Many people come to help small, non-profit organizations in a variety of roles. Companies ranging from semi-organized children’s sports teams, to local chapters faggreinafélög, to well-established charitable service. Scope and management vary as well, from the seat-of-the-pants, one or two people inadvertently doing most of the work, professionally managed by paid staff, and everything in between. Here are some tips to help you and your business become more efficient and effective.
Many people are confused about the concept of a non-profit organization. The terms Non-profit, not-for-profit or tax-exempt, all mean the same thing and is simply a special type of entities. Organization recognized by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as a non-profit or taxable business is treated differently than a regular for-profit company for tax purposes. Marking a non-profit usually do not pay taxes. Some of the tax issues can be complex, so if you have any questions or doubts, contact your accounting professional do not know the profit tax. Generally, though, if you’re a small organization, have received non-profit status from the IRS (you have to apply it), and follow defined your role, you’re fine.
The important thing to remember is that the non-profit does not mean for-loss. You still have to make money. The only real difference between a non-profit and for-profit company is there any extra money goes. For any organization to be viable, you need to have more money coming in than you have going out. What happens to the excess between what comes in and what goes out is what makes the difference between a non-profit and for-profit company. In a non-profit, the excess stays in the organization to help it achieve its mission. The for-profit business, excess (profit) is distributed to the owners of the company. It’s that simple.
So remember, you still have to make money. You will have more money coming in than you have going out. You just use all the money to help the agency do what it was set up to do.
One of the most helpful and least used tools for any organization is on the way. Instead of just starting to do things, sit down first and plan what you are going to do. Then a stable, sit down for regular meetings planning. The benefits are enormous.
The level of detail of your programs and time spent planning, depending on the size of the company and what it is you do. If you are helping your child team sport, and you’re doing most of the work yourself, you might have just a short to-do list that you put together in 15 minutes. More likely, though, you need to sit down with other board members or volunteers for an hour or two, in several meetings to develop a plan with enough detail that will give you clear direction and help you lead the organization.
When planning, always start with the goal in mind. Set goals. Identify specific goals you want to reach. Again, depending on the size and nature of your business, planning time frame will vary. If you are just getting started with planning, time horizon will be shorter. As you become more experienced with the organization, you can extend the time horizon a little further. For the sports team of the child, the plan could only reach the length of the season, maybe even just three or four months. Most organizations, however, will want to plan two or three years. More than that, you’re usually talking about a larger, well-established and complex organizations.
So it is these programs that you are doing? It’s going to be two parts to the program; goals you want to achieve, and how you are going to achieve them. If your working on a two-year program, the goal will define where you want to be, what you want to be doing, after two years. Suppose you are a service type of organization that helps homeless people. The goal might be two years from now you’re going to be providing two meals a day to 500 persons per day, up from one meal a day in 100 individuals. Maybe you are Rugby Club, and goals could be in two years you’re going to have a paid coach on the staff, two full sets of teams owned game Jersey, or money to start building their own clubhouse website. OK, that might be a stretch for most clubs, but you get the idea.
When you set these goals, you need to know how you are going to achieve them. If you are going to increase from one meal a day to two meals a day, or leave No team owned game Jersey to two sets, how are you going to do it? What are intermediate steps? Who is responsible for doing what? If you are going to provide more meals, you need more food. You may need a larger or better equipped facilities. You may need more volunteers. If you decide you need 20 volunteers a day, but now only 5, you need to decide how you will get more volunteers. Maybe you are advertising more, apply for more grants, or hire a volunteer coordinator. Whatever steps are to achieve the goals, write them down so everyone knows what to do and who is responsible for doing it.
When you plan, you need to track your progress against the plan. You do not want to wait until the end of the time period of the plan to see if you achieved the goals you were aiming for. You want to monitor your progress along the way, so if things are not going as expected, you can make adjustments to get back on track. Or, if it is going as planned, you can focus on other areas that need more attention, and not waste time on things that are working well.
Another advantage of planning is that you have something to evaluate new or unexpected chance against, rather than just trying to figure out that they are their own if they are a good idea or something you should pursue. Something that sounds like a good idea might not be something you want to pursue when it is measured against the plan. Of course, if it is a good idea, and has been properly identified and assessed, you can change your plans. It is always better to organize and change the plan when appropriate, but not to plan at all. Planning helps you focus, and that is what you need.
Board, or those who are going to drive, guide, and direct organization, is always fun and interesting content. Except for the smallest agencies, you should have a public board whose job it is to guide and set the direction of the Agency. Many times, these are the same people who do all the work, but not always. Again, depending on the size and nature of your business.
The big question is who should be on the table. This can be difficult because the people, or the type of people who should be on the table are not necessarily people who actually will be on the table, for various reasons. Many times it is difficult, if not impossible, to actually attract the people you want on the table. One reason is that the people who make the best board members are already on other boards, they just have so much time. Also, many people may not know about the organization, and many are just not interested in what the organization does. So, what to do?
