People are increasingly conscious of their energy use and consumption. We are conscious of the need to reduce energy, to conserve and use it more effectively and efficiently. Of course, in this, energy is the electricity, gas, or technology we use to power our homes and our workplaces, so we can maintain our lifestyle and our work.
However, energy is more than just the electricity or power it takes to generate the lighting, air conditioning and IT capability.. There is the human energy that is spent in achieving the mission and vision of the organisation.
In for-profit the expenditure of human energy can often be measured more easily because the bottom-line is the return the organisation is providing either to share-holders or to Directors and staff. Measuring the energy spent in achieving the mission and vision of a not-for-profit organisation, particularly a small to medium sized not-for-profit organisation is often more challenging.
Not-for-profit's are generally driven by meeting a societal or human need rather than pure profit. This is not to say not-for-profit organisations shouldn’t return a profit where they can. To be sustainable in the long term requires having a sufficient surplus at the end of each financial year that reserves can be created to support the organisation through periods where government funding may not be available
The danger is senior management can develop a scarcity mentality. This is a mind set whereby we see the need as greater than the resources available and so we believe there aren’t sufficient resources available to go around so we try to do everything in-house. We do the finances in house and manage the HR requirements in house. We look for cheap options to create and design websites in house and try to do our own marketing. The intention is admirable, the outcome often has long term negative consequences for the organisation.
Managing a not-for-profit organisation of any size in the 21st century is a complex and challenging journey. The need to stay current with changes to HR laws, superannuation requirements, best practice standards plus the myriads of reports required by funders require energy and clarity of thought.
Trying to do everything “in-house” may seem like the only option available but often it is a quick path to a short circuit, either your own through burning out or the organisations by missing some vital aspect you weren’t aware of.
Our advice, particularly to small and medium not-for-profit organisations is conserve your energy to achieve the mission and vision of your organisation. Where you can, outsource tasks, areas of responsibility that are not your expertise and which are taking up your time and energy.
Conserve your energy to achieve the organisations goals and allow external experts to assist you where possible. You do not need to be the superman or wonder woman of your organisation.