Our job at Washington State PTA is two-fold. We advocate at the state level on behalf of our members as directed in the principles, issues, and resolutions that are approved by the membership. We also support, train, and empower the members and volunteer leaders of local and council PTAs to fulfill their mission of advocating on behalf of their students in their schools and districts. I find this to be an elegant and clear mission for a nonprofit organization.
It gets more difficult, though, when money is factored in. There is a saying in the nonprofit management world, “No Money, No Mission.” A nonprofit organization is a business first, and like any business it needs money to operate. For a business to be successful, even a nonprofit, you have to charge more for a product or service than it costs you to create it. And, not only do you have to cover your costs, you want to have some money in the bank. As we have learned all to well in the past couple of years, a prudent reserve is not only sensible, it is critical.
This gets messy when you are unable to strike a balance between running the business and fulfilling your mission. If a nonprofit organization spends all of its time and energy on its mission, the doors will close when both the coffers and the volunteers are exhausted. Contrariwise, a nonprofit that ignores its mission and focuses just on running the business will alienate its stakeholders. Donors, members, volunteers, and others will walk away and find a better way to spend their money and time.
As a nonprofit leader, you will want to ask yourself these questions:
- Is our organization focused on and fulfilling our purpose and mission? If not, what do we need to do differently?
- Is our volunteer team large enough to run the business and fulfill our purpose and mission? Do we need to recruit more volunteers? How do we keep our volunteers engaged and refreshed?
- Do we have the income necessary to keep our business alive? Do we have enough funds to fulfill our mission and vision? If not, how do we increase our revenue and manage our expenses?
- Do we have a prudent reserve to cover us in case of an emergency? If not, how much should that be and how to do you accumulate it?
If you have a mission to fulfill, you need the resources to do so. If you need help figuring out how to do this, join us for WSPTACon2022 coming up in May. It will be great to see you there!
Andrew L. Estep
WSPTA Executive Director