Excerpt on Avoid Chaos! on Programming. The Internal War


Here's a chapter from my new ebook, Avoid Chaos! A Step by Step Guide for Executive Directors in Not-For-Profit Organizations. This chapter discusses programming choices that organizations have to make .


Back in the chapter on Employees, I highlighted that many people that work in Not-For-Profit (NFP) are very passionate individuals, and they put that passion towards their jobs.  This should be encouraged, but it can have some interesting side effects.


Assuming your NFP offers a variety of services to customers, there will need to be a distribution of funds, to offer those services or programs.  Each department in your organization will want to offer the best to their respective customer base (rightfully so), but there's only so much funding to go around.


Back to the passionate employees for a moment.  Often passion has an interesting side effect:  wanting to save the world by offering a million different ideas to do just that.  Focus is not a strong point that I've encountered in the NFP sector, because organizations often are in constant "What can we do to help?" mode.  


This lack of focus is another frustrating component of being a leader in the NFP world.  So many good ideas, and they want to try them all. 


Jack-of-all-trades, master of none. 


You will have frustrated employees abound, if you don't control what the organization does.  You'll have employees upset that you don't want to roll out all of these "good ideas", and you'll have people upset because you're spending money on something besides their project.  It's a lose-lose situation.


When trying to sort out what should be done by your organization, to "make a difference", I suggest returning to that dusty document called the Mission Statement.  It might be referred to as the Mission, Vision, and Values of the organization.  Your website likely has it there, if you don't know where the Word document is saved. 


Look to the Mission of the organization as a guiding light on what you should be doing, and more importantly, what you should NOT be doing.  Depending on the size of your team, your organization may only be able to offer a few programs.  Focus on doing them really well, and better than others.  If someone is offering the same program/class/workshop in your area, do NOT offer it where you are.  Partner up.


I know. I know.  I told you the pitfalls in working with community partners in chapter 5.  I still believe in those challenges, as much as I believe in avoiding a dozen organizations that are closely located, to offer the same damn thing.  As Steve Jobs said, "Be Different."


To be an effective leader, you should know what the other "like-minded" organizations in your area are doing, so you can leverage what your organization is doing.  The idea here is to build up your community.  If 10 organizations are offering the same type of program/service, then there is going to be a need for other things, which are not being met, because you all are doing the same thing.  


Know your team.  Find their strengths.  Award them by letting them focus on those areas, which will make your organization shine.