As the Canadian economy faces the challenges of a downturn, the role of human services becomes vital, particularly for nonprofit organizations. Economic recessions can lead to the following:
As a result, individuals and communities turn to human services for support. But when large volumes of people need the same help, yet financial support dwindles, strategic approaches and collaborative efforts are needed to ensure the well-being of Canadian citizens.
The economic landscape in Canada has seen its share of fluctuations, with recessions affecting diverse sectors and communities alike. Most notably, according to the Financial Post, major Canadian banks' stock prices have dropped due to the worsening economic outlook. Even though human services may not directly receive funding from banks, this financial setback could still indirectly impact them. Let's consider the reasons why.
Recessions often lead to a decrease in available funds. During the Great Recession, total social sector revenue saw a significant decline. Nonprofit organizations might receive funding from foundations, many with assets invested in the financial markets. An economic recession can reduce the value of these investments, resulting in smaller grants from those foundations. Additionally, banks tightening lending standards can make securing loans more difficult for for-profit entities. As a result, an economic recession can create a highly competitive environment for limited resources.
To make matters worse, a recession typically increases demand for human services. More individuals and families require assistance with basic needs such as food, housing, and healthcare. With reduced funding, it may be even more challenging for organizations to meet the growing service demand. It is essential to recognize this pattern and proactively prepare for the surge in demand by:
These are all crucial strategies for human services to navigate these challenges.
Partnerships with other organizations can be beneficial during a recession. Together, they can share resources, knowledge, and expertise, enabling them to pool their efforts and provide comprehensive support even in challenging economic conditions. Collaborative approaches can also enhance advocacy efforts and increase collective influence.
While the COVID-19 pandemic wasn't the result of a recession, its aftermath in job loss and mental health issues are similar. Many human services partnered with other nonprofit organizations during that time to provide relief. Here are a few collaborative partnerships that helped during this challenging time:
Relying on a single funding stream can make human services more vulnerable during a recession. To mitigate this risk, use a variety of different funding sources. Below are some ideas:
Government agencies at the local, provincial, and national levels often provide grants for human services. Contact Human Services (HHS) or the Canadian Social Development Department for grant opportunities.
Private foundations offer grants to support various causes, including human services. Canada.Grant.Watch, or FoundationSearch Canada, provide searchable databases of foundations and their grant opportunities.
Nonprofit Grant Directories
Online grant directories and databases provide comprehensive listings of grants available to organizations. Imagine Canada's Grant Connect allows searching for assistance based on criteria such as focus area, location, or funding amount.
Access to different funding sources can ensure financial stability and reduce reliance on a single funding stream that may be affected by economic downturns.
Organizations need to use their limited resources wisely while proving their effectiveness. By emphasizing outcome measurement, they can prove their value and efficacy to funders and stakeholders.
Also, they need to identify their high-value-impact areas within their assessment. These metrics build a compelling case for continued funding, support, and strategic resource allocation. Additionally, they can yield significant cost savings by reallocating resources from less effective departments.
In times of economic uncertainty, human service organizations are crucial in providing support, fostering resilience, and promoting well-being in Canadian society. By recognizing the potential impact of economic downturns and adopting proactive strategies, they can better navigate the challenges and demands of recessionary periods. It is imperative to harness this knowledge, leverage available resources, and encourage collaboration to continue providing essential services to those in need.
Investing in a modern Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system can help enable better decision-making, and that's what human service organizations need during challenging times. For one organization, an ERP allowed them to report back to their funders and demonstrate the positive impact that funding had on their outcomes. Read their story here. This proof of efficacy is vital to maintaining continuity in funding for years.
As we embrace the challenges and opportunities within the human services sector, our commitment to empowering organizations to weather economic downturns and meet the growing demands of communities across Canada remains steadfast. By fostering collaboration, diversifying funding sources, and prioritizing effectiveness, Sparkrock 365 stands alongside human services organizations, enabling them to deliver essential support and make a meaningful difference in the lives of Canadian citizens.
Together, we can navigate the complexities of uncertain times and build a more resilient and compassionate future.
We want to help you prepare for challenging economic times and are happy to share what we've learned about your industry. An Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Tool can help provide accurate financial insights and help you evaluate your organization's performance with less effort.
Let us take you through the benefits of a fully-integrated, single platform for financial management, human resources, scheduling, payroll, and the key features we've built to help human services thrive. Reach out to us here.
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.
Is your school district at risk of losing its valuable educators?
According to a recent survey, a staggering 65% of educators have been actively browsing other job opportunities in the past year. In normal times, district leadership would find that unsettling. During an unprecedented teacher shortage?
