Monday, November 9, 2015

The challenges of small nonprofit work

As I was meeting with a prospective donor today, I was reflecting on the challenges of doing what I perceive as my life's work...

The single biggest challenge at a small organization is finding the time to do everything and the balance among competing priorities.  Should I be meeting with a donor who might fund something a year from now or should I be working on implementing this program I already have funding for?  Can I drop work on the annual fund appeal in order to attend to some program business that actually puts food on someone's table, or if I'm late getting the appeal out will it affect results and therefore our ability to put food on people's tables in the future.  There's this intriguing new program idea just starting to develop, but how do I find the time to develop the idea, raise the money to implement the idea, and keep all of our current programs afloat, too?

And then, of course, there is the jack-of-all-trades I worked on next year's budget, on a set of technology policies and procedures, met with a new volunteer, prepared for and ran a staff meeting (for all three of us, but still have to do it!), prepared for and met with the donor, did some preparation for a Board of Directors meeting, and resolved several questions or issues from staff or volunteers.  And this was a light day!  Sometimes all of those things could happen within a couple of hours!

How I wish I had a magic wand to wave to ensure that we had all the resources we need to do all of the work that needs to be done!

Until then, know that, despite the frustrations and challenges, I wouldn't have it any other way!  I'll write more about the rewards of nonprofit work sometime soon!