When you are running a non-profit organisation it is important to organise your office and your goals to give yourself the best opportunity for success.

There is a lot of time, effort and careful planning that goes into running a successful non-profit. It takes comprehensive knowledge of your cause, your finances and company management skills to meet your goals. However, there are a few basic tips that can help you get started:

  • Make sure you have a set of clearly defined goals that cover both your overarching cause and your specific daily tasks.
  • Set up your files and data in a way that is both secure and well-organised so that you can access needed information easily and keep it safe from theft or damage.
  • Organise your teams in a smart and advantageous way.

Have Clearly Defined Goals

The first step in organising anything is to clearly define your goals. Don’t just charge zealously towards your cause; make sure you have a clear understanding of what exactly you want to achieve. Start with an abstract idea and work backwards. Give yourself the eight word test. This means your mission statement should be refined enough to be in eight words or less. If your charity is to help feed homeless men and women in your city, start with that idea and then get more specific. Perhaps your specific goal is to open soup kitchens in an area that needs it.

From there keep working backwards and refine your ideas until you have daily goals. For the same reason it is important to clearly define overarching goals, it is important to define your daily goals. At the beginning of each week, make sure each team member knows exactly what to do for their individual daily tasks.

Set Up Ordered and Secure Filing

When you are attempting to keep an office of any kind focused and organised it is important to have a structured system of filing. For a non-profit organisation, it is especially important. You will need to keep track of financial documents, tax records, donor information and possibly even cash money.

First, make sure any paper documents or digital hard drives that contain valuable or sensitive information are kept in a safe place. Whether it is because of fire or theft, important documents that are lost can hurt you financially or you may lose time trying to recover them. A fire and heat resistant safe can protect your documents and data from both fire and opportunistic theft. Keep safes and filing cabinets behind locked doors for added security.

Set Up Smart Teams

If you break up volunteers and employees into smaller teams to handle different tasks, make sure you pay close attention to who you are putting in each group. There are several factors to consider. First, you should select a group leader who, ideally, has some experience in whatever task his or her team is taking on. If the task is new to everyone, pick the person with the most leadership experience.

Next, make sure each team has at least one person who is uniquely qualified to handle any task that requires specific knowledge. For instance, if a team’s job is to set up a website for your organisation, make sure there are people on the team with web development experience.

There are many tips for forming different office teams that are ubiquitous to any company or organisation but non-profits have at least one unique challenge. Time and availability is an important factor in setting up new teams. Larger charities sometimes have full time employees but most have volunteers that may not always be available during regular work hours. If that is the case, set up teams of individuals with similar hours of availability and assign them tasks that can be done during that time.

Photo credit: Some rights reserved by Rita H Cobbs