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How to Stop Non-Profit Policies from Becoming Mind-Numbingly Boring

How to Stop Non-Profit Policies from Becoming Mind-Numbingly Boring

Posted in office operations / filing / policy / board meeting

Non-profits have sooo many policies. Policies that define the work of the board. Policies that define what an executive director is and isn’t allowed to do. Policies that tell the staff team what they can and cannot do. A non-profit’s policies, from governing to operational, are the rules that...


Five Ways a Non-Profit Executive Director Can Survive When the Job Gets Ugly

Five Ways a Non-Profit Executive Director Can Survive When the Job Gets Ugly

Posted in executive director / self care

Being a non-profit executive director can be a very rewarding experience. It doesn’t take long in the job to see the impact of the organization’s work and to feel truly proud to be part of the team. Those moments are a wonderful gift, and a time that should be savoured, if only because there...


The Challenges of Setting Up a Non-Profit Home Office

The Challenges of Setting Up a Non-Profit Home Office

Posted in office operations / risk management

It’s hard to believe it’s been three years since offices were shut down and we started working from home. At the time, it seemed like a temporary move, kind of like being displaced because of a city street repair… in a couple weeks we’d be right back to normal. Not even close.   As the...


Checklist for an Easier Non-Profit Audit (Because We Aren’t Magic)

Checklist for an Easier Non-Profit Audit (Because We Aren’t Magic)

Posted in financial management / annual audit / year end

Not all non-profits will have an annual audit each year. The legislation for annual financial review will vary from province to province and state to state. Regardless of the complexity of any assessment of a non-profit’s financial records and systems, presenting well organized information is...


When is the Best Year End Date for a Non-Profit

When is the Best Year End Date for a Non-Profit

Posted in financial management / annual audit / year end

Year end for a non-profit is a busy time. Accounting will need to be wrapped up and the financial files sent off for an audit or financial review. Sometimes it can take several weeks to get all the files tidy and ready to go. Then it can take another few weeks for the auditor to complete the...


When to Answer a Question with a Question

When to Answer a Question with a Question

Posted in executive director / self care

Most decisions at a non-profit will cross the executive director’s desk at some point. While we might have an amazing team, we will still field questions about budget limitations for programs and advice for challenges. We are often the first stop for questions about the operations of...


Being a New Board Member Can Be Intimidating

Being a New Board Member Can Be Intimidating

Posted in board of directors

Does this seem familiar? There is a participant who regularly takes part in the programs and services of the non-profit. They are a regular donor, contributing to fundraising campaigns. Eventually they start volunteering at events, selling tickets, and helping distribute promotional material....


How to Draw Out Challenges Weighing On Your Team

How to Draw Out Challenges Weighing On Your Team

Posted in executive director / staff team / staff meeting

A typical staff meeting can feel very productive, have a great conversation, but still not reveal the stressors a team is facing. The reluctance to speak up can vary with reasons from being unsure if a topic is appropriate, to feeling it won’t matter. But is does matter because a healthy staff...


Good Old-Fashioned Survey

Good Old-Fashioned Survey

Posted in strategic plan / operations plan

Each year, a non-profit will create a strategic plan that is responsive to the needs of clients, members, and stakeholders. But, how do you know what those needs are? You ask, and here’s how. Throughout its operating year, a non-profit will offer all different kinds of programs and...


A Board Meeting Agenda is a Little Like a Game of Go Fish, Do You Have Any 2’s?

A Board Meeting Agenda is a Little Like a Game of Go Fish, Do You Have Any 2’s?

Posted in board meeting

One of the jobs of an executive director is to support the board of directors to do their job. The executive director, usually a paid employee, is often tasked with doing the work to prep for board meetings, so the volunteer board will have everything they need at their fingertips during...


Can an employee expect privacy at work?

Can an employee expect privacy at work?

Posted in office operations / emergency / policy

Office environments have changed over the last few years. We went from working in a central office to being required to work from home during the pandemic. When it was finally allowed to go back to work in a central office, many employees continued to work from home or embraced varying...


Make it Easier to Meet Quorum

Make it Easier to Meet Quorum

Posted in board of directors / board meeting

Non-profits are legal entities, governed by a board of directors. The decisions a board makes, happen at board meetings. Decisions might be simple, such as approving the agenda, or complex, such as deciding employee wages. To prevent a splinter group of board members from meeting privately...


