From 100 Things We’ve Learned

A case study: lessons from small organizations in trying to share back office

Some of the lessons we learned: 1. In the smallest organizations, capacity is in individuals and their institutional knowledge, not organizational systems. When inevitable transitions occur, built capacity can quickly be lost. Attention must be paid to building sustained people capacity somewhere in the network. Transitions often occur at a rate that prohibits capacity building. 2. Small groups need either a large organization with significant built capacity already on their team or they will need a much larger cash investment to buy what they lack.

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#32 of 100 Things We’ve Learned: Tips for business people joining a nonprofit board

Nonprofits are valued for their prudence, commitment to service and fiscal restraint, yet are expected to produce significant community benefits.
In the for-profit world, business owners are rewarded for taking risks – usually with other people’s money (venture capital). Under-capitalization is warned against. And a personality like Donald Trump is lionized for his opulent lifestyle and forgiven for past business failures.

Not so in the nonprofit world. Here, individuals are expected to make sacrifices for the common good in the name of service. Making do with less is a familiar mantra. Pick up a business publication, and the virtuous charities are the ones with the lowest overhead.

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