Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Organizational Resolutions

AS WE NEAR THE END OF ANOTHER YEAR, I offer up this post of organizational resolutions, which I wrote in 2008. As I re-read them, I think they hold up pretty well for the continuing financial uncertainties most cultural nonprofits face in 2010, although two are particularly salient right now: become financially literate and get comfortable with change.

Financial literacy is more than being able to read a monthly or quarterly statement, although that's a basic skill everyone should be taught. To me, financial literacy is being able to draw conclusions about how the numbers support mission and make an impact on the audiences you serve. That entails understanding how the numbers relate to each other, such as all annual income raised from individuals, as well as what among them are your organization's key financial and operational indicators. Every organization needs to have a handful of key indicators that will help boards and staffs track financial health. The recently released 2009 Museum Financial Information from the AAM Press is a great place to start benchmarking your organization's financial activity.

Getting comfortable with change is the mantra for the nonprofit sector. Economic downturns are important catalysts for strengthening good-to-great organizations, fostering innovation, and otherwise weeding out the herd. While hunkering down to weather out a storm is our default approach, those who do may one day emerge from the trench to find they've been left in the dust. Hunker down as you feel most comfortable, but remain flexible enough to take calculated risks along the way.

Photo: Happy New Year !!! from Creativity+ Timothy K Hamilton

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