Great Mission, Great Ideas, No Bandwidth?

stress from no bandwidth

Does your not-for-profit organization suffer from “great mission, great ideas, but no bandwidth?” Your board of directors is dynamic, engaged and committed. There is enthusiasm and a million ideas set to launch. Great. But who is going to do the work?

Implementation requires manpower. Someone must do the work to bring the idea to reality. And too often the paid staff – the director and any support employees – are already overwhelmed with existing initiatives and just keeping up with daily demands. Ideas are great, but who will actually have time to do the real work?

The board needs to plan for the resources – the funding and hours – to implement new initiatives and directives. There are multiple options for this.

  • Hire additional staff. If there are available funds, and if the project is of great importance and/or will be sufficiently profitable, hiring interim staff support is a viable option.
  • Let board members implement the project. If the board is highly committed to the project, board members can assume responsibility for both leadership and implementation.
  • Recruit volunteer staff. Volunteers from outside the board may be recruited to implement the project. Time and effort will be required to solicit, train, coordinate and oversee the volunteers. Board members may serve as the leadership team for the volunteers. It should not be assumed that the director or paid staff will have the bandwidth to do this.
  • Restructure the project. Sometimes a project can be adapted to require fewer resources and fewer hours to implement. This may enable existing staff and engaged board members to launch and sustain the project.
  • Say “No.” There may be a thousand good ideas. Not all of them can be implemented. The board along with the executive director, needs to prioritize and select the best.
  • Take something off the plate. Often there are projects, initiatives and activities which are not contributing to the mission, or which are inefficient. Removing these or restructuring these may create enough capacity for a new project to be launched.

To sustain and thrive, a not-for-profit organization needs to innovate, and seek and implement new ideas. The board is one crucial source for these new ideas and initiatives. But the board also must ensure that the resources, including manpower, are there to effectively implement those ideas. Even the most outstanding staff has limited capacity. And an organization with “great ideas, no bandwidth” will see those ideas die on the vine.

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