Employee expectations are on the rise. Workforce expectations shifted dramatically, and now employees want more from their employers. In a post-pandemic world, more people are asking for:
And yet, schools are constrained by contracted salaries, limited funding for perks, and zero flexibility when it comes to the time and place of work. With these limitations and soaring student behavioral issues, teachers feel drained and overwrought, all significant contributors to a toxic workplace.
So what can be done to meet rising employee expectations?
The solution is simple: Improve the employee experience.
Many people still believe that employee experience is all about perks, but it's much more than that. It's about communication, culture, being heard, and being supported professionally and personally. Improving the employee experience will increase:
These things aren't only on the minds of employees. Teacher recruitment, staff well-being, and retention are top priorities for K-12 human resources professionals. The Director of Human Resources is integral to the functioning of the school district. They can be one of the most influential in improving the employee experience by helping leaders shift from a transactional to a human-first approach.
Here are three ways that the Director of HR can improve employee experience:
Communication is vital to building trust and respect in the workplace. HR has an essential role in creating a welcoming and inclusive work environment. The Director of HR can facilitate relationship-building with employees by engaging in personalized employee experience conversations.
These conversations can help HR:
An intentional plan for how the conversation will proceed will make the discussion productive. For example, HR could initiate the conversation by acknowledging the employee's contributions to the school district. This discussion can be followed by exploring the employee's interests in professional growth. Finally, the Director of HR can collaborate with the employee on a plan to support them with necessary resources and follow-up conversations.
Meaningful, transparent communication will build trust and respect between staff and central administration. In turn, fostering a culture of trust and respect will positively impact the overall school environment.
An engaged workforce is more likely to be:
But how do you boost engagement when teachers have never been more exhausted? The answer is prioritizing employee recognition. Recognizing staff members' contributions and hard work can help them feel valued and motivated to strive for excellence.
Though well-intentioned, recognition must be more than just an all-staff email appreciation or an assembly shout-out. It needs to be timely, specific, and authentic.
Teachers and school staff frequently work outside contracted hours and support their students by attending games, concerts, musicals, and other extracurricular activities. In-person or handwritten acknowledgments of these efforts are highly effective. Writing a personalized thank-you note or showing gratitude in person can go a long way in boosting morale.
San Diego Unified School District created a successful employee recognition program, a platform that allows teachers to receive awards from their peers, administrators, and even parents. This strategy allowed them to promote a culture of appreciation and recognition that benefited both employees and the district.
Recognizing and acknowledging the contributions of staff members will help prevent burnout. It can also increase their motivation to continue going above and beyond for their students.
87% of millennials rate "professional or career growth and development opportunities" as important to them in a job. And yet, more than half of districts do not provide or offer teachers coursework to improve their teaching. A Director of HR that prioritizes opportunities for professional growth will have a more profound impact on employee experience.
HR directors can provide professional development support by offering opportunities for ongoing learning, such as:
In addition to offering training opportunities, the HR Director can provide instructional coaching to help teachers improve their teaching techniques and classroom management skills. An example can be pairing teachers with experienced mentors who can offer feedback, guidance, and support. Coaching programs can be delivered through professional learning communities, where teachers can collaborate with peers and learn from others' experiences.
Schools can also look to other districts for inspiration on how they provide professional development programs. The Los Angeles Unified School District provides teachers with access to resources such as workshops, seminars, and online courses that help them stay up-to-date on best practices in teaching. This district also offers mentorship opportunities with experienced educators who can guide them in improving their teaching skills. By providing these resources, LAUSD has fostered an environment of growth and learning for its teachers.
HR directors can also encourage staff growth by creating a culture of continuous improvement and upskilling. By fostering an environment where educators feel comfortable taking risks and trying new strategies, HR directors can promote a growth mindset that encourages staff to improve their skills and knowledge continually.
Employees want to know that their input is valued and considered. It's evident to educators when district leaders are talking the talk but not walking the walk.
Show employees you're committed to improving employee experience by:
Building a great employee experience within an organization requires the right modern technology. This is where an ERP system comes into play. By leveraging the power of data, particularly in the HR module of an ERP system, organizations can unlock valuable insights that contribute to their understanding of employees' needs, preferences, and performance.
With the ability to collect and analyze employee data, including demographics, compensation details, performance evaluations, training history, and attendance records, an ERP system equips organizations with the necessary tools to make informed decisions. By harnessing the potential of this technology, organizations can implement targeted strategies, foster a positive work environment, boost employee engagement, and ultimately drive overall organizational success.
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 K-12s thrive.
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?
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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!