The Seven Deadly Nonprofit Sins
As it is the darker time of the year, it’s time to review the other side of our work. Certainly the satisfactions and successes of our sector are what keep us motivated and eager to get to work each morning, and will inevitably always be the case.
Nevertheless, there are dysfunctions, negatives, hindrances of which we need to be aware and upon which we can continuously strive to improve.
Not included are those illegalities and ethical lapses for which society has prescribed remedies. Our seven “sins” are those we need to deal with for more functional and efficient operation of our sector.
Here’s our list of the Seven:
1. Top down management. Not using the full talents and ingenuity of those with whom we work penalizes our agencies and makes us much less than we can be. Training, delegation and listening are the way to success.
2. Dis-quality. “Good enough” no longer suffices. Continuing quality improvement and comparative measurement of outcomes are the way to salvation and sustainability.
3. Overreach, hubris, mission creep. Egos and ambition need to be put aside in favor of an empirical, realistic approach to do what we do best.
4. Rosy budgeting. Unrealistic budgeting, especially on estimated revenue, only complicates matters and doubles the cost later. Here and now budgeting saves us.
5. Board disengagement, over-engagement. The twin evils of micromanagement or inactivity always loom. The middle way takes leadership, recruiting and energy by the chair.
6. Over-reliance on any one source for revenue. Lack of many sources of income dooms the nonprofit to the fate of the single source. Diversification is key.
7. Founders’ super-syndrome. The notion that only founders can run their group gets complicated when they try to take their agency down with them. Succession planning helps.
What are your Seven?