Very kindly, I have been invited to contribute to this site by the management of CoreStrategies for Nonprofits where I have agreed to be a part-time Senior Consultant. After 46 years of successful professional experience, 29 in the For-Profit (FP) world and 17 years in the Not-for-Profit (NFP) world, I retired in June 2009. In the last 26 years, I was at the Senior Level or the President & CEO of seven organizations; In those 26 years, we successfully turned around 20 (fifteen FP and five NFP) organizations, from “ready to close” to complete financial and programmatic stability.
There are many fundamental pillars on which the management, quality, and growth of an organization, regardless of the size and sector [NFP vs. FP] in which it operates that are essential for the organization’s success. In these challenging times, I urge that you consider changing or dismantling these key aspects of your organization only after careful consideration and forethought.
For-Profit and Not-for-Profit -- For me there never was a distinction between the NFP and FP worlds. In one, I operated a “Business for Shareholders”; in the other, I operated a “Business with a Heart” but I operated under the fundamental principle that I was running a business.
Fundamental Pillars - The keys that permitted us to succeed in each organization, regardless of the industry or country are simple. Each key has been carefully developed and tested over time.
1. Three to Five-Year Business Plan: Vision and Implementation – Ensure that a three to five-year plan is always in place, casting the vision and intentions out in front of us to guide our day-to-day work.
2. Philosophy and Methodology – Ensure the creation of a common organizational culture marked by:
• Commitment to the children and families that you serve and the staff that
• Vision of the future that you are creating, grounded in reality;
• Planning that creates a map for the realization of your vision;
• Team Work that is guided by partnership and accountability, and
• An Empowering Environment that recognizes the power of an environment to shape outcomes and empower people to succeed.
3. Finance and Accounting – Create a Finance and Accounting Department that will ensure that all aspects of the organization’s finances will comply with all applicable procedures and legal requirements, including: a balanced budget; 100% accuracy; and financial reports that are produced accurately and on time, and will be distributed to everyone who has accountability and interest for the financial results.
4. Human Resources – Create a Human Resources Department that supports the hiring of excellent people, ensures that the organization provides an environment in which motivated people can thrive, and vigilantly monitors your compliance with all HR-related legal, administrative and procedural requirements.
5. Programmatic Components: Fully Funded and at Capacity -- Ensure that all your programs are: Fully funded; At capacity or nearly so; Are excellent in both concept and delivery; Always seeking to take that excellence to new levels; Provided the resources – in terms of facilities, technology, staffing, etc. – that they need to succeed; and the most important part, Monitored for program results, and those results shared with funders and with the community, as appropriate, both to comply with grant and contract reporting requirements and to inspire continued funding of programs that make a difference.
6. Fund Development -- Create a Fund Development Department that prepares an Annual Fund Raising Plan; Make prospect identification, qualification and cultivation a regular part of the work; Generate partnership and broad-based participation (by staff members, Board of Directors, volunteers, etc.) in fund-development efforts; Establish and meet interim (pledge and revenue) targets; Be accountable by insuring that results are the Driver; and Thank Generosity -- Acknowledge donors and involve them with your organization, to foster long-term participation and support.
7. Information Technology – Ensure that the hardware and software required to operate the organization is in place; Ensure that it is maintained and upgraded as needed.
8. Internal Audit and Compliance – Engage this “Internal Conscience” that is accountable for ensuring that your organization develops and maintains internal controls to (a) foster accountability, (b) maximize effectiveness of operations, and (c) ensure that the organization complies with all applicable laws and ethical standards
9. Everyone Must Comply -- Ensure that the Board of Directors, the President and CEO, the Executive Management Team, and the Staff comply with all legal, administrative and ethical requirements for the integrity of the organization.
10. Facilities -- Take steps to ensure that all properties owned by the organization are used strategically, or to sell those properties and use the realized gain to further your mission.