With October quickly slipping away many organizations are hard at work developing business plans for the coming year. Others may be engaged in creating new long-range (whatever that means) strategic plans.

For nonprofits and churches, that means leaders, board members, key staff and volunteers-and perhaps a few select community partners-are hard at work, though hopefully not locked up in some windowless room with too much air conditioning. It is time for the creative juices to flow and pack into next year whatever you did not get to this year-just kidding.

I love strategy and planning. I love the smell of chalk and dry markers in the morning! Sorry-I got a little carried away.

While problem-solving meetings are an important part of life, they can be pretty dour. But, planning for the future gives us permission to think outside the box, have some fun and dream. I love it!

Just a suggestion, though, as you make your plan.  Aside from the normal categories you review for the coming year, like; the programming needs of those you serve, fund and friend development, fixed expenses and the like, I believe there is one slant on planning that most of us fail to take into account. It crosses over every department, every activity, inside and outside your organization. And it may well be eating away right now at your organization’s ability to deliver high impact services. I am talking about generational change!

I recently heard a presentation by a really smart guy-Peter Brinckerhoff-who gave an overview of a book he wrote-Generations-The Challenge of a Lifetime for Your Nonprofit. Peter makes many good points and he really got us all thinking about huge change that is going on right under our noses.

His point is, leaders work with and rely on many stakeholders yet we do little to manage this critical asset. Think about it. You probably deal with and rely on multiple individuals in five generational groups-the Greatest Generation, the Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Gen X, and finally Gen@, as he refers to those sometimes called The Millennials.

Peter clearly illustrates how each generation has its own priorities, motivations, triggers, and values. And it is these differences that we as leaders must address as we recruit and lead. Makes sense since each generation was impacted by different key events and cultural phenomena and therefore has different ‘hot buttons”.

Think about it. Your organization heavily relies on people playing important roles in each of the five groups. Differences between each group include: motivations, values, what is important in life, what brings them to your nonprofit, etc. Do you communicate with each group according to its unique perspective or, like most of us, do you use the same “language” for everyone.

Now, let’s take this discussion beyond volunteers. Let’s take these communication, motivation, values, and demeanor variations to other groups you absolutely need pulling in the same direction: your board, staff, donors, strategic community partners, and more.

This leads Peter (and me) to a couple of questions: Do you take these generational issues into account when recruiting new volunteers, directors, staff, or your donor base? If so, how?

Some of your volunteers and staff wear backpacks and earphones. They are the pool from which you will be choosing your future directors and key leaders. How are you reaching out to relate and engage them?

I suggest you get Peter’s book and dig into it. It is very readable and highly effective at laying out the case and solutions.

And, as always, feel free to call me-let’s talk