Why Efforts to Hire and Maintain the Best Staff Can Be Critical for Nonprofits

While a well-seasoned and dedicated staff can be a terrific resource for any business, hiring the right professional to fill a position can be an even more important concern for nonprofits. Lacking the funds and additional resources of their commercial counterparts and competitors can place many nonprofits at a distinct disadvantage. By addressing the issues and specific problems that those employed by a nonprofit are most likely to encounter, employers may be able to minimize turnover and transform their existing staff into their greatest asset. Drive, Dedication and Vision Professionals whose ambition only extends to themselves can a major liability for nonprofits. Without the need to build value for their shareholders, nonprofit organizations must rely on their staff to provide them with the vision and drive they need to be effective. Pairing workers who are dedicated to an idea that is greater than themselves with an organization able to provide them with the agency needed to make a difference can be of paramount importance, especially for nonprofits who have suffered from lackluster performance or that may have begun to stagnate. Generating Momentum and Inertia Internally

Employees, workers and professional associates who are able to generate the momentum needed to enact real and lasting change are often the heart of any successful nonprofit. The conventional business models that are so often utilized by commercial businesses place often place the bulk of their focus on the mid and upper-level managers and supervisors who are tasked with creating and implementing new policies. Nonprofits stand to benefit by shifting their focus to the workers who do the actual heavy lifting and who take on the more mundane day to day tasks. Dedicated workers can provide their employers and organizations with the momentum and inertia they need in order to continue operating effectively.

Going the Extra Mile Finding employees who are willing to go the extra mile can be a difficult proposition for any organization that lacks the funds and financial resources needed to provide a more competitive salary. Individuals who are committed to reaching loftier goals or unlocking their full professional for reasons that extend beyond mere financial reward are not a resource that nonprofits can afford to take lightly. A little extra effort is often the missing component when it comes to finding solutions to a stubborn problem or overcoming an obstacle that might otherwise end up limiting other opportunities and future success. Workers who are determined to keep their organization going and employers who need their employees to give it their all both need to understand the value of going the extra mile. Optimizing Existing Resources Having to make due with shortages of finances and other key resources is often a concern that is all too familiar to many nonprofit organizations. While boosting efficiency and finding ways to curb waste can help commercial organizations to enjoy greater profitability, such efforts are often essential for ensuring the very survival of a nonprofit. Whether it’s finding the best accounting software for nonprofits in order to ensure more accurate bookkeeping or identifying the ways in which financial resources may be best utilized, making the most of their existing resources is a concern that organizations would do well to prioritize. Long-term Success Begins During the Hiring Process A nonprofit is only as good as its employees and being able to identify the right fit or a good match often means a great deal. For employers, educating prospective employees and applicants regarding the nature of nonprofit work is often a smart move. Applicants, candidates and even unpaid volunteers who wish to see their organization succeed need to recognize that their passion, aspiration and drive can often be just as important as any skills or expertise they may bring to the table. Cultivating the right staff and making the most out of their existing employees can allow organizations to more easily overcome the obstacles created due to limited funds and resource scarcity.

4 Free Computer Programs all Social Workers Need to Use

Let’s talk a little about free…it happens to be one of my favorite words. Free parking, I live in LA, Free Willy,  and most people’s favorite free money.  A common excuse I hear when I ask other social workers why they don’t know how to use a specific piece of software is, “It’s too expensive.”, and I am sure you have felt the same way.  Another I hear is, “It’s too hard to learn or I didn’t go to college for that.”.

Here is some free money, if you were to buy the consumer version of these programs it would cost you close to $1000! That is one licence each for a computer. These computer programs which will enhance your own practice and/or the organizations you work for, completely for free! They even come with free handy tutorials to go with them!

For your convenience I have hyper-linked the software’s homepage in each of their respective names.

1.OpenOffice Calc: Spreadsheet program

pieOpenOffice Calc is part of  Apache OpenOffice, which is a suite of software much like Microsoft Office, but free. As most people know how to use a word processing program and understand its value instead lets focus on something most people do not know how to use which is a spread sheet program. Programs like Excel and Calc can be alien and daunting at first glance but with the right tutorial they are manageable. So, what can you do with a program like this?

Administrative functions, which many of us will have to do are made significantly easier with this program. You can track client information, track client outcomes, keep notes on client; on the more macro side of social work you can keep track of donations, organize and analyze hours for volunteers. You get the idea and I am sure you can think of more things.

The most important function of these programs are the formula, all of which can be easily learned. At sites like this: Tutorial  and if you forget what you learned you can always check out the wiki.

These functions allow you to do things that might otherwise take you hours to do in seconds. More importantly they do it without errors. (Note: if you don’t mess up the formula and your data is good)

A good example; you are being reviewed by your boss and they want to know how many of your clients missed their therapy appointments and why. Fancy you kept a spread sheet with all of that data. You can then use a formula to count the days missed and list the reasons why for each client. You can even set up a pie chart that indicates why.

For those more macro social workers out there, say you are getting donations and you wonder where people are hearing about your program. So you  use a the “filter” function to sort out all the zip codes of your donors and pull for you the ones that occur the lowest and the highest. Then you can tell where you need to focus more of your effort  to get more donations!

These are simple ways of using an otherwise ignored piece of software. The best part is, you can save money for yourself and your organization by having them switch to OpenOffice from microsoft products.

2.GIMP : Free graphic design program

We have all heard of Photoshop. Well GIMP is photo shop but free. I will keep this short and simple, you need to learn this because:

10,000 Hours in MS paint vs. 20 Minutes in GIMP

Which one would you rather have potential donors, clients and staff members see?

Even if you only learn the simplest functions on this software you can drastically improve the forms, advertisement and website that your organization uses. Most organizations can’t afford to hire a graphic designer and you don’t really need one to create an intake form or flyer for your next fund-raiser. Appearance is key though, a professional looking advertisement will garner more and higher donations and attendance then one that looks like it was made with crayons.

GIMP has easy it use tutorials , and a great community of people who will help you. That being said, many of the same functions that work in Photoshop also work in GIMP.

3.Freemind :The free way to free your mind

Do you remember when you were young and your teacher or parent said, “Write down you ideas it will make it easier to think about?” Well that is what Freemind is for. Imagine that you could lay down all your ideas, with sub idea, with even more sub ideas and even more sub ideas. You get the point.

Free mind is useful for a whole variety of purposes, from reorganizing your own ideas to helping clients get a better grasp on their own goal. Free mind can help you structure just about anything and get a grasp on ideas that might be just a little too big for paper. This article was written using Freemind!

You can learn to use Freemind from their website, with a simple tutorial on the main page. While freemind is not as easy to use as some similar software, it is free.

 4. PDF-XChange Pro2012: PDF reader

One of the best PDF readers out there, great if you are a social worker or social work student looking up evidence based practices. Many of which are in pdf form and contain strange characters that normal PDF readers cannot understand. This software can recognize most characters as well as let you note the PDF yourself. Over all something that all social workers need.

The bummer part is that the free version wants to install a toolbar, use caution when installing this software and ensure that you avoid the toolbar!

Note: Before Downloading any software to your computer ensure that it is from a site you trust.

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