ACCJ talk on nonprofits and CSR - Top-ten list

On April 20, 2007 I went to a breakfast meeting coordinated by the ACCJ CSR committee. The presenter was the founder and chief person behind the organization Room to Read, who introduced his top-ten list for nonprofits and CSR

Below is the list with some of my own comments:
1. Have an ambitious goal
* Good point - we need to challenge our selves to aim high and encourage others to see that things can change
2. Short-term fix vs. long-term solutions
* while it is still necessary to provide emergency assistance – more and more nonprofit NGOs realize we need to have long term plans to deal with on-going problems
3. Community co-investment
* Stakeholders need to be directly involved in program development
4. Strong local teams
* We need to develop local leadership so we are no longer necessary
5. Intense focus on results
* Measurement can be both qualitative and quantitative but outcomes need to be concrete; should not conflict with #2
6. Nonprofit NGO CSR message
* use the trend here in Japan to get support and develop more champions for your org
7. Entrepreneurial approach - dare to take a risk;
* Nonprofit leaders here are all entrepreneurs – we need to have the confidence and courage to promote this idea.
8. Economic efficiency matters
* Limited funds do not necessarily mean we use our funds well. Get a professional to handle the money.
9. Low overhead * He used the example of the UN range rovers – we do not have that issue here in Japan. But I do take issue with spending nonprofit funds for social events and parties
10. How expensive is the model of change - i was a bit distracted during this bit i think this referred to getting investment in change; using an investment ratehr than a donation model.

Many of these apply to groups everywhere – but I do think US organizations can be too business-like and miss the boat in the mission and community embeddedness category which is why I want to revise this list later but now add a few more:

  1. Mission as the focal point - staying true to your mission must be at the core of all activities
  2. Local collaboration and embeddedness in communities - leads to not only longer lasting results but also to starting off on the right foot.
  3. Principles are necessary – nonprofit need to develop their own criteria for assessing which companies or organizations they will take money or assistance from.
  4. Be proactive not reactive – this means knowing “your stuff” and strategic planning, this also means we are more likely to succeed

It would have been useful if the local group actually prepped him on the situation in japan - there were a few comments that not appropriate and if taken to heart here could be damaging. ie. about mgore volunteers and less paid staff. The avearge FTE here is 1.2 so we are using volunteers to the hilt. Or about not necessarily needing support for staff or org costs. We already have that problem here and do not need any one to tell companies that we do not need money for staff or overhead.

i will try to edit my own top ten list later ....


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