The Strategic Plan IS a Non-Profit’s Road Map for the Year

The Strategic Plan IS a Non-Profit’s Road Map for the Year

Posted in strategic plan / board of directors

The new calendar year has us all writing new year’s resolutions, spending some time reflecting on the past year, and making plans for the new year. We spend time in the office supply store sorting through planners and deciding the system we want to use to map out our goals for the coming year....


First 30 Days for a New Non-Profit Executive Director

First 30 Days for a New Non-Profit Executive Director

Posted in job description / executive director / staff team

Whether it’s a first job as an executive director or a first day at a new non-profit, knowing where to start can be overwhelming. That’s because the 4 key areas of a non-profit executive director’s job are massive. Those 4 areas are: governance/board support and policy management; making sure...


Risk Management is the Umbrella You Didn’t Think You Needed

Risk Management is the Umbrella You Didn’t Think You Needed

Posted in emergency / risk management

Non-profits are complicated organizations. Strategic plans are directly tied to the wants and needs of clients, members, and stakeholders, which creates a big responsibility to protect those needs from something damaging or undesirable. Most non-profits are usually funded through grants,...


3 Steps to Get Ready for Holiday Office Closure

3 Steps to Get Ready for Holiday Office Closure

Posted in office operations / vacation / staff team

The holidays are right around the corner and taking time off from work can provide a much-needed break. Whether a non-profit closes for one week, two weeks, or a set number of days, a holiday office closure isn’t a simple weekend, with everyone back at their desks on Monday. The longer time...


Offices are Closed for TWO Weeks

Offices are Closed for TWO Weeks

Posted in executive director / vacation / staff team

Non-profits are not typically wealthy organizations. No matter how many grant applications are approved, or donations are received, those funds are used primarily for fulfilling the vision and mission of the organization. That sometimes translates into paying salaries that are not quite as high...


Take the Guess Work Out of Non-Profit Gift Giving

Take the Guess Work Out of Non-Profit Gift Giving

Posted in policy / staff team

Here and there throughout the operating year, a non-profit will give different kinds of gifts. It might be a gift when an employee reaches a work milestone. It might be a gift to thank a summer student. It might be a farewell gift for a departing board member. There is nothing like the...


Create a Program Evaluation to Gather Useable Information

Create a Program Evaluation to Gather Useable Information

Evaluation, measurement, KPIs and assessment are all part of the work of a non-profit. Feedback is collected to help determine if the organization is meeting its strategic priorities. But that flow from strategic plan to program to feedback and back around, can feel overwhelming and the creation...


This Meeting Could Have Been an Email

This Meeting Could Have Been an Email

Posted in staff meeting / board meeting

With the shift to a digital workplace these last couple years, virtual meetings have become the norm. Without having to worry about a meeting location, catering preferences, drive time, or road conditions, meetings became easier. Easy meetings soon became meeting more often, which turned...


Filing System Basics for Non-Profits

Filing System Basics for Non-Profits

Posted in office operations / filing

I remember a conversation I had with a colleague from another organization. She confessed she had all her hard copy files in order but didn’t really understand how to make a computer filing system. Whenever she created a document on the computer, she would print a hard copy for filing but leave...


Create an Agenda for ANY Meeting

Create an Agenda for ANY Meeting

Posted in staff meeting / board meeting

From board meeting to staff meeting, or member’s meetings, a successful agenda will help to keep the discussion organized and orderly. Agendas that are poorly constructed will waste attendee’s time, important decisions might be missed or handled incorrectly, and an inexperienced meeting chair...


Non-Profit Budget Basics

Non-Profit Budget Basics

Posted in financial management / operations plan

A non-profit budget is a partner to the operational plan. Together they provide the road map for what the organization aims to work on for its operating year. It sounds so simple, but when it comes time to sit down at the computer to create a new budget, that blank spread sheet can make the...


The Impact of a Non-Profit’s Vision and Mission Statements

The Impact of a Non-Profit’s Vision and Mission Statements

When a non-profit first starts up, a handful of strategic documents are created to chart the course for the road it will travel over the years. Each year after that, the non-profit will hold a strategic planning session to examine the needs of clients/stakeholders/members and adjust the...


Why an Executive Director Shouldn't be a Jack of All Trades

Why an Executive Director Shouldn't be a Jack of All Trades

Posted in job description / executive director

There is an expectation, real or perceived, that the executive director of a non-profit needs to be a jack of all trades – someone who picks up all the left-over little tasks and handles them as part of regular work duties. The executive director is often expected to handle all the accounting,...