Saturday, 08 August 2015 11:48

Four questions all social sector leaders should ask themselves. Featured

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1. When can I quit my job?

Most client-serving non-profits should be trying to do themselves out of a job.  If your mission is to end-world-hunger or stop human trafficking—ask yourself honestly if your strategies will ever get you there. It may be that having such a lofty mission, while motivating, is making it difficult to prioritize your activities. The nonprofits and governments who make the most impact progress use smaller; more manageable goals to help them focus their efforts. Consider setting a more manageable short-term goal that is a critical part of the puzzle (e.g. No child in these three zip codes goes without breakfast, or to change a key law). By narrowing your focus and getting clear about what smaller steps you need to achieve to get closer to your lofty mission, you’ll find yourself better able to prioritize your time, concentrate your teams work, and be more motivated.

2. Where is my sweet-spot?

Are you focussing your efforts at the intersection at what works and what you’re good at? If you are not putting most of your energy into activities that you are uniquely placed to pursue then you are wasting your time. Focus on the work that you do better than anyone else. Focus on the work that has actually been proven (by you or by others) to actually get you where you are going. Resist the temptation to chase grants and funding and head off into territory that you are not good at.

3. Is my money where my mouth is?

When was the last time you did a resource allocation assessment? How much time and money are you spending on what? Many nonprofits, once they actually do this assessment find there is a mismatch between how they are allocating their resources and what they believe their priorities are. If you are spending 40% of your time on running a benefit that raises 20% of your budget, or if you are spending 25% of your time on Board Management, and only 10% on program review, you may have a problem. The first step to improving the way you work is better understanding the way you work.


4. Why just me?

Are you going it alone more than you should be? When was the last time you did a review of other organizations working in your space? Invest time in getting to know who else is working in your field. Put together a list of other organizations, companies, government agencies, foundations, people (including celebrities, friends, family, colleagues, Board members) who have expressed passion and interest in your cause. Spend your next Board meeting discussing ways you could more actively collaborate with people on this list, and do not limited yourself just to questions of fundraising. Could you work together to find referrals, run a joint program-measurement effort, build a data-base together, run a shared awareness campaigns, share space or share back-office resources?

Then – take a deep breath and pat yourself on the back. You’ve earned it!

Last modified on Monday, 10 August 2015 15:15
Liana Downey

Liana Downey is an experienced management consultant, who has consistently delivered results for clients on critical topics around the world. Liana is an expert advisor to the Australian Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. Prior to establishing Liana Downey & Associates, she led McKinsey & Company's Australian government and social-sector practices, and holds an MBA (Public Management) from Stanford University.