You just call on me brother, when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you’ll understand
We all need somebody to lean on
Lean on me, when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on
— Bill Withers (Lean on Me)
In our first blog of this series, we shared some thoughts on the importance of kindness to others—and yourselves—during these trying times. Today we will delve a little more into looking at and thinking about the big picture of how this pandemic is affecting your nonprofit and what you can do about it.
What can I do for my nonprofit now?
Regardless of position or what role you play, it is always important to desire to understand more about the positions you don’t play.
In the simplest of terms, nonprofits can be divided into three categories:
1. Program or mission work: those who spend resources wisely and effectively.
2. Development or Fundraising: those who raise resources efficiently.
3. Administration or bean counting: those who count and report resources.
Those of us who have devoted much of our careers to working for nonprofits know how critical each role is and how every employee’s job is interdependent on others. Above all, we are all working toward a common goal: furthering our mission.
We are all familiar with the idea that a nonprofit’s greatest asset is its people. If this is true, then understanding the roles that Fundraising and Program play is fundamental to the Administration function.
What does all this mean?
In a world that tends to build silos in organizations, everyone can play a vital role to breaking them down so your nonprofit’s greatest asset—its people—may work more effectively together.
How can this be accomplished and why is it important now?
These days spent in quarantine are a perfect time to communicate with your staff or coworkers and let them know how much you believe in them. You might ask how you might help them perform their jobs better. Take the proactive stance of communicating by phone, FaceTime, Zoom, email or text. Really listen to what they have to say.
Over the years, I have discovered that the desire to better understand the Development staff and their frustrations has naturally led to better relationships, which has led to Development wanting to understand the budget and accounting rules of the organization (co-author Bob’s area of expertise). When Program, Development and Administration strengthened our relationships, silos started to disappear, and the executive team was able to focus more on our long-term vision, and everyone benefitted.
Your final takeaway and a recommendation:
1. Take time now to understand others in your organization because this is the perfect time to do just that. Lean on each other. Build each other up. Break down those silos.
2. If you have run out of shows to watch or stream, I highly recommend The Biggest Little Farm (Hulu). In watching it you may discover how your organization might be in better sync through working together. Enjoy!
By Bob Mims, Sharpe Group CFO, and Tom Grimm, Sharpe Group Senior Consultant
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