Monday, August 26, 2013

Aligning Mission and Money

By Virgil Carter

Despite the slow economy, some non-profit organizations are doing well.  Their membership and major programs, products and services continue to be successful.  Their financial performance continues with annual positive variances to their yearly budgets.

Many other non-profit organizations, however, have not been so fortunate.  Since the beginning of the economic downturn in 2009, the membership and major programs, products and services of these organizations have not performed as well as hoped.  Many of these organizations have experienced substantial reductions in membership, dues revenues and non-dues revenues.   The threat (or actuality) of negative financial performance has alarmed volunteer and staff leadership alike.  What can be done?
This situation is really about aligning mission and money.  When the economy and organizational performance are going well, there may often be little concern for the alignment of mission and money.  When things are going so well, however, the alignment of mission and money becomes much more critical for the prolonged health of the organization.  What should volunteer and staff leaders be doing to align mission and money?

One key approach to align mission and money is evaluation.  Annual evaluation of association programs, products and services serves to analyze and make decisions about existing and proposed programs, products and services to determine the degree to which each of these supports the organization’s mission and operational goals, including financial performance.  An on-going annual valuation process, tied into the organization’s annual budget process, providing a rational decision-making basis for existing and new programs—which programs deserve continuation, expansion, reduction or sun-setting.  This same review process also helps to identify and prioritize which of the new program proposals deserves resources for the coming year.

If your organization is facing challenging economic conditions this may be the ideal time to dust off and refresh your annual review of programs, products and services.  Are your mission and money aligned as needed to support your organization’s successful performance?

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