Planning your Nonprofit’s Future Organization Chart

For many nonprofits, future team planning can feel really overwhelming, especially because many leaders are just trying to keep their heads above water with their roles and responsibilities today. However, planning for the future can actually relieve some of the stress by getting everyone on the same page about how you will grow your staff intentionally, and the time period over which that will happen. 

The best future team planning happens in alignment with your nonprofit’s strategic plan, which should outline your organization’s most important priorities, goals and objectives over the next one to three years. It’s also helpful to have other plans, such as your program, marketing and fundraising plans in place. The more visibility your nonprofit has into its future, the clearer team planning becomes.

Map Out Your Nonprofit Organization Chart

If you don’t already have your organization chart mapped out, start your future nonprofit team planning by doing just that. We recommend building your organization chart out based on functional areas such as strategy, operations, programs, marketing, and fundraising, keeping in mind that at smaller organizations one person may cover multiple functions, while at larger organizations, functions may be staffed by teams. If any of your most important functional areas are not staffed, you’ll know filling roles in these areas is a priority for your future organization chart.

Think About Your Nonprofit’s Roles in Terms of Outcomes

Once you’ve laid out your nonprofit organization chart by functional area, you’ll also want to audit your current team’s ability to carry out the goals in your strategic plan to identify if there are any areas where you might need to hire. For this part of your planning, it’s helpful to think about roles at your organization in terms of outcomes, including and beyond your nonprofit leadership. For example, if your strategic plan defines that you need to:

  • Raise awareness of your organization
  • Increase the reach of your programs
  • Track your social return on investment

Ask yourself: Do we have people at our organization who can already support each of these outcomes? Is there someone on staff in a different role who has the capability to drive these desired outcomes in a new role? Where might I need new staff to reach our goals?

Conduct Team-Driven Planning With Your Nonprofit Leadership and Others

Getting team input on your future nonprofit organization chart can also be important. For many nonprofits, we recommend team-driven planning, where members of an entire team come together to vision your future organization chart, specifically as it relates to their department. 

This type of planning should take place either at the beginning or end of the calendar year or the end of your nonprofit’s fiscal year (prior to budgeting). It can also happen at the conclusion of your strategic planning process or if there is a major change afoot at your organization.

You can start by looking at the current nonprofit organization chart together and talking about the outcomes your organization is looking to drive through both your strategic plan and your department’s plan. These discussions are a great time to re-center the team around the department’s vision and goals, as well as the organization’s mission, vision and values. The team can discuss what has been working well, what hasn’t been working so well, what an ideal future team looks like, and what it doesn’t look like. At the end of the planning session, the team should map out their ideal department structure, and prioritize roles that need to be added and a timeline for adding them as budget becomes available.

Develop Your Future Nonprofit Organization Chart

Once you’ve mapped out your current nonprofit organization chart, identified areas where you may need to add staff based on overall organization goals and received input through team-driven planning, you can develop your future organization chart. Begin with your nonprofit leadership, and go from there. When it is finalized, determine which roles you need to add in order of priority (and based on your strategic plan) and develop a timeline for hiring based on your existing and projected budget.

Want more?

Download the Future Org Chart Planning Worksheets to start building a vision for the future of your organization’s team.

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