As the world around us constantly changes, nonprofits cannot afford to stagnate by staying in their comfort zone. In the new paradigm of relentless change, if a charity is not adapting, it will soon wither away, programmatically and financially. Relentlessly pursuing innovation and relevancy is the best way to survive in an ever-changing world.

It’s not always easy to adapt to a changing environment, and it’s even more difficult to anticipate upcoming changes that may impact your work in the future. However, your organization shouldn’t settle for what works now – instead, even if what you’re doing works right now, you need to become equipped to deal with future challenges:

In the nonprofit sector, innovation to meet changing needs or to communicate new approaches to donors is neither easy nor common. Nonprofits are cause driven, not market driven. Cause – or the mission – drives the organization. Change has to fit within cause, and cause is not a technology or a package or a brand  –  rather, cause is a passion. Adapting innovation to passion is a delicate matter, which takes time, vision, and eloquence. And where organizations are stable and productive relative to their cause, there is precious little urgency in doing so.

How do you encourage innovation in your organization?

Encourage creativity

Foster an environment where your employees don’t simply do things because “that’s how we’ve always done it,” but instead, cultivate a culture that encourages people to introduce new ideas, no matter how crazy they are. Everyone at your organization should feel like there is someone to listen and thoughtfully evaluate their original ideas without being discouraged.

Have brainstorming sessions

Innovation isn’t always spontaneous inspiration – more often, it is planned improvement. When you start a fundraising campaign, even if it’s a program you do every year, think before you begin. Consider problems you’ve had in the past and create solutions to solve them. Look for small ways that you can make the program more fun or different to generate new interest. Break the mold and experiment with new methods.

Ask for feedback

After a project, talk to your donors, employees and other stakeholders. Hear what they have to say. Monitor your social media accounts and pay close attention to both positive and negative feedback. Even what appears to be an insignificant comment may turn out to be an eye-opening insight. Break down how the process went and identify the problem areas that you can learn from. Two-way communication is key.

Innovation doesn’t always mean a dramatic overhaul of the system. In fact, the best innovation consists simply of being open to new ideas and not being content with the status quo. As long as your organization is flexible and self-evaluating, you will be able to adapt and succeed in the changing world around you.