Sunday, January 4, 2015

How to Run a Successful Non-Profit Corporation

The Huffington Post published a blog by Jennifer Laszlo-Mizrahi on how to run a successful non-profit: Good thing too, because I really needed this advice.

My household is a non-profit with a cantankerous two-person board of directors, ages four and seven, and a demanding CEO who is not me. It's all we can do to keep this enterprise afloat; to keep the funders and the board happy; to make sure we don't experience "mission creep"; and to file our taxes correctly and on time. I've re-printed five of Ms. Laszlo-Mizrahi's ten tips here verbatim, but have customized the content slightly:

1. "Have a clear vision, mission statement, theory of change, and performance metrics."

You should be able to "define in eight words or less the outcome you want to create for the world." Fine. Here it is: "Keep my kids alive and out of prison." That's the goal. Once the goal is established, you should "be very clear regarding how you will specifically achieve your goals," and "specify the resources you will need and the metrics you will use to check your performance." Also fine. We will achieve these goals with (mostly empty) threats, begging, and bribery. We will need a minimum three percent cost-of-living adjustment raise every year. Our progress metrics will be a lack of teen pregnancy and drug use, and a minimum 3.2 GPA.

2. "Say 'NO' to every good idea."

You should reject "good" ideas in favor of "great" ones, and "the most important tool in your tool chest is the word 'no'." Perfect! I already scream say "NO" about 1,000 times per day. And I reject many, many "good" ideas all day long. For example, just yesterday, I rejected Paige's suggestion that we launch a remote control helicopter off of Isaac's head. You also "must keep yourself and your team focused on making breakthrough results happen." Well. Psssh. We just built the Heartlake LEGO Shopping Mall, didn't we?

3. "Perfection is the enemy of the 'good enough.'"

You're not supposed to strive for perfection, because "perfection is too slow to achieve in a rapid 24/7 environment." Again, excellent! I gave up on perfection long ago, so we are already doing this. For example, Isaac's pull up leaked the other night, and instead of washing the sheets, I just put a towel on top until the pee dried up and we all forgot about it for a couple more days until his room started to smell like pee. Good enough!

4. "There is no "I" in team."

It's recommended that you "praise those who are doing a good job" and "reward excellence." Fortunately, we live in an age where we're all supposed to tell our boards of directors what a good job they are doing by running around in a circle kicking a ball, and then give them Welch's fruit snacks and Honest Tea juice boxes as a reward. Done and done! Also, I'd like to take this opportunity to point out that although there is no "I" in team, there are no fewer than seven "I's" in "I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS HOUSE IS STILL SUCH A FUCKING SHIT HOLE!"

5. "Don't forget to take a vacation."

Apparently people "forget" to do this. Who knew? Supposedly, "breaks enable you to take a step back and re-evaluate people, processes and performance metrics." Again, good. I just took a vacation, but I sort of forgot that it was one, since I was with my board of directors and my CEO. This advice comes just in time for me to get back to the resort spa known as my office, where I can (usually) complete a sentence and a thought without interruption. There are no margaritas or conga lines, but there are Cheetos and Diet Dr. Pepper, and no one is asking me for any of it.

2015 is the Year of the Non-Profit!

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