ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How To Turn Around a Non Profit Organization In Crisis

Updated on June 23, 2012

Engineering a Comeback

Want to skip right to the template to help you get started drafting your turnaround plan? Click here.

There are literally thousands of non profit organizations in the United States. At any given time, some significant number of them experience an organizational crisis of some kind. These moments of acute organizational distress can be brought on by financial distress, board strife, serious operational challenges, or any combination thereof.

These challenging moments are particularly difficult for small to mid sized community based organizations such as community centers. community development corporations, theatre organizations, non profits serving youth and many other non profits doing community based work.

This is often the case for a fairly straightforward reason: many such non profits are led by boards of average people who are mission driven but may often have little practical experience in the management and policy direction of a small to mid sized corporation, which is what these organizations are. Naturally, when major challenges occur, board members can quickly become overwhelmed by the circumstances and become paralyzed. The organization grinds to a halt as the board flounders and if the crisis at hand isn't addressed, eventually the organization will succumb.

In those situations where the board cannot seem to chart a course forward, one worthwhile approach to break through the logjam is to develop a turnaround plan. A turnaround plan is essentially a focused, time limited working document that accomplishes a few key things:

  • Succinctly and accurately describes the problem
  • Proposes the broad outlines of a solution
  • Lays out specific action items for implementation of the solutions

How To Use Your Turnaround Plan

Its vitally important to understand the purpose of your turnaround plan and the audience for it. The turnaround plan is not a document in which you lay out in excruciating detail how you will fix all the organizations problems. Rather, it's purpose is to outline in somewhat general terms how you intend to solve the problems at hand. It is not a set of instructions on fixing your broken organization, it's a road map to the final destination of a thriving functional organization. It has two audiences. The internal audience of the board and staff (if your organization has both) and the external audience of your funders, supporters, stakeholders and volunteers.

Typically, your funders and stakeholders often know your organization is in distress and will be skeptical of any request for support that is not accompanied by a plan of action to fix the problems. Once your turnaround plan is drafted, you schedule meetings with your key stakeholders, supporters and funders, share the plan with them and ask for their feedback and advice on your plan. This is key and where the value of the turnaround plan shows up. What you will find when you use this approach is that your stakeholders and funders will not only gladly give you their feedback, they will often provide you with recommendations that improve your plan! In many cases, they will explicitly tell you "if you do ABC, we could help you in XYZ way.

This is the top benefit of a turnaround plan document. It provides the vehicle for you to articulate a vision for the future to your stakeholders and actively engage them in the process of restoring your organization to health.

Need a template to help you get started drafting your turnaround plan? Click here.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Political Season profile imageAUTHOR

      Political Season 

      6 years ago from Indianapolis

      Thaanks for the encouragement. After many years working with non profits struggling to overcome adversity, this is one of the learnings I've taken away from the turnaround successes (and failures). I'm glad you found it useful. If it helps you turn around an organization, let us hear about it.

    • Djaak profile image


      6 years ago from Johannesburg, South Africa

      Very cool article man. Very helpful and informative.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)