A non profit's mission is its guiding star, and the fire that keeps burning and keeps the nonprofit going. This fuels the passion of its founders and the team, who make the nonprofit a success.
Recently, I spoke to an executive director who described the same dilemma that I often hear: she is intensely passionate about her mission and growing the nonprofit's impact. However, she also feels shackled by all the practical elements of being at the helm of a nonprofit: daily management of her own and her staff's task lists, keeping up with ever-changing priorities, managing staff progress and managing relationships. As a non profit's efforts begin to bear fruit and they begin to roll, this situation gets more intense. They get inundated with these "chores" more and more and it is harder to focus on pursuing the mission.
I had a very similar sentiment echoed by another executive at an organization. She was growing her client base and she was burying herself underneath a pile of emails from prospects, clients and partners. She told me that she needed an executive assistant to organize and delegate.
I told her that she did not need an executive assistant. She needed a way to collect and use her data, backed by a good CRM, and use it to draw insights about who to nurture and how to cultivate relationships!
As with the organizations described here, the eternal dilemma is, where to focus: vision or execution?
My answer is: invest a little money in undertaking an assessment of your technology. This will give you an idea of whether your current technology portfolio is helping your organization fire on all its cylinders, or is leaving gaping holes in addressing your needs. This is the initial step before defining a forward looking strategy.
Assessment will also raise flags about whether the data coming into your database is clean and useful. Often times, there are no set data policies to bring the data into the organization. As a result, depending on who is updating the system, records related to the same event, created by different folks, look wildly different. This leads to inconsistent data and reduces its usefulness.
Next comes defining your Data and CRM Strategy. This will help you create a plan to put into use the various features of a CRM system that will help you propel your operations. During this phase, you will also define key performance indicators to track the health of your operations.
Based on these, you will then get a CRM system operational. If nothing else, this will give you a realistic picture of your current and future technology needs and performance. Some organizations simply decide to work within the current scope of their database at this point, while some others decide to take a leap towards a better one.
Armed with this new insight into your organization's capacity and potential, you can go back to focusing on the vision. As mentioned above, your vision is your guiding star, and the fire that fuels the passion. Your technology is the force that reduces your effort and improves your effectiveness and execution. A well chosen CRM System is like an experienced executive assistant, who keeps you up to date and focused on your priorities, task lists and schedules. As an added bonus, this executive assistant works for EVERYONE within your organization, not just you.
Does this article describe your dilemma? What is your most pressing dilemma? Do share with us in the comments section!