This year started out on a bad note for me as I walked into my office on January 3rd to find my computers had been stolen over the weekend. As I’ve worked with my on-line backup provider to restore my data on an old laptop, I realized that this created an incredible opportunity for me to become more efficient. I know that it’s crazy to view such a loss as an opportunity (I’m still reeling from not being able to recover 100% of my data), but I have always been an optimist.
What does it mean to become more efficient and why should this be a new year’s resolution for all non-profits (and for profits, as well, for that matter)? To me, it means many things. First and foremost, I need to revisit how I store and retrieve documents securely, locally and on-line. I know that I need to take better advantage of the “cloud” so that I don’t have to worry again if my computer is stolen. Moreover, for a non-profit organization with active boards, more documents should be available in the cloud. To be green, we need to print and mail less, and utilize the resources available to securely manage our organizations. Do you have a concrete back-up plan? Do the appropriate individuals know how to access the back-up in case of an emergency? I implore all of you to make this a priority task for the new year.
Along the same lines, how many boards take advantage of the various board management tools available on-line? I know of at least four quality providers that provide tools to enable sharing among board members and staffof documents, agenda s, strategic plans, board manuals and more. These tools are key to making organizations both more efficient and greener. Why should we print board manuals for all of our new board members each year? If these tools are available on-line, each board member can read and print only what she needs. Moreover, these tools enable organizations to manage compliance and resolutions as well. As transparency becomes more of a reality, efficiency and use of such tools becomes more important.
On a grander scale, this is a good time to review your organization’s goals and fit within your designated community (local, regional, national, global). Much has been said about the duplicative functions of organizations and the need to streamline and even merge non-profit organizations. I believe that every organization owes a duty to its funders (not founders, although they may be the same) to ensure that their mission is relevant and unique within its community. Collaboration amongst non-profits serving the same community can help ensure that hard fought dollars are spent on programming, not on multiple staffs performing the same tasks.
These are just a few ideas that fit within the concept of efficiency. Please share others and lets continue to collaborate to keep our programs relevant. Let’s take ego out of the equation and do what’s right for our respective constituents.
On a side note, I mentioned above that I am an optimist. For those who don’t get it, I am reprinting The Optimist Creed, courtesy of Optimist International. If you can’t find something good in this, you’re not trying hard enough.
To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet.
To make all your friends feel that there is something in them.
To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.
To think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best.
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.
To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.
To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.