I love the 4th of July! The cookouts, the family gatherings, and, of course, the fireworks! This year I’ve been thinking about the whole idea of independence and how that relates to the world of nonprofits. Here are four ways to consider declaring your independence at your organization this Fourth of July:
1. Declare independence from relying too heavily on one funding source. Do you receive the majority of your support from one foundation? What if that foundation dissolved or decided to no longer support your particular mission? That happened at one organization where I worked. We received several major gifts from a local foundation and then they decided to dissolve. This would have been a disaster if we had become too dependent on their support. That’s why it’s always important to diversify your funding streams to include foundations, government support and private benefactors. That way if one falls through, it won’t jeopardize your entire mission.
2. Free yourself from the trap of one member of your team holding all the information. Do you have an administrative assistant who is the only one who knows how to make the daily or weekly deposit? Or one team member who codes all incoming checks? Or one member of your organization who knows all the passwords? That is why cross-training is key! It’s important to decentralize the information in your office. If something were to happen to that one person who is the knowledge-keeper in your organization, would that send the entire team into a tail spin? Save yourself from this possibility by ensuring that the important information is equally shared among all partners in your organization.
3. Free yourself from the chains of an outdated data system. Having an up-to-date, user-friendly, accurate database is of utmost importance for any non-profit organization. If you don’t have one, it’s time to take a hard look at making this a top priority. You should feel confident about all donor information in your records. Additionally, you should be able to run reports quickly, easily and efficiently at the stroke of a few keys. And if you store any credit card information, you should feel extremely confident about its safety.
4. Declare independence from succession uncertainty. Do you have a succession plan in place for the key leadership roles in your organization? With scrambling around to meet deadlines and bring in funding dollars, this important task is often brushed aside until it is too late. It is vital that every organization has a plan in place for replacing key leaders, especially Executive Directors. If you wait until you need it, it will create unnecessary chaos and uncertainty for your organization.
I hope this was helpful for you and your organization. From our family to yours, we at Armstrong McGuire wish you a very happy and healthy 4th of July celebration!