Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Visualising Complicated Decisions

Nonprofits are always hungry for ways to generate interest and funds. This often results in many well-intentioned ideas that may not pan out to actually be profitable. This drawing helps me clarify how we at our theatre company should think about whether or not to throw an event. We are unique in that we have this really cool old theatre building to work out of, so there are no end of ideas. But here I've shown that there is a water line that we must stay above for an event to be worth it.

A nonprofit generally wants two things: to reach people, and to bring in money. So I put those above the water line, and then put the things that erode those two things below the water as if they are pulling down. The objective of the game is never to end up underwater.

There are many many factors at work here, and for a particular event different ones will come to the fore. But it's all about the difference between the pluses and minuses - do you end up above water or not? Are there flotation devices that will help you, like getting volunteers or partnering with another organization? Are you sinking yourself by not allowing enough lead time or putting all the responsibility on only one or two people and burning them out?

This came out of a discussion at a board meeting - I knew there were a lot of things flying around the room, and we were bouncing from a time discussion to a technical discussion to a money discussion - this helped me to really get it all down in one place and have a tool to evaluate events with going forward.

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