Nonprofit Strategies: Surviving versus Farming

farming a crop
09.25.2013By

Every few months I’m invited to attend a board meeting to discuss how social media could be used better. And I’m always surprised how much time is spent focusing on quick ways to get cash, rather than keeping the donors they have. In fact, at one meeting, people spent most of their time writing out checks for the following month’s rent!

Penny wise and pound foolish, as the saying goes…

Surviving versus Farming

Yes, it’s natural want to focus even more on short-term fixes to survive––especially when money is thin. But in survival mode, you dial up board members and large donors. You call in favors. You don’t Tweet and post updates on Facebook.

Facebook––and all of social media––is like a farm, where growing a healthy crop takes at least a year. The crops you’re reaping right now were born from the work you did 12 months ago.

The Future is On the Farm

The farmer knows that she can’t have apples next week. She knows that apples take two to three years to get a good yield. And if she’s in survival mode, she’ll sell off a few horses and a tractor. But selling those things will hurt––big time––because the farm is her destination. And she needs horses and tractors to get there.

What do you think?

  • I think that’s a great analogy John. Compared to the mid 1930’s, the
    U.S. has over 4 million less farms today. Yet population has grown
    and output is still strong. What could nonprofits learn from the 2
    million or so that remain? I do believe that you reap what you sow. Near-sighted approaches that promote instant gratification are not particularly helpful to an organization- especially during stormy times. Resiliency is developed through consistently focused effort- not short-term fixes that may prove detrimental or even catastrophic later.