Not-for-profit organisations can be particularly susceptible to a resistance to change – they think that because something has not been done before, it shouldn’t be done now. Often members of the organisation have been there for decades, and whlie it’s not prospering, they are comfortable with the status quo.
Recently a not for profit tennis club I’m working with were trying to solve a two-fold problem of dwindling membership and insufficient finances. They had been trying to cost-cut their way out of the financial problem by doing things like monitoring and limiting the electricity usage, cutting off the hot water (including for showers) and reducing the type of food sold to pre-packaged and unhealthy options requiring no preparation and electricity.
As a result, existing members were disgruntled – no more showers after their matches, unappealing food and limited drinks on offer and even maintenance issues not being addressed. In this climate of disatisfaction there would certainly be no way to attract more members.
In working through possible solutions and strategies, I suggested that the club was built and would grow by attracting young players, and keeping them. This way they would be able to make use of their annual membership fees, as well as the goods they purchased in the clubhouse over the many years they were members.
Immediately the board experienced Resistance – ‘We’ve never sold ice-creams before, so we think that’s a terrible idea’ was the near-unanimous reaction to the question of increasing the product range.
This mindset is incredibly difficult to shift, and could require a huge shock to their way of working before they are ready to embrace their new reality.
What actions would you take to guide them gently towards a fresher take on their value proposition?