Category

Corporate Culture

What Distinguishes High Impact Nonprofits? Experts Weigh In

By | Corporate Culture, Nonprofit | No Comments

What distinguishes high impact nonprofits from average ones? The Stanford Leadership Study, spearheaded by researchers Bill Meehan and Kim Jonker, identify seven factors which they call the “engine of impact.”

These seven factors include:

  1. Mission
  2. Strategy
  3. Impact evaluation
  4. Insight and courage
  5. Organization and talent
  6. Funding
  7. Board governance

There is no one critical factor, but rather all seven must work together to propel the nonprofit forward – hence the term “engine of impact.” With a combination of all seven factors working in concert, nonprofits can serve more people and achieve their mission on a grand scale.

Only a Handful Meet the Criteria for High Impact Nonprofits

There’s good news and bad news when it comes to the engine of impact. The bad news is that only about 20% of all nonprofits believe they meet the criteria of a high impact nonprofit. The good news? Among the remaining 80% who fail to meet the criteria of high impact nonprofits, there’s plenty of room for growth, and many are well on their way to achieving it.

One core concept the study posits is  the importance of external audits or evaluations. Among the nonprofits surveyed, only about 40%  utilize external evaluations. .

What Is the Impact Engine?

These seven factors encompass many overarching concepts that set strong nonprofits apart from struggling ones. Mission and vision, for example, provide leadership and guidance not just at the top, but to all who work at the nonprofit. With a strong mission and vision statement, nonprofits can guide, organize, and adjust their work to fulfill the mission and ensure that all work they undertake supports their mission-driven environment.
Funding is another example of a broad concept that has specific, measurable impacts. Funding, talent organization and board governance  comprise the fuel that keeps the engine of impact turning. Without enough fuel, a car sputters and stops. So too, a nonprofit without adequate funding, poor funding management, and poor governance and organization cannot achieve success as a strong nonprofit.

What Are Nonprofits Doing Right?

Among the nonprofits surveyed during the study, several key findings emerged.

  • 56% of the nonprofits in the study had Board Governance in place, with Funding close behind at 52%.
  • 50% of nonprofits had systems in place to evaluate their impact, which is more positive news. Without such an evaluation, it is difficult to assess areas of focus for the future.

Where did nonprofits fall short?

  • Just 35% had a stated strategy in place
  • 18% lacked a clear Mission statement
  • 17% lacked insight and courage, two elements that enabled nonprofits to take a long, hard look at their work, evaluate its success or failures, and make improvements for the future.

How Does Your Organization Measure Up?

Before you decide where your organization fits in this evaluation, the study’s authors have put together a free online quiz to help you assess your nonprofit. Take the quiz, then return to the Welter Consulting website for more information and articles to help you build your nonprofit impact engine.

Take the Next Step with Welter Consulting

After completing the nonprofit impact engine survey, how does your organization measure up?

Most organizations will find one or more areas in which they could improve. That’s nothing to panic about. Instead, it provides ample opportunities for change and growth.

Once you’ve identified key areas with room for improvement, it’s time to get to work. If you’re unsure where to start, contact Welter Consulting. Welter Consulting bridges people and technology together for effective solutions for nonprofit organizations. We offer software and services that can help you with your accounting needs. Please contact Welter Consulting at 206-605-3113 for more information.

Feeling – and Dealing – with Being Overwhelmed

By | Abila, Accounting, Accounting Software, Budget, Cloud, Corporate Culture, Fiscal, MIP Fund Accounting, Nonprofit, Professional Development, Technology | No Comments

It’s not confined to tax season. A look at why you’re feeling overwhelmed, and how to deal with it.

In the book “Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time”, authors Jeff and J.J. Sutherland have an interesting chart on page 91. In this chart, they cite statistics that indicate that as one’s attention is divided, productivity decreases. Working on two projects at once means a 20% loss in productivity due to switching gears; three projects at once, and you lose about 40% due to context switching.

Accountants and financial managers at nonprofits aren’t immune to this loss, due to context switching. In fact, we’re probably more vulnerable to it due to the focused nature of our work. Dealing with financial issues, accounting questions, and understanding complex financial information requires quiet, focused time. The barrage of instant messenger apps, phone calls, emails, texts and myriad information streams in today’s connected world increases the loss due to context switching. Multi-tasking for greater productivity is a myth.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’re not alone. Nearly all professionals are feeling overwhelmed these days. It’s as if the crunch before tax season never ends. Researchers point to the common culprits – instant messengers, instant news, instant everything – as a big part of the problem. The human brain isn’t wired to deal with this level of intensity, and we haven’t had time to adapt to the rapid pace of change that technology has wrought in our personal and business lives.

Although we cannot fully shut the world out and switch off the phones, there are ways to improve productivity. These include avoiding context or task switching, single-tasking instead of multi-tasking, and establishing boundaries around office times.

Single-Tasking for Greater Productivity

Multi-tasking does not improve productivity. Instead, it diminishes productivity because the mind needs time to acclimate to the second task. As we focus on one task, our attention is fixed on that task; switching to a second task takes brain power to establish focus, change direction, and process new information.

Don’t buy into the myth of multi-tasking. Instead, turn off the music or the television while you work. Shut the door to your office. Switch off the instant messages and turn your cell phone to mute while you work on a project. Allow yourself the space to focus, rather than trying to cram as many tasks as you can into the same amount of time.

