DO MORE AND DO IT MORE EFFICIENTLY
By John Berry, Chief Executive Officer, St. Vincent de Paul Georgia
Last week I was in Rome, Italy with representatives of the over 200 branches of the Vincentian organization from 150 countries around the world. Our discussion centered on the 400 years of service that the organization in its many forms has provided to people around the world, and how we can be better at what we do, how we do it, and how we can be even more effective in serving the needs of the poor across the globe.
One of the areas of discussion centered on a theme that is common to most of us involved in the nonprofit sector, and the business and government sectors for that matter. How can we do more, and do it more effectively. That is a challenge we all face and will continue to face.
For an organization as large and far reaching in scope and depth, with a mission internationally of serving the poor, the following five thoughts are truly applicable in helping us address that challenge. I share them because I think they can be applied, with some modification and customization, to all organizations desiring to do more, more effectively.
First, work more collaboratively inside the organization. This is often called breaking down internal silos. For multi-function, multi-location organizations this can be especially important. Working together internally on program and service development and improvement is critical. All too often we, especially leadership, look at how we can improve organizational relationships externally and we fail to put enough focus on internal processes. I think this is especially true in the nonprofit sector where continuous improvement, benchmarking, and other forms of traditional business self-improvement initiatives are less used.
Second, work with others. We all know this as ‘collaboration’. But when we look at collaboration we need to ensure that our goals are to provide services in areas that need exists, not necessarily to just make us more effective in areas where we are already working. Collaborations should exist for the purpose of making ‘two plus two equal five’. Collaborations should be focused on solving problems that can be solved together, but not alone.
Third, work smarter. Continuous learning, research, and keeping up with current thinking is critical to organizations staying at the forefront of trends and changes in the landscape in which they work.
Fourth, inspire the world’s heart for the poor – or for whatever your mission may be. Tell stories, use facts, correct misconceptions. In today’s unsettled political and social climate it is critical that those of us who serve the poor and marginalized in society be their voice.
Finally, make sure that traditions are passed on. For the Vincentian Family, we have a 400 year history that goes back to the first efforts of a young Priest in France who’s commitment and passion to serve the poor created what we are today. We need to make sure that the spirituality and passion that lit that fire 400 years ago never goes out. What is your organization’s tradition, passion, and history? Make sure that people know it, your volunteers, donors, and stakeholders know it, and all who support you embrace it.