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I admit it. I recently watched an episode of “Tidying Up,” Marie Kondo’s new reality series about home organizing and I found it compelling. Participants sorted through all of their belongings to recognize and focus on what they truly loved and get rid of the rest.

I wonder about applying this strategy at work. What would work feel like if we were able to focus more time and attention on the tasks that spark joy, the tasks that relate to our missions?

For myself at the Nonprofit Centers Network, I recognize that what really floats my boat is working with organizations and communities interested in sharing space, services, time, and knowledge. I see how these innovative strategies allow organizations to access necessary resources, run more efficiently, be more impactful, and develop a greater focus on mission.

Conversely, what sparks my anxiety is bookkeeping.

Don’t get me wrong – I love looking at financial statements and Form 990s and trying to understand an organization’s relationship with money. I also enjoy creating financial models for organizations developing social purpose real estate, shared space or shared services. I don’t like spending time coding accounting entries. Which leads to one of the reasons that I’m so thankful that NCN is fiscally sponsored by TSNEMissionWorks, an organization with many staff members whose joy is sparked by bookkeeping and other back-office tasks.

More NCN member organizations are similarly engaging in fiscal sponsorship, joint contracting, management service organization contracts, and other connective strategies to share back office services and focus on the mission-related tasks. The NCN team will be writing more about these shared service models in our upcoming series, Rethinking Overhead, to be released later this spring.

For now I’m curious… if your organization were able to lessen the load of one back-office job function what would it be… and what mission-related tasks would you focus on instead? Could shared back office services help to spark more joy in your organization?

About Our Blogger:

Jackie Cefola manages the consulting services and shared service offerings of The Nonprofit Centers Network (NCN). Since 2011, she has consulted with NCN clients to achieve meaningful impact through collaboration, co-working, and shared administrative services. Previously, as program manager for the NonProfit Center, a 110,000 square foot multi-sector center in Boston, she helped to develop the center’s many co-working spaces and collaborative programs. She also co-authored NCN’s Guide to Shared Services and facilitated numerous training sessions. She holds an MBA and a Masters degree in Environmental Management from Yale University, where she first learned about industrial ecology and strategies for organizations to intentionally co-locate and share resources. In spare time Jackie volunteers to help collect and distribute clothing and furniture to newly housed families.

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