I always like to start by stating what I want. Identify the people or types of people you want on the table. If you do not start with what you want, you will never get them. You may have to take what you can get, but at least to find what you want. If you identify the type of people you want, you can then target them and work to get them to help you. If you do not, you’ll always be stuck with whatever comes your way. Identify the skills and qualities ideal board devices. Do you have specific skill sets, individuals with a lot of contacts in the community, or perhaps wealthy individuals who want to contribute to your cause? Whatever you need or want, be specific. You can even identify specific people you want on board.
Why would anyone want to be on board? It is often thankless and time consuming job, so you have to really market it. Do not lie or overly sugar coat it, but noted the benefits of being on board and tell people why you want them to help you. If you are passionate about your business, potential members will pick up on it and it could be incentive enough to get them to help you. Other benefits include making new contacts, help good causes, and the fact that it looks good on their resume. Of course, people who do not have these benefits will be difficult to sell, but a lot of times people will help just because you ask them. You’d be surprised how often people are just waiting to be asked.
One thing you absolutely have to do is define the roles and responsibilities of board members and communicate them to your board. Even if they are pretty simple, and it seems obvious, it is critical to your success. Everyone needs to know why they are on the table and what they should do. You can not afford to have a dead weight on the board. Be strong and keep their members to negotiate their responsibilities.
You’re going to have a meeting, probably different species. The board will have a board, and you may have staff meetings, meetings of volunteers general members meeting, or any other type of meeting. Many people dread meetings, and for good reason. Poorly run meetings not only not good, they can do damage. So, run good meetings.
Always, always, always, have a defined agenda. Distribute the agenda before the meeting so everyone knows what is going to discuss. Stick to the agenda. Set defined session length, and allocate time to each agenda item. Stand by that date.
Along with the program, define the desired results of the meeting, which means identifying what will be accomplished at the meeting. Simple is expected to discuss each agenda item and vote on all items that need to be selected. Depending on the reason for the meeting and the agenda item in question, you can have different expectations of what is to be accomplished.
Board are inherently different than most other types of meetings. The Board sets high-level policy and strategy, so that the Board of Directors are similarly high. Most of the work of the Board is made outside board. The board meetings are usually pretty simple. Information and results of external operations is presented in the abstract, final discussions on important issues are made, and things are voted on. There should be some surprises on board. Most of the information should have already been distributed, analyzed, and discussed. Items clarified, discussions are best done face to face are made and votes are held. If you do most of your work in the board itself, you can immediately become more effective as an organization by making the changes described above.
For most small businesses do not profit, volunteers are the backbone that allows you to continue operations. Without quality volunteer, you will not be the organization for very long. At least you will not be able to achieve what you set out to do. So be sure to take care of your volunteers.
All volunteers should have a defined role, no matter how simple task. Be sure to train all volunteers, no matter how simple task. Training should include specific tasks volunteers, businesses, and mission, philosophy and direction of the organization. Again, no matter how simple tasks, projects and policies.
Always assign tasks, rather than just let volunteers do what they think is best. You should be flexible, of course, but in order to keep the organization forward in the direction that is defined by the board, volunteers should be assigned tasks that support the defined objectives.
recognize and reward your volunteers. Some companies are very good at this, but others take their volunteers for granted and do not offer the necessary recognition and rewards. This is usually not by design, just by negligence. No matter how busy you are, take the time to praise the volunteers for all the work they are doing.
not overwhelm volunteer. Some people can not say no. Do not let them take on more work than they should. Some are driven to help, and are almost impossible to hold back. Keep them back. They’ll be more valuable for you in the long term, and their health, mental and physical, is of paramount importance.
Make new volunteers welcome. Again, some organizations are good at this, while others since they volunteered they figure out what’s going on and find his way. This is not true. Every new volunteer should formally welcome, said that they are appreciated, and said where they fit with the organization. The training mentioned above should be followed.
Accounting and registration
Keep records. Keep good records. Protect yourself, protect your board members, volunteers, clients, members and customers, and protect your business. Do not rely on your or someone else, memory. Have proof of what you have done. This is especially important with everything having to do with money. As with everything else, the registration system depends on the size and complexity of the business. You may only laptop, receipt books and bank statements, or you may need a full-blown management system that includes accounting and financial information, sales and customer relations system and the production, storage, and file systems. Use what is right for you.
If necessary, hire people like any other business. Some of the smallest organizations employ part-time administrative help. In today’s modern world, you might even feel right at actual control help.
Set up monitoring. This is another area where it is particularly important for everything having to do with money. Set up control means to set the system to prevent or find any wrongdoing or impropriety. For example, if your organization has a defense, you want to limit the number of people who have access to and control who can write checks. It is a good idea to have different people who control the defense and have the authority to sign checks. Or, you might want to send the bank account statement, other than the person who writes the checks or make deposits. Other controls are separate duties or have one view the results of other people. Basically, you want to remove the temptation and make it difficult for them to do anything inappropriate.
Even if you set up good controls, you should regularly audits and check up on it. Not only does this help prevent anything nefarious happens, it helps to keep the organization on track and moving in the direction you want to go.
Go out and do good things. Put a little effort into planning and infrastructure company and you will reap the rewards in the long run. Keep the level of effort and complexity to the appropriate agency, and try to keep sight of when it’s time to add more formality to your systems. Best of luck to you and your business.