Improving Your CSO's Operations

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CSOs are critical actors in achieving social impact and in building vibrant communities. At the same time, many are under resourced and usually receive funding for programs rather than for infrastructure, organizational development and leadership training. Under such constraints, however, leaders can still take steps to improve their CSOs' effectiveness. As food for thought, we’ve consolidated the Forbes Nonprofit Council’s recommendations for improving CSO operations here:

1) Foster new ideas so that current operations and procedures don’t limit creativity

2) Involve the whole of organization by making effectiveness an annual strategic goal, specifically:

  • Consider the best practices of businesses as well as nonprofits
  • Have each team member propose improvements and involve them in making the changes
  • Revisit your mission, goals and metrics to build common understanding
  • Review and assess your processes and systems on a regular basis
  • Consult frontline staff and donors before investing in changes, gaining insight into the effectiveness of your workflows and metrics

3) Ensure adequate admin support since many in the CSO world spend too much time on this rather than programming

4) Establish clear lines between board governance and management by cultivating the distinct roles that let each excel

5) Solicit external feedback through focus groups that provide outsider perspectives on your CSOs reputation

6) Update and make accessible standard operating procedures (SOPs) to document and train everyone on the same frameworks, definitions and processes, ensuring consistency and that day-to-day operations are easy to implement when key people are absent

7) Delegate so staff can become better leaders, the organization can be more productive and there's more time for strategic thinking

8) Reexamine how and where you tell your story, using the best methods and means for storytelling to set you apart from others and build momentum for success




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