A Dozen New Year’s Resolutions Worth Keeping

It's that time again: Another trip around the sun completed, another opportunity to "start over," to plan, to dream.

I'm not in the business of dreams, which must be a whole lotta fun. Fortunately, though, I AM in the business of helping big dreamers do that which ultimately will make their dreams come true: getting organized, getting the right people involved, building sustainability.

I have several good friends who have done these very things, and have helped a whole lot of people and worthwhile causes in the process. I asked them a simple question: What are the best things that organizations can do to move themselves forward in a significant way? Along with these friends, I've compiled a list of New Year's resolutions that you'll want to consider keeping in 2006 and beyond. Some require the institution of systems that you won't have to revisit very often at all; others will require an on-going commitment for proper care and feeding. Hopefully, in many cases, you've already worked these and seen the fruits of your labors.

We are absolutely convinced that these resolutions can and will make come true your dreams of a thriving, impactful organization. Special thanks to:
- Lois Becker, Mesa County Public Library District Foundation
- Chris Herrman, Colorado Conservation Trust
- Gary Schrenk, North Colorado Medical Center Foundation
- Michaelle Smith, Hilltop Community Resources
- Anne Wenzel, Western Colorado Community Foundation.

1. Revisit your organization's purpose, and look at ALL activities to ensure that each directly serves the stated purpose. Then examine the activities, both internal and external, for their ability to accomplish your intended outcome(s). Note: Just getting clear about the intended outcome of each activity will be incredibly valuable.

2. Establish one genuine and significant new collaborative relationship with another organization.

3. Establish a procedure to formally evaluate your executive director, and institutionalize an annual process to repeat this process. If there's not already an executive director job description in place, or if it is in dire need of update, get this document done.

4. Write a usable strategic/business plan for your organization, taking you into 2006-2010. If you don't feel you can do a full plan, support your program efforts with a fundraising plan and/or a more general outreach plan.

5. Do a "customer service" audit of your operations, services and facilities, considering your responsiveness to all stakeholder groups. Implement at least two improvements as a result of the audit.

6. Review your bylaws and ensure that they reflect the way in which you want to do business, and that they are written to prevent future problems.

7. Dump one ineffective special event.

8. Review your systems for recruiting and retaining talented paid and volunteer personnel. Pay particular attention to the orientation and on-going immersion of new talent in the organization's purpose, past accomplishments and future goals.

9. Do a "from scratch" (not based on historical data) review of your expense budget to consider how efficiently and effectively you are allocating agency resources.

10. Review your organization's case for support, then design and implement an on-going donor communications program.

11. Institute meaningful systems for measuring outcomes, including a formal way for the information to be internally used, analyzed and acted upon.

12. Get your board of directors' act together: Commit to an annual assessment and planning retreat. Involve yourselves in fundraising training and activity, including full financial participation by each member. Set expectations and systems for accountability. Admit that nothing is going to get done without an investment of time, and then commit the time.

Strong Leaders / Strong Stories

Strong leaders have strong stories, and a solid sense of "self" as a leader.  But too often, even strong women view themselves or are perceived as being very good at "getting things done," but not as valuable strategic resources. What can you do to change this?  Find Out More Here