Welcome to the Axom for Nonprofits Blog!
In my first year as the Executive Director of a 25 year old organization that had just lost its largest funding source, I had to get up to speed on a dizzying number of subjects in a short period of time. The prior ED resigned under challenging circumstances, so there was no transition period. We were lucky enough to have some money in reserves, but at our current rate of spending the organization wouldn't make it through the school year. Over the course of what ended up being one of the most challenging years of my career, I had to restructure and lay off part of the staff (including a manager who had been one of my teachers in elementary school), hire an entirely new group of employees for a day program for high school students with behavior issues, fix a toilet, learn Quickbooks, fundraise and write grants, take over the management of our server and 40 computers when our IT provider was arrested, call the police with marijuana on my desk that was confiscated from a student, and identify a staggering number of infectious diseases. (Yes, that is definitely ringworm.) Did you know bedbugs can live in wall outlets? I do now.
In our rural service area, ED salaries were all over the map, and there were full time EDs in the area making as little as $32,000/year (about $15/hour) who were expected to have a degree, manage a staff, and handle the finances of their organizations. Even with 20 or so employees, our organization wasn't big enough and our grants wouldn't support the cost of dedicated positions like a full time bookkeeper, HR IT, or program supervisor, so as we downsized, I was responsible for those things. I remember being on my way to my grandmother's funeral and getting a text from an employee that the internet wasn't working in the office.
So if you've found your way here as a leader in a smaller nonprofit organization, I say all of this because I see you, and I know a bit about the challenges facing organizations that are new, small, rural, or just trying to save the world on a tight budget. There are a lot of resources available for nonprofits, but I wanted to offer a place that focused on the unique needs of smaller organizations like these. I've been working with nonprofits for more than fifteen years as an attorney, a grant writer, and as an ED, so I'm happy to share with you the experience I've gained along the way, and to introduce some of the many interesting people I've met along the way. Welcome!