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A New Year, a New Decade, a New Outlook

A New Year, a New Decade, a New Outlook

February 18, 2020
Kathy Gaston

You know the old saying, “Hindsight is 20|20!” Well, I am proposing a new saying for this new decade: “20|20 vision is staying focused on the future.”

Where do you want your nonprofit to be at the end of this decade? Do you have the board to get you there? How are your financial resources going to sustain you in the future? 

Planning for the next ten years should be an important priority for your organization. Is it time to create/update your strategic plan? Successful nonprofits always work from a current strategic plan and constantly ask the questions, “Are we true to our mission?” and “How can we better serve our constituents?” 

Strategic planning is not a one-day or one-weekend event. It is a process that involves your board and key players in your organization. Many nonprofits get “down in the weeds” during their planning process when they should be looking for a higher vantage point. Partnering with outside counsel is always a good idea so that no one’s agenda takes front and center in the planning process.

Do you have the board you want or the board you deserve? If you aren’t sure, read more here. Your board development committee should be prioritizing the needs of your organization and matching those needs with potential board members. Don’t make the mistake of choosing high-profile names for your board if they don’t have an investment in your organization. You don’t need seat fillers; you need actively engaged board members who support your values and mission. I have seen too many organizations with huge boards but very few committed volunteers!

As with any nonprofit, you have to have the financial resources to complete your mission. Sit down with your finance committee and map out the future. Start small (this year) and then look broadly at the future. Can you partner with other similar nonprofits to appeal to funders? How can you shake up your annual giving program to stand out in the crowd? If you don’t have a planned giving program, start one. It can start small to create a lasting legacy for your organization and your donors. Don’t wait until the ship is sinking before taking an in-depth look at your financial growth.

We want to make 2020 a time to renew and refresh so that in ten years you can look back at your success and celebrate! Make 2020 a time to focus on the future.


Kathy Gaston

Kathy joined Lighthouse Counsel after 20 years as director of development at The Oak Hill School in Nashville, where she led two successful capital campaigns. She also directed all volunteer activities and shepherded an annual fund campaign that achieved 100 percent parent participation. Kathy is founder of the Nashville Area Development Directors Association, has served on a number of nonprofit boards. She served as board chair for the Eating Disorders Coalition of Tennessee and Lung Association of Tennessee. She has also served as president of Nashville Bar Auxiliary and chair of Lamar Alexander’s Inaugural Ball. She is a popular presenter and received the Circle of Excellence Award from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education for overall improvement in educational fundraising. Kathy holds a bachelor of science degree in education from the University of North Georgia. Kathy’s favorite quote: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” (Maya Angelou)