Many Not-for-Profits (NFPs) start out small, and relatively uncomplicated with a single program managed and funded by a handful of donors and volunteers in a local context. However, by choice or by circumstance, few if any remain in that simple state forever. NFPs face a broad and complex set of challenges including:

  • Anticipating and managing the expectations of large, varied and often dispersed external and internal stakeholder groups
  • Complying with increasingly stringent regulatory regimes (employment law, privacy, tax)
  • Growing expectations around transparency and accountability
  • Keeping abreast of and understanding the implications of new and emerging technologies
  • Responding to changing demographics of the paid workforce, volunteers and constituents
  • Strained resources (financial, time, talent)

Complexity often sneaks up on the NFP. The operating practices that served the organization well in its infancy and early growth stages can actually become barriers to success when the organization reaches a certain critical mass. For example, new programs are added, partnerships with other organizations are formed, the employee and volunteer base grows, new technologies deployed and governments introduce new regulations. Problems emerge as existing processes, technologies, organization structures and skill sets are no longer adequate for current needs. Responding to individual symptoms of the deteriorating support functions steals vital energy and focus away from the NFPs core mission.

How can you tell if your organization is suffering from growing pains? StraightUp developed a Simple to Complex Tool to help you recognize some of the common symptoms. Need help to get beyond simple and reach the performance level of a successful complex organization? StraightUp can help you get there. Contact us at or 905-466-7688 for a free consultation.