Resource Management

For two years a small group of volunteers worked tirelessly to convert a former police/municipal building into a community Center for the Arts in my hometown of Nazareth, PA. The Borough agreed not to sell the building,  if they could accomplish this. The group agreed to pay rent and utilities along with all renovation costs. They were so focused on completing the conversion that they hadn’t planned any activity beyond the grand opