I have been helping with a number of startups.
- Kingdom Channels
- Began as bookkeeper and learned QBO by reverse engineering.
- Identified the need for a fuller CRM and set up Kindful for donation and contact management.
- Identified the need and led the adoption of Microsoft Teams and SharePoint for systematizing our file storage and communication.
- Identified needs for a more robust database for relating to staff, trainees, and churches. Oversaw design and implementation of a new database in sync with Kindful and custom apps built through the Microsoft Power Platform.
- Anabaptist Perspectives
- Local businesses
- Wellspring Mennonite Church
- Treasurer duties
- Church website
Get software for your needs.
Software, especially software as a service, feels expensive. Staff time is expensive. (And volunteer time is equally precious.) Software that will do what you need it to do is important. Cobbled together solutions are a real liability and changing software solutions later can be a real pain. My story with Anabaptist Perspectives exemplifies that pain.
On accounting we went from a simple spreadsheet, to personal finance software, to Aplos as combined accounting and donor software, to Quickbooks and separate donor software, still using Gusto for payroll.
We have processed online donations through Paypal buttons, Donorbox, Aplos, CiviCrm, and GiveWP.
Some transitions are necessary as needs change, some come from initial ignorance of true needs, but other times software changes happen because we don’t want to spend the money on software as soon as we should and limp along too long.
Simplify, streamline, and build in procedures
What do you need to know? How easily can you know it? Does everyone know where something belongs? Does everyone know how something should be documented? A sprawling mess comes easily to an organization, especially one with multiple part timers and volunteers.
File organization, versioning, and record keeping, might not be the most exciting topics for entrepreneurs. But some creative discipline in all things data organizing can save enormous headaches.
Define procedures and administrative responsibilities for everyone
Most procedures and data organization require everyone to use it. Nobody is exempt from putting their work and records in the official system.
Maintain adequate secretarial support
Computers have changed a lot of things. Everyone can type, which makes dictating letters to secretaries unnecessary. Myriads of other tasks have been made easier by technology. But an organization still needs people to close the loops and keeps things flowing. Even with software, procedures, and holding everyone accountable, there is secretarial work to be done.
As one of my colleagues said, however good your system is, “It is always easier to use no system.” His point was that, we can’t just build systems we have to train users, and for more complicated processes, we may need one person in charge of the system and managing the checklists.
Multiple mindsets are needed for secretarial and operational purposes. Even if someone could do both, it is hard to be tuned into both at one time. Secretarial and administrative matters require their own dose of wisdom and the filling of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 6). Happy is the organization that recognizes this early.
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