James Hunter once said that for a business to thrive, it must have healthy relationships with the "CEOS" of the organization - not the Chief Executive Officers, but rather the
While nonprofits differ from businesses, they still require strong relationships to survive. Executive directors (EDs) prioritizing each of these relationships find greater success for their nonprofit.
An executive director is constantly asking:
"Is this action, person, or decision serving our organization's greatest good and mission?"
The success of a nonprofit's mission largely rests on its shoulders. Versatility is needed as they must manage many demands and carry out different tasks on any given day. They're in a constant state of securing, maintaining, and improving. EDs are responsible for the following:
They're managing more than just the daily operations too. They're also a leader and spokesperson, developing strategic plans to tackle issues effectively and ensure all activities remain focused on achieving their mission.
Effective EDs will be able to work collaboratively with a board of directors and executive committee while also advocating for the organization in the local community and beyond. They need to understand public policy, current trends, and best practices in their sector. These best practices reinforce the power of connectedness, for instance:
A skilled executive director is more than just passionate about their work. They set the tone and culture for their organization, build relationships with stakeholders, and ensure proper financial management. They're committed to transparency, accountability, and trust.
An essential skill for an ED is the ability to maintain focus despite constant interruptions. EDs are constantly pulled in different directions, with staff, board members, and donors all vying for their attention. It's easy for them to become consumed by the details of their organization, which can hinder their ability to have a broader perspective and implement innovative ideas.
That's why keeping a high level of organization is crucial in this role. It allows EDs to streamline their daily work while maintaining efficiency, despite the constant demands on their attention. Having a structured system in place can help with:
This ensures that nothing important falls through the cracks and is especially helpful in staying on top of deadlines, which are critical in their fundraising efforts. Missing a grant deadline or failing to follow up with potential donors is costly. So, being organized prevents these kinds of errors.
It's challenging to manage competing demands and input from board members, but effective board governance is critical for nonprofit leaders. Board members help maintain:
Many members have full-time jobs outside of an organization, which means that while they may have input during board meetings, they may need help to carry out tasks outside of them.
In Boardsource's Leading With Intent Report, executives should evaluate board expectations and time allocation to ensure adequate board governance. The three areas that need more focus are:
The best way for executive directors to navigate their internal hierarchy is to:
If EDs can do this, they'll create strong partnerships and lead their organization to success.
Fundraising is a crucial skill that nonprofit executive directors must possess. Limited government funding, unstable income, and inaccurate budgeting issues can make it difficult for nonprofits to plan for future growth or maintain current operations. Without a visionary, strategic fundraising strategy, they will struggle to stay afloat and achieve their mission.
Strong fundraising skills help EDs secure resources for the nonprofit's operations. This involves working with donors, developing grant proposals, and creating campaigns to nurture the organization's current and potential supporters. At the core of these initiatives are relationships and visibility. Maintaining healthy relationships fuels the financial health of nonprofits. With accurate financial data to power these relationships, nonprofits can bolster their position.
With real-time access to their organization's financial health, EDs can create intuitive plans for tracking and achieving their goals.
The Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution offers an all-in-one solution with multifunctional capabilities that are as cross-functional as an executive director. By efficiently managing various relationships and completing daily tasks, ERPs provide EDs with the organizational oversight they need to succeed. This allows them to increase productivity, fulfill responsibilities, and maximize their time on high-value tasks. According to BDO, executive directors can mitigate risk for their organization by aligning and leveraging technology to enhance stakeholder relationships, a critical best practice in nonprofit management.
Take, for example, The Canadian Museum of History. This nonprofit needed to implement an integrated financial and HR solution. The museum faced inefficient workflows, a lack of integration, and difficulty tracking financial data. But with Sparkrock 365's robust technology, the museum streamlined its financial processes, automated HR functions, and gained real-time visibility into its financial data. With sound financial management, EDs are empowered to find more sustainable opportunities for their organization.
The Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport struggled with manual data entry, lack of automation, and difficulty accessing real-time financial data. With Sparkrock's solution, the center was able to:
ERP solutions empower executive directors to make informed decisions for their nonprofits. Sparkrock 365 helps manage their focus, relationships, and fundraising efforts by offering a holistic view of their nonprofit operations. Real-time data enable directors to identify areas for improvement and allocate resources effectively. Understanding customer needs and preferences becomes easier through seamless integration with their customer relationship management system. And detailed fundraising reports enable executives to track progress and make targeted decisions for future programs.
To help plan your next technology investment, read the in-depth guide to our product, Sparkrock 365. Let us take you through the benefits of integrating HR management with finances, payroll, scheduling, and the key features we've built to help executive directors fulfill their nonprofit's mission.
Providence Child Development Society (Providence) has programs that support Canadian children with learning disabilities and developmental delays in Calgary, AB, Canada. They operate six preschools with kindergarten and offer community-based programs for young children. Combined, those programs serve over 1,600 children. Their mission is to work together with the child, family and community to support the well-being and development of all children.
Providence has expanded significantly over its 75 years in operation. With that growth comes challenges. One issue was an accounting system that could not keep up with all of their needs. As the central administration discussed possible changes, they asked themselves:
"What would it look like to have a system that can include finance, payroll, and human resources?"Masarra Smoka
Finance Manager, Providence
Smoka, who has been with the organization for four years, shares some of the problems Providence faced before implementing Sparkrock 365, including:
After conducting trials and demos of various accounting systems, the organization implemented Sparkrock 365. Sparkrock offered an all-in-one solution that seamlessly integrated payroll, HR, and finance departments.
By selecting Sparkrock 365, Providence knew that there would be:
In addition to improving integration between payroll, HR, and finance, Sparkrock 365 also provided comprehensive and easy-to-understand data, enabling in-depth analysis and better decision-making. Their organization now has access to real-time reports generated by Power BI and powerful visualizations that facilitate deeper insights into their operations.
