Issue No. 257 of Your Weekly Staff Meeting introduces a brilliant matrix on nonprofit sustainability—and I predict you will use it at your next staff or board meeting. Plus, this reminder: check out my Management Buckets website with dozens of resources and downloadable worksheets for your staff meetings.
Money Trees, Stars, Hearts and Stop Signs
I was privileged to serve 30 years as a nonprofit CEO. Over those years, I’ve collected my favorite one-liners on nonprofit sustainability:
--One of my favorite profs, especially gifted in one-liners (and magic tricks), often chuckled, “We’re nonprofit, but we didn’t plan it that way.”
--“Nonprofit is a tax designation, not a management philosophy.”
--I’ve listened to thousands of staff members whine: “Yeah, but are we a ministry or a business?” (Their answer is in their question and the way they intone that nasty B-word.)
My response: that’s the wrong question. Scripture doesn’t create the negative dichotomy between business and ministry. The better question is: “Whatever tax code we use to serve others, will we be sustainable and God-honoring over the long-term?”
--Jesus taught us in Luke 14:28-30, “Is there anyone here who, planning to build a new house, doesn’t first sit down and figure the cost so you’ll know if you can complete it? If you only get the foundation laid and then run out of money, you’re going to look pretty foolish. Everyone passing by will poke fun at you: ‘He started something he couldn’t finish.’” (The Message)
So with that introduction, it brings us today to a resource-rich book, Nonprofit Sustainability: Making Strategic Decisions for Financial Viability. The three co-authors deliver the perfect PowerPoint slide on page 25—and then build their case across all 173 pages. It’s part Nonprofit 101 and part Harvard Business School.
Getting to nonprofit sustainability involves three steps:
--The Matrix Map Analysis
--The Sustainable Nonprofit Business Model
Stars: High Mission Impact, High Profitability
Hearts: High Mission Impact, Low Profitability
Money Tree: Low Mission Impact, High Profitability
Stop Sign: Low Mission Impact, Low Profitability
Pop Quiz! Assemble your team and draw the Dual Bottom Line Matrix Map on your flipchart or whiteboard—and then plot every program, service and product you provide into one of the four quadrants.
Stars: If you have an abundance of stars, way to go!
Hearts: Here you’re leading with your heart—and that may be appropriate—but if you’re too heavy here, you’ll need more oomph in the Money Tree quadrant.
Money Tree: If you have some “cash cows” (to mix metaphors), terrific. Maybe you can make adjustments and increase mission impact.
Stop Sign: This is a no-brainer. Fix these programs or stop doing them.
As I often prod you, delegate your reading. Several people on your staff and your board must read this book—and review it at your next staff or board meeting. It will be on my year-end Top-10 list.
To order this book from Amazon, click on the graphic below for Nonprofit Sustainability: Making Strategic Decisions for Financial Viability, by Jeanne Bell, Jan Masaoka and Steve Zimmerman.
Your Weekly Staff Meeting Questions:
1) Many organizations put inappropriate time and budget into lagging programs and services, rather than using the authors’ “invest and grow” strategy for “Stars.” Are we investing and growing in our Stars—or trying to resuscitate one or more dead horses?
2) When is the last time we held up a “Stop Sign” to a program, product or service? If it were up to you, what would we stop doing immediately—and cut our mounting losses? (Resource: share the “Dismount” worksheet from my Results Bucket webpage: “Dakota tribal wisdom says that when you discover you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.”)
Start Your Don’t-Do List - Insights from Mastering the Management Buckets: 20 Critical Competencies for Leading Your Business or Nonprofit
One of the big ideas in Chapter 16 (The Delegation Bucket) in my book, Mastering the Management Buckets, is to start your Don’t-Do List.
The first president of the United States Steel Corporation was Charles Schwab (not the stock guy). He asked a consultant, Ivy Lee, for help on becoming a more effective executive. “Show me a way to get more things done. If it works, I’ll pay anything within reason.”
Lee introduced Schwab to the To-Do list and suggested that Schwab limit each day’s list to no more than six tasks. He should start with the most important task and then not go to the second priority until the first one is done.
This remarkably simple—almost obvious—management tool revolutionized Schwab’s work. So he sent Lee a check for $10,000.
I think the Don't-Do List will prove to be just as revolutionary. It's very simple: For 90 days, keep a list on your desk or computer of what you will STOP doing. (My friend Tony Danhelka calls this "selective neglect.") You must rigorously prune your To-Do List every day, every week and every month. You can't keep up—the conveyor belt is hurling work at you faster than the famous chocolate factory scene on I Love Lucy.
For help, click here to download the template, "My Don't-Do List," from the Delegation Bucket webpage.
MORE RESOURCES. Read my weekly blog for ECFA, Governance of Christ-centered Organizations. And join me on Oct. 25, 2012, for a CLA webcast, with Dan Bolin, on "7 Deadly Sins of Boards."