Igniting Nonprofit Growth Through Creative Problem Solving With Vers CEO Justin Price
December 21, 2023

Every nonprofit is different, but the one thing that every leader needs to get good at is creative problem solving. It’s easy to buy an extra microwave for the coworker who always reheats fish for lunch, but when your organization is up against crucial issues that can threaten your mission, simple fixes won’t always suffice.

From fundraising and engagement to managing relationships with the board of directors, nonprofit leaders are constantly facing unforeseen problems that emerge without warning. Unexpected issues can derail even the most well-planned initiatives, leaving leaders searching for solutions with uncertainty. It’s in these moments that the ability to adapt and find Faative solutions becomes a leader's greatest strength. On a recent episode of the Nonprofit Rennaisance podcast, Vers CEO Justin Price explained how prioritizing creative problem solving can be a difference maker for nonprofit leaders.

Root Causes Over Surface Symptoms

Complex problems need complex solutions. Because every problem is unique, creating a step-by-step process for problem solving will almost always fall short. Instead of thinking about troubleshooting as a process, try thinking about it as a mindset shift that’s aimed at understanding the root cause of an issue, as opposed to just the obstacle itself. At its core, it’s about building a culture that fosters critical thinking, diving into the systemic factors contributing to a problem. But the result is solutions that are not only effective in the short-term but also sustainable over the long haul.

Embracing this mindset helps create a collective approach that has a positive impact on an entire organization. It enhances the ability to identify underlying patterns and connections that aren’t always apparent and instills a sense of ownership and responsibility among a team. What you’re left with is a culture where continuous learning and adaptation become the norm. Where challenges are treated as opportunities and complexities are met with depth, understanding, and innovative ways forward.

Outside Knowledge//Inside Growth

Most nonprofits are outward-reaching, hoping to significantly impact the world outside their own organizational boundaries. They have their mission and try every day to make a tangible difference for the people they serve and the issues they are passionate about. But oftentimes, nonprofit leaders struggle to develop strong strategies that effectively engage the outside world. This challenge can be rooted in any number of reasons, like resources, the complexity of the issue at hand, or the difficulty in measuring impact. The result is missed opportunities for impact, all because leaders aren’t willing to admit that they lack the outside perspective to effectively engage their audience.

At Vers, we have a passion to help nonprofits reach their goals. But we don’t exclusively work with nonprofits, in part because it gives our team the opportunity to flex strategic muscles about how to tell impactful, person-centered stories regardless of the brand. Having the dual focus to mix outside perspective with insider knowledge not only enhances our ability to craft meaningful campaigns it also prepares us to help tackle the complex problems nonprofits face. Justin described it by saying, “In a way, it’s like you’ve taken a bunch of insiders, you’ve put them into the pressure of the outside, and you’ve given them that information, and our vision is to be able to bring that back and apply it in a way that we think is healthy for their team and to support their team in a way that’s a really unique advantage for them as a nonprofit.”

The High Cost of Small-Scale Thinking

Nonprofits are too easily dismissed as being limited in scope and trying to survive on constrained budgets. The truth is the nonprofit sector is full of boundless opportunities, driven by innovative thinking and a passion for making a real impact. But realizing it requires a shift towards more creative problem solving strategies that seek to address foundational issues through an outside perspective. By prioritizing creative problem solving, nonprofit leaders can ensure their organizations are resilient, adaptable, and prepared for whatever the future holds.

For more on the importance of creative problem solving, check out Justin’s interview on the Nonprofit Rennaisance. To work with a team with experience solving complex problems, contact Vers today!

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