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    17 Nov

    When we lead a nonprofit we don’t just answer to our leadership team, staff, donors and volunteers. We are responsible to our board for managing and stewarding all of your resources and leading the organization. As part of our church’s executive team I sat in board meetings for years observing the discussions around budgets, staffing concerns, and future growth plans. 

    You likely have savvy business leaders on your board as well as spiritually sensitive advisors who are all evaluating the core points of your ministry. These women and men are in place to care for you as a leader as well as the organization at large.A good board is concerned about your health and sanity as a leader as well as the health of the organization from every perspective.

    Depending on how you have established (or inherited) your board, this group of leaders often has a 30,000 foot view and may not get into the weeds of management specifics.However, there are ripple effects tied to management decisions you make in which they WILL be interested. In episode 1 I covered areas that you should consider outsourcing - they are all internal support positions. Members of your board who are in business will understand the pains of downsizing in rough economic times. Avoiding financial and relationship damage when these decisions are required is a delicate topic.

    During my time in church leadership when faced with layoff decisions there were leaders who had to be considered and as we processed ramifications of these decisions we always had to consider how many other people would be impacted as a result of that one person who had to be laid off. It is one of the worst and most sickening conversations to have when you are inflicting pain into someone’s life. I absolutely hate it.

    Your board is concerned with macro issues, but when you can make small management decisions that lead to healthier movement for the organization, they will, or at least should, appreciate your forethought. 

    Outsourcing for nonprofits is still a little new, so you have an opportunity to lead change and take a different approach to nonprofit management.

    Outsourcing your finance and accounting, at least in part, is one of the healthiest steps you can take in leading your church or nonprofit. My last church had several issues with staff working with money. Fortunately there were excellent systems in place and violations rose to the surface before the situations went too far.

    Multiple layers of security are implemented when you use a contractor or another organization to oversee accounting. You need someone internal to the organization who also has access and an understanding of finances, but this is one of the best ways to eliminate fraud or embezzlement. Creating duplicity through multiple layers and steps in your accounting processes increases the chances of accurate reporting and minimizes liability for all involved.

    I’ve seen many churches who tasked someone with bookkeeping and accounting with zero background in this area. It’s not just a poor business practice, but opens you up for increased legal liability. Faith-based nonprofits face a lot of scrutiny and many organizations and individuals are waiting to pounce on any opportunity to criticize churches as a whole. Don’t give them that opportunity. Your board wants to see you leave a long legacy. Embezzlement and fraud don’t usually lend themselves to becoming a trusted leader.

    The expense of hiring a knowledgeable account can save you thousands in legal fees if something went wrong. In the worst cases it could save your church. In case you are not aware, you could also be penalized as an individual if you are the pastor, tied to managing the finances or even a board member, depending on your state and how your bylaws are written.

    It is never worth it, so cross your t’s and dot your i’s from the beginning. Don’t open yourself up to unnecessary liability.

    Human Resources
    This is another position I strongly recommend outsourcing to a professional. Personnel laws are constantly changing, discrimination is sensitive and ongoing training for staff is crucial. An internal admin-type person can provide support for tasks such as weekly timecards, dispersing informational updates, and being the point of contact for staff. You may also have someone internal who is the first layer for concerns from staff, as long as they have been properly trained in HR guidelines.

    Your board will appreciate the professionalism you instill in your organization with a trained HR pro. Once again, it reduces your liability, which is always a potential concern for nonprofits. Medical benefits can get complicated and your staff will appreciate having a knowledgeable person they can go to.If there are issues within the organization such as abuse or discrimination, levels of confidentiality are greater if your staff have an outside person with whom they can speak.

    Board members are typically not shy when they notice areas for improvement. Communication is the face of your ministry and if you have a subpar comm. Director or marketing team it’s the constant first impression. It can impact your front door and your back door.

    Your board wants to see you create an appealing first impression and sometimes that means you need to bring in someone with a proven track record to update your website, design more attractive templates for social media and all your print and service assets. Outsourcing these areas allow you to bring in a high level of expertise without the high price tag that is usually connected to successful creatives.

    Whatever challenges you are facing as you move into the next few months and next season of your ministry these areas we discussed today are sure to be hot buttons with your board. Compare the costs and weigh the benefits. Figure out the staffing mix that works for you, balancing between permanent staff and project-based freelancers or short-term contract positions. I highly encourage committing to no more than 6 months at a time with a contractor.

    I would love to work with on creating a business strategy to enter 2021 with a fresh perspective. Contact me and let's explore how we can collaborate.

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