that the organization has their best interests in mind. When made right, organizational change can strengthen follower-leader relationships, increase productivity, and make the organization more sustainable. However, a new plan creates a lot of uncertainty: it is difficult to say whether it is going to be a success or a failure. Besides, rapid changes are challenging to maintain as the organization takes time to accustom to new policies.
Appeasing the organization’s advisory board in the establishment of a new policy that makes it mandatory to take courses before becoming a volunteer might have both a positive and negative impact on strategic planning. On the one hand, the said advisory board members who are lobbying the change are close to state representatives. Such ties help to maintain a good reputation and count on the authorities’ support. From the case description, it is difficult to tell whether being close with state representatives implies better chances at funding, but this possible advantage should not be disregarded.
Another advantage is showing potential candidates what they will have to be dealing with in seminars. In this case, they will be more educated on the subject and aware of the difficulties that might arise in the process. On the other hand, courses do not tackle the problem of burnout directly. If anything, existing volunteers might see seminars as an additional workload that they have to handle on the weekends. Stakeholders might feel betrayed if the leader of the organization prioritizes formalities over their actual problems.
It is obvious that stakeholders’ and the advisory board members’ interests vary. Volunteers want to see immediate changes in the internal structure of the organization while board members focus on external ties and formal policies. However, it should be noted that volunteers and board members have one thing in common: they care about the organization and want to make it better. This similarity in vision could be a starting point for the discussion. It appears that the non-profit organization could benefit from more direct and transparent communication. Instead of widening the gap, stakeholders and board members should make an effort to understand each other. There are pros and cons to what both parties want, and these points should be properly communicated. Hence, it is not impossible to create a policy that would take into account the wants and the needs of both groups.
Bryson, J. M. (2018). Strategic planning for public and nonprofit organizations: A guide to strengthening and sustaining organizational achievement (5th ed.) Web.