“Success is Stumbling from Failure to Failure with No Loss of Enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill
The nonprofit sector is made up of human beings, and like anyone else, we are prone to make mistakes. This can be especially true when we are trying new things or working on complex problems that have no clear-cut solution. When we fail—and it happens—it’s important for us to learn from those failures so that we can try again with greater success.
Failure Provides Valuable Feedback
There are a lot of reasons why nonprofits fail. Some, like the failure to solve a problem or make a difference, are not under our control. But many times it is because we, as leaders and staff, made mistakes that could have been avoided if we had known better. As we grow as an organization and learn from our mistakes, we can improve both the effectiveness of our work and our ability to attract funding from donors.
Failure, like success, can be a powerful motivator. When we fail at something important, it can be a powerful driver for change and innovation. It’s easy for organizations to get stuck in their ways, but when we experience failure (and realize that there are other ways of doing things), we often end up making better decisions in the long run.
Failure Builds Resilience
Resilience is the ability to bounce back from challenges and failures, learning from mistakes rather than dwelling on them. When we experience failure, it’s easy to feel discouraged or defeated—but that doesn’t have to be the case. By learning how to turn our experiences into opportunities for growth and change, we can move forward with more confidence than ever before.
Failure Promotes Transparency and Accountability
When we fail, it can be tempting to hide behind excuses or blame others for our mistakes. However, failure is a great opportunity to build more transparency and accountability into our work environments. When we’re able to share our failures with others and learn from them together, we become better problem-solvers and more collaborative team members—and that makes all the difference in the world.
Failure Leads to Better Decision-making
When we’re able to learn from our mistakes, we become better decision-makers. It can be tempting to think of failure as a negative thing, but it’s really just the first step in making progress. When we fail, we have an opportunity to learn more about ourselves and the world around us—and that knowledge is essential for making better choices in the future.
Failure can be a powerful tool for growth and success in nonprofit organizations. Rather than fearing failure, nonprofit organizations should embrace it as an opportunity to learn, grow, and improve.