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Giving staff the resources they need to do the job they should be doing

How much time does your staff spend waiting for their computer to start up, or pull that report you need?

How much time does your staff spend printing letters and stuffing envelopes?

Whether you’re the top executive or you are leading a team, you are probably a master at working with limited resources. This usually comes from a place of passion for the mission. What I often hear from the field is that Every dollar spent on support and infrastructure is a dollar not spent fulfilling the mission. But I want to challenge that thinking – here's why...

There is a balance between investing in the mission and providing sufficient resources to your team that help them do the job they need to do. In fact, I think it is important to not see resources as taking away from money spent on the mission but rather a way of INVESTING IN the mission.

I wonder what this looks like in your organization. Do you have the right balance or could your team work more effectively if they had the right balance of resources?

Or perhaps working on a shoestring is the only thing you’ve ever known.

My name is J.L. Nave. I'm the principal coach and consultant at Nave Strategies where I provide practical advice and services to small and mid-size arts and cultural organizations to help my clients move from surviving to thriving.

Today I’d like to share a different way to think about this.

This is my way of sharing what I have learned from decades in the industry and giving you the tools you need to help your organization realize its full potential.

Let’s consider this scenario:

Your organization has a practice of only replacing computers when they stop working. Some computers in your organization may be 7 years old or even older. Your staff member estimates there is 15 minutes of downtime every day because their computer’s processor is old.

The staff member makes $40,000/year which translates to $19.23 per hour.

The time spent waiting for the report to finish costs $1,250 a year, which is $19.23 per hour for 65 hours of downtime over the year.

A new computer with a mid-level processor costs $1,000. If we expect the computer to have a useful life of 4 years, the cost of the computer is accrued on the income statement for $250 per year.

Now compare the cost of unproductive staff time to purchasing a new computer.

Not only does the investment in current equipment make sense from a cost-benefit point of view, it also has a positive intrinsic value with staff morale, who aren’t frustrated every day working on a slow computer.

Let’s consider another scenario:

Your organization sends a bi-monthly newsletter to your donors. For this example, we’ll look past the time spent writing the newsletter and focus only on the delivery of the newsletter to your donors.

Your development director prints 300 newsletters in the office at a cost of $30. Volunteers are scheduled to come in to insert and label the newsletter in envelopes. The development director sorts the envelopes by zip code, fills out the bulk mail form, and then takes the mail to the business entry unit at the post office.

The development director makes $50,000/year - $24.04/hour. Each mailing takes the development director 20 hours, including time to print the materials and labels, confirm the volunteers, set up the mailing, and take the mail to the post office.

The development director’s time is worth $481 + the $30 for in-house supplies. However, a local printer charges only $300 to print, stuff and mail each newsletter.

You may already be thinking “But we’re already paying the staff. You’re talking about spending extra money we don’t have.”

As a former chief executive, I understand that thinking. This is not about “extravagance.” This fundamentally comes down to how you value your staff. The question I would offer is this, “what revenue-generating activity could that development director spend 20 hours on that no one else can?”

What if the development director spent 20 hours securing twenty new donors at an average of $100 a piece? In this scenario, the organization would be giving up $1,700 in new donations to save $300 in additional expense. Over the six mailings, the annual impact is giving up $10k in new donations to save less than $2k in expense.

I would be happy to help you explore how to invest in resources for your staff within your organization’s financial means.

There are three ways we can connect.

  1. Make sure to follow me and Nave Strategies on LinkedIn

  2. If you prefer to get tips and advice through email, sign up to receive my updates at Scroll to the bottom of the homepage, and submit the form.

  3. If you have a question about your unique circumstance, direct message me through LinkedIn with that question. I’ll make sure to get back to you.

One final thought - Your team having the right balance of resources available to them is the difference between your organization surviving and your organization thriving. Let me know if I can help your team get there.

I look forward to hearing from you, and thanks for watching!


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