Set Office Rules

Another tip to improve productivity and avoid feeling overwhelmed is to set some basic ground rules around your time in the office. While many managers prefer an ‘open door’ policy and make themselves available to their staff at any time, you may need to establish some basic policies around availability.

Some managers have ‘office hours’ when they leave their door open as a clear signal to their teams that they can drop in and ask any questions they wish. Others block out time on their calendar for quiet, focused work. Either method works fine. The point is to ensure that you have adequate quiet time for focused work and additional time blocked out for your teams.

Switch Off the Mobile Phone

 Cellphones are a great convenience, but their buzzing, shrilling, vibrating presence has ruined many a meeting, family dinner, or quiet time. Shut off the mobile phone when you aren’t at work or when you need some space. Texts are rarely as urgent as we make them out to be, and your brain needs a break from the constant stream of messages and information it’s trying to process.

Give Yourself Permission to Rest

 Lastly, give yourself permission to rest on the weekends, vacations and holidays. When you’re behind schedule on projects, it is tempting to trying to bring work home or devote a few extra hours in the evening to finishing up a project. Occasionally burning the midnight oil doesn’t hurt  but making it a habit can cut into your overall productivity. Ensuring balance in all things takes time, practice and effort, but it helps your overall productivity.

Everyone feels overwhelmed at times by work. If it becomes chronic, however, it’s time to take steps to safeguard your time. Burnout happens in all professions, including accounting and finance, nonprofit and for-profit companies.

 

Welter Consulting

Welter Consulting bridges people and technology together for effective solutions for nonprofit organizations. We offer software and services that can help you with your accounting needs. Please contact Welter Consulting at 206-605-3113 for more information.


 

How to Improve Employee Retention by Improving Corporate Culture

By | Abila, Accounting, Corporate Culture, HR, MIP Fund Accounting, Nonprofit | No Comments

We’ve all seen the statistics: it costs several thousand dollars, and several weeks or months of lost productivity to fill vacancies. Nonprofits face additional employee retention challenges in a strong economy with low unemployment. Retaining skilled employees becomes more challenging in a strong, robust economy.

There is no one size fits all program you can put into place to improve retention. Instead, consider building a sustainable corporate culture that encourages people to feel loyal to your organization.

What Is Corporate Culture?

Corporate culture is the overall tone, mood, feeling and method of work that occurs within an organization. While difficult to define, it is easy to spot. A productive, positive corporate culture leads to loyalty, low turnover, and high productivity. A negative corporate culture leads to disgruntled employees, poor productivity, high turnover, and myriad other problems.

 

Improving Corporate Culture

The Harvard Business Review lists several methods to improve corporate culture.

 

  1. Clarify the organization’s vision. Nonprofits who successfully retain employees have a clearly defined vision for their organization. Pathway to Stop Diabetes, an initiative of the American Diabetes Association, has a clearly defined mission: “Our visionis simple yet revolutionary: find a new generation of brilliant scientists at the peak of their creativity, then provide them with the freedom, autonomy, and financial and professional resources to set them on the road to breakthrough discoveries.” A defined vision helps unite and clarify the work of everyone at a nonprofit, enhances company culture and is a central point around which all conversations can revolve  .
  2. Hire the right people. We know, it’s easier said than done, but hiring people who believe wholeheartedly in the vision is an important step toward building organizational culture and reducing turnover. Look for people with a demonstrated work history aligned with your mission. People’s actions speak louder than words when it comes to demonstrating their values, and their work history is the record of how they implement those values in their careers.
  3. Develop guiding principles. Guiding principles are the shared statements that reflect how to implement the mission and vision of an organization. They also document how you expect employees to behave, treat one another, and do their work. Guiding principles should include the ideas and concepts you would like to inculcate throughout the organization. A corporate culture that accepts and honors diversity, for example, might have as its guiding principle tolerance for all races, creeds, religions and sexual preferences; a corporate culture that values innovation might have as a guiding principle the embracing of creativity and the time needed to generate creative ideas.
  4. Build a compelling narrative. Narratives are stories and every nonprofit have its own unique story. Marley’s Mutts, a nonprofit animal rescue in Bakersfield, California, builds on the narrative of the founder’s battle with end stage liver disease and the role that Marley, his dog, had in helping him overcome hopelessness. That bond between dogs and people is what inspires all of Marley’s Mutts actions and programs including their prison outreach, special needs children’s outreach, and rescuing so-called unadoptable dogs from shelters around the world.
  5. Promote connections. People are less inclined to leave an organization if they feel strong connections to it and to others who work there. Millennials are often cited as lacking loyalty, but in fact, they simply have a low tolerance for boredom and the lack of interest in their work. Build connections to the organization through promoting challenging projects, increasing responsibility, and improving chances for advancement.

 

Building a strong corporate culture to improve employee retention takes time and effort. Make it a concerted effort among your leadership team, human resources, and managers to enact positive changes that build culture and improve loyalty.

 

Welter Consulting

Welter Consulting is a technology firm empowering nonprofit and government organizations with effective software, consulting & training that can help you with your accounting needs. We are committed to finding the most affordable technology, the most powerful solution, and providing expert support. By leveraging technology and superior reporting, our team helps to free more of your time to devote to the important work of your mission. We bridge people and technology together for effective solutions for nonprofit organizations. We are passionate professionals who choose to work in the nonprofit sector for the same reason you do – helping others. Please contact Welter Consulting at 206-605-3113 for more information.