Are you keeping secrets? I am. I’m sorry. I’ll do better.

Posted in operations plan / staff team

Are you keeping secrets? I am. I’m sorry. I’ll do better.

I’ve been with my organization for almost 10 years and while I have no thoughts of leaving, a nagging question keeps coming up, am I doing tasks that might be hard for someone to take over when I retire. I’ll give you two examples.

I handle all the bookkeeping* using Sage50 Pro. I know that accounting software isn’t something everyone has experience running. I started small, with only a few accounts, and it has evolved to a complex bookkeeping system. What a mountain to climb to jump in at this advanced stage.

I also handle all the email marketing using an online email service provider. I know that email service providers are becoming more common, but not everyone has the skill. We started with a small list that has grown to multiple lists, tags, and scheduling – and it isn’t cheap!

Could someone step into my job and not worry about learning these tasks?

Good news, I have contractors in place who can either train a new employee or completely take over the task. But...

There are other tasks that are not so easy to hand over, and I feel like I’m keeping secrets.

My year-end triggers a series of tasks that follow one after the other. Missing one step could jeopardize more than just the steps that follow. It could risk the organization losing its non-profit status or worse. Here’s what I mean:

  • Year end – send files to the auditor within 10 days
  • Audit underway – pick location for AGM
  • Audit complete – submit tax and rebate applications
  • AGM complete – file provincial non-profit annual return and updated list of board members
  • AGM complete – submit report to major funder(s)
  • Annual return complete – file federal list of board members

Most of these steps happen so automatically that I don’t even think about them. I’ve become complacent. #sigh Most years I don’t even think about filing the annual return until I get an email from the provincial office.

That’s not planning.

I’ve always kept a list of tasks that a replacement executive director needs to do each month. It’s poorly formatted, not very easy to follow, and frankly, I could do better.

Here’s what I developed to make it clearer.

I’ve been following Michael Hyatt for about a year now and I’m on my third quarter using his Full Focus Planner – which I highly recommend! Mr. Hyatt teaches his Planner users to create an ideal week. I took that one step further and created an ideal year, for two key reasons.

First, an ideal year is a much more usable tool for someone to have in hand when starting a job like mine, especially for the first time. It will help ensure deadlines aren’t missed and plans can be made.

Second, an ideal year will be an excellent tool for my board to use to monitor if my work is being done on time. It is my responsibility to provide the tools my board uses to monitor, well, me, and to ensure the organization is compliant with all legislation. I can’t imagine the horror a board member might feel if they were to discover something big was missed and the organization’s legal status was in jeopardy. I’m aiming to fix this.

This is what I created.

Using a calendar format, I created a document limited to 12 pages. It includes what’s due and what’s coming up. That’s it. Backstory, exposition, and suggestions have been left out. I also dropped the calendar into my executive limitations monitoring report for board meetings. My hope is that this will set-up the new girl for success and give my board a little extra information to track my work.

I like the way it turned out and I’m hopeful the board will find it useful. (I'll post an update once I test-drive it for the first time.)

Thanks for reading!



*Giving up control of the bookkeeping feels like sending all your kids off to college all at once. "...wait, don’t leave, those are my babies! No one else will care for them the way I do." #controlfreak #idontevenhavekids

Hi, I'm Christie Saas, former board member, current Executive Director, and non-profit volunteer. I remember well, those early years when I lacked the training, the confidence, and the work-life balance to focus on becoming the best non-profit leader I could be.

Fast-forward past many bumps in the road, lessons learned, and you’ll find me still in the trenches, but a little wiser, a little calmer, and a whole lot happier. I love my work and I want to help you love yours too.

I created to give you tools, tips, and templates to remove the mystery of learning to run a small non-profit. If you’re a brand-new non-profit leader, or a little more seasoned, someone who’s looking to make a meaningful contribution and still have time for a full life away from the job, you’re in the right place.

© Christie Saas 2019 All Rights Reserved


Want to learn more?
Start with one of my free resources.

FREE Guides