Sometimes it’s hard to start. Beginnings can be daunting!  This is top of mind for me as I write this (only my second!) blog post. We’ve heard: the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, but what is that step? A board chair emailed me: “Now that we have put together the strategic plan, I’m struggling a little with next steps.  I particularly have major concerns over the boards’ getting up to speed on the fundraising.  Do you have suggestions on how to proceed?”

Nonprofit leaders begin new things all the time. You have past experience to draw on and first steps may be obvious to you. But, like the board chair above, with something new we can lack confidence in our own judgment.

When it’s hard to start it helps to go back to purpose. What do you intend to create or achieve?  Why are you doing this?  It might help the board chair to consider first if each board member has really bought into the purpose of the board’s fundraising goals. What is each board member’s WHY? Discussing this can help each person discover his/her personal motivation for helping with fundraising. For nonprofit boards that have little experience with this (like the one in this example) it is really important.  It isn’t enough for the board as a group to intellectually “get it” that fundraising is necessary in support of the mission.  People won’t follow through if they don’t have a feeling that moves them to act.

The board chair believes it’s up to her to know the next step. It isn’t. Another option is to trust the board members and ask them: What do they need to get going on this goal? What do they think the first step is?  Sometimes we need to share responsibility, not carry it alone.

What works for you when it’s hard to start? I’d love to hear from you.