The transition to Sparkrock 365 has significantly impacted the day-to-day operations at Providence. "Staff are excited to use the system as they were able to increase their learning as more resources are available to them, "Smoka expressed.
Some of the benefits of shifting to Sparkrock 365 have included:
One of the unexpected outcomes of implementing the system has been an increase in employee self-reliance and empowerment. Previously, when employees had questions, they would direct them to a specific department for clarity.
Today, Smoka has noticed that people are more willing to use the resources at their disposal, such as:
"Sparkrock 365 empowers employees and gives them more confidence in their role. It helps us as an organization because everyone is taking responsibility for their role, but they are also able to grow."Masarra Smoka
Finance Manager, Providence
In addition to professional growth, Sparkrock also offered the flexibility to scale up as the organization grows. They could easily add more user licences and manager review capabilities to accommodate expanding staff. The new system ensured they could remain future-focused and adapt to constantly changing needs.
Sparkrock 365 provided unparalleled training to ensure Providence maximizes its outcomes, including comprehensive onboarding procedures and self-paced learning resources.
At the start of implementation, Providence received personalized training sessions with consultants specializing in finance, payroll, and HR. The flexibility and availability of the consultants helped employees grasp the system's functionalities. Additionally, support teams were available post-implementation.
“Having that training was very valuable. Even after we went live, we had the support team that was available to answer any questions.”Masarra Smoka
Finance Manager, Providence
In addition to the initial implementation training, Sparkrock also provided a diverse array of self-paced learning resources. Providence had access to training materials, including articles and videos. “This helped my overall learning experience in understanding the system because it supplemented the training they already provided,” Smoka stated.
Eager to see how Sparkrock 365 can improve your organization’s workflow and increase productivity?
Contact Sales to learn more!
School district leaders understand the value of attending EdTech conferences. These conferences offer resources to help school districts meet their overarching strategic goals. Though sometimes costly and time-consuming, these conferences provide insights into cutting-edge technologies and vetted solution providers. Hearing from industry experts and networking with colleagues from other schools inspire administrators to address their district's unique needs with innovation.
While EdTech conferences can cut into a district leader's time and resources, they're still vital to helping schools reach their goals. That's why administrators need to plan out their EdTech conference attendance.
Careful preparation and coordination are necessary to get the most from these events. Data from your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system can help create the most intuitive plan. An ERP solution allows organizations to combine siloed applications and systems to:
ERPs can empower district administrators to attend educational conferences with more significant insights. This will ultimately benefit their school and align critical resources with their strategic goals. After all, better data leads to better outcomes.
In one study by Deloitte, organizations that use ERP systems saw improvements in efficiency, decision-making, and scalability. With this in mind, using an ERP to guide conference attendance can help districts become more efficient and effective in meeting their goals.
EdTech conferences can be overwhelming. Knowing where to focus attention can be tricky with many sessions, speakers, and vendors. School districts likely have specific goals they want to achieve from conference attendance, like addressing teacher burnout or improving student outcomes. Without validating these goals with data, conference attendance becomes scattered and disconnected.
An ERP system helps administrators refine their conference goals with insights into past performance metrics. This information makes spotting areas for improvement much more effortless. Once this happens, administrators can readily analyze data on
When seeking out viable solutions for their schools, administrators can now prioritize the sessions and vendors that can significantly impact their strategic goals.
District leaders often create impactful school-wide initiatives, but they can quickly become "top-down" approaches. When initiatives come from the top, no matter how well-intentioned or evidence-based they are, they can be met with resistance from teachers. Teachers are burnt out and want to feel supported. Educators want a seat at the table regarding decisions directly affecting their autonomy and pedagogy. An ERP system enables administrators to involve key stakeholders in decision-making by providing critical data, building consensus, and delivering positive results.
Here are four ways for districts to use their ERP to build better buy-in and solidify their goals:
Before attending any conferences, define what the district wants to achieve. Schools can use their ERP system to analyze data on performance indicators such as student achievement and teacher performance.
District leaders can develop a plan for attending conferences based on their overarching goals. After generating a report and identifying areas for improvement, match the program's vendors and presentations that best align with these goals. Plan out a specific schedule with questions for available solutions. Identifying sessions and vendors well in advance will ensure you can access insights and resources that best meet your district's needs.
Before making any purchase decisions, an ERP can help in better understanding resource allocation. An ERP system can determine any overlapping or duplicate resources and current adoption rates amongst staff members. After conferences, school administrators can use their ERP system to analyze the data collection. They can see how well different solution providers match the needs of their schools.
The administration can communicate with staff members about their conference attendance beforehand. In doing so, district leaders can receive input on what sessions and vendors would be most valuable to the classroom teachers and building principals. District leaders actively involving teachers and staff in the conference attendance process are more likely to develop a well-rounded and effective plan. Additionally, open communication can reduce resistance and ensure teachers feel supported in decision-making.
School administrators drive change based on the decisions they make. An ERP system helps them make the best decisions for their staff. Attending EdTech conferences is a wise investment for districts looking to improve student achievement and meet their strategic goals. By using an ERP solution to analyze data and make informed decisions, district leaders can maximize the value they receive from these events. This powerful needs-based and cost-saving tool allows administrators to confidently plan their conferences and make informed decisions about implementing new ideas and technology.
If you're new to Sparkrock 365, dive into our comprehensive guide to learn more about our K-12 optimized solution, built on Microsoft's cloud platform - Business Central. Discover how integrating HR management with finances, payroll, scheduling, and other key features can empower K-12 institutions to thrive. Explore the possibilities today!