They aren’t glamorous, exciting or even all that interesting most of the time. They can be frustrating, mundane and usually hide in the background not seen by many…until they are broken, disjointed and creating problems. These are not front-line aspects of any non-profit and can be easily dismissed for what seem like higher priorities. However, if ignored, they can stunt the potential of even the most visionary non-profit leader, or worse, completely derail the vision.
So, what am I referring to? I’m talking about the behind-the-scenes processes such as accounting, budgeting, hiring practices, HR policies, communication, and planning. Financial mismanagement or fraud, hiring people who aren’t qualified (or keeping on those who aren’t performing), poor communication, and a lack of planning can all have serious consequences. And the sad truth is they are usually preventable. While these may not seem mission-critical, the following items are examples of tools used to protect and advance an organization’s vision:
- Documented and disciplined financial controls – These protect your team from even the appearance of wrongdoing, your organization from theft, and your reputation with donors. This includes, but is not limited to, multiple people counting an offering, making sure the person signing checks isn’t the same one who approved the invoice, monthly review of financial reports and bank statements, etc.
- HR Practices – Employee handbooks, detailed hiring processes, job descriptions, employee development plans and training cultivate your team members, provide clear guidelines and protect your organization.
- Communication – A central calendar, regular staff meetings, status updates and coordination across departments keep everyone informed and enable them to contribute their best efforts.
- Planning – Detailed plans that are developed well in advance of complex events or projects ensure that key items aren’t missed, prevents last minute chaos, reduces the likelihood of going over budget, reduces the number of hours needed to work (due to rework or last minute changes) and keeps you from exhausting your staff and volunteers.
You seek to carry out the vision of your organization with excellence. That shows in the care you take to keep your facilities looking professional, your marketing materials sharp and modern, and your vision communicated. These are all important, however, you risk jeopardizing the vision by ignoring what goes on behind the scenes.
I love the vision and impact that non-profits have on our communities and it breaks my heart to see that impact stifled due to back-office functions that aren’t running efficiently to properly support the organization. I can’t stand seeing volunteers drop out, staff members exhausted or leaders frustrated when they could all be working together to see the vision realized. This stuff isn’t that complicated but it does require careful thought, planning and disciplined execution to make them run efficiently and effectively. Don’t let back-office issues stunt your organization’s growth or impact.
As always, I’m here to help you get control over any of the areas listed above. However, whether I have the honor of serving your organization or not, please take the step to get assistance from qualified professionals. Your vision is too important to take chances.