Leading Your Nonprofit Through Uncertainty

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How do you lead your nonprofit in uncertain times?

It’s a challenging time for nonprofit leaders. It can be tough to figure out the best ways to pursue your mission and grow your organization in the face of economic uncertainty and an ever-changing pandemic. How should you be thinking about leadership? What are the best approaches for meeting these challenges?

This week on The Responsive Weekly, Cherian Koshy joined us to talk about leadership, strategic planning, and change management in the current moment.

The Quick Summary

Watch the Full Recording Here

Meet Cherian

Cherian Koshy is a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE), Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy (CAP), & AFP Master Trainer. Cherian is the Chief Development Officer and principal at Endowment Partners, an investment management firm that solely focuses on nonprofits, foundations, and endowments.

He serves on 9 (!) nonprofit boards, and has more than 20 years of fundraising experience in annual funds, major gifts, planned giving, and capital campaigns. As the head of fundraising for various nonprofits, he’s personally raised more than $100M. As a coach and consultant, he helps organizations to scale their revenue growth and build stronger teams. The nonprofits he works with design strategies that give them back time and develop predictable success.

His industry-specific thought leadership has been featured in Advancing Philanthropy, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, the Institute of Fundraising (UK), and dozens of keynote presentations, blogs, webinars, workshops, and podcasts.

Top Takeaways

  • Both toxic positivity (“Everything is GREAT!”) and complacency (“We don’t need to make decisions!”) are dangerous mindsets for leaders.
  • Leadership is not one-size-fits-all. Your leadership style and approach must be based on who you are. There are pros and cons to every leadership style, and different styles are more useful at different stages of organizational development. Other team members can help balance styles.
  • In situations of uncertainty, plan for several scenarios. Maintain versatility in your decision-making process.
  • Plan in shorter cycles and build flexibility into the plan to enable you to change.
  • Approach strategic planning in sprints to stay flexible and agile. (If this idea resonates with you, check out Sarah Olivieri’s Responsive Nonprofit Summit session or episode on The Responsive Weekly.)


Quizzes to get to know yourself and your organization.


Marc A. Pitman, The Surprising Gift of Doubt

Les McKeown, Do Lead

Richard Rumelt, Good Strategy/Bad Strategy


Diane Leonard, Agile training for nonprofits

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