Every organization that I talk to has big dreams….dreams of getting bigger, expanding their reach and doing more. And, these dreams are good as they drive us to pursue greater things. But, what if we need to stop and make sure that we are serving well before we put our efforts into growing? This is part of stewarding what we have been given.
To determine if we are ready for growth or if we are currently maxed out, we need to look at the following:
- Workloads – In many organizations and ministries, staff is overworked, working far more hours than they are being paid for. How often has your organization grown or added a function that has been absorbed by someone already working a full-time job? Or, does your organization operate entirely on volunteer power? While admirable in theory, in practicality, an organization will encounter a point at which it can no longer grow when relying solely on volunteers. Sometimes, there must be someone whose job it is to “steer the ship.”
- Job Satisfaction – Have you conducted a satisfaction survey for your staff? It is a best practice to administer an anonymous survey for all staff once a year to gauge how the staff is feeling about their jobs and about the organization as a whole. The responses to the survey should be taken seriously and used to guide workload, task assignments, and benefits. Responses will also tell if staff see the organization as being true to its mission. (An employee survey is available for members of the Nonprofit Compass in our member portal).
- Staff Turnover – Why do staff leave your organization? Each time an employee or volunteer leaves the organization, conduct an exit interview to determine why the person is leaving. The reasons staff leave can also provide you with clues about what is happening within the organization.
- Outcomes – Is your organization accomplishing what it was made to do? If the organization is struggling to accomplish its goals, then it is not yet time to expand. Instead focus on its purpose and how you can best serve. In other words, get good at what you are doing before adding any other pieces.
- Administration – Do the administrative parts of the organization function well? This includes IT, Human Resources, Accounting, etc. While these parts may seem unimportant to the overall mission of the organization, they contribute to its functioning. Before thinking about growing or expanding, be certain that these infrastructure pieces are working well.
While your heart may desire to serve and grow, being a good steward means taking the time to ensure that the organization is functioning well. Adding more services can often be a breaking point where the infrastructure starts to crumble. Know that this can happen at any stage in the lifecycle of the organization — from start-up to experienced organization. Taking time to build a strong organization is never time wasted.