The basics are just a starting point…

As one of the staff that answers calls and emails received on our HelpLine, I hear a lot of the same questions over and over. All too often, callers are looking for the same thing: a basic, “quick” answer. A sample or general policy that they can put in place at their organization. Or information about the “bare minimum” – what do they have to do to stay out of trouble? And I can understand why – sometimes it’s all about getting something in place, now, so that an organization can continue to focus on its mission.

The trouble starts, though, when the nonprofit stops with the basics. When leadership doesn’t make the time to really think about the general policy and decide how to make it truly fit with the organization’s structure, mission and vision. If we are convinced that each one of our organizations is unique – that there is something that makes us different from all of the other organizations working to solve the same problems – then we should be equally convinced that our policies and operational practices should be unique (or at least be a good fit!).

This doesn’t mean we all have to start from scratch; there’s no reason to re-invent the wheel. But we should make a commitment to revisit our policies, practices and operations with a critical eye from time to time; do they really help achieve our mission, or are they merely placeholders, taking up space (and energy) but not really moving us in the right direction?

Submitted by Mitzy Sharp Futro

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One Response

  1. Mitzy:
    You are correct. Many times nonprofits will call management support organizations when there is a critical issue that needs attention that minute. We are all happy to help in those instances.

    However, sometimes with a little more preparation and strategic planning, boards and nonprofits in general, can be certain that they are productive and are able to be proactive not reactive.

    There are many options available to nonprofits for assistance. Things like ResourceConnect can get you quick answers, but it is also a great tool to help make an organizational “to do” list of things that would help the nonprofit achieve key metrics while having ample time to focus on mission.

    Thanks for your comments about committing to “moving beyond the basics”. In this fast paced time with many walls seemingly closing in on nonprofits, it is important to set aside time for planning, review and mission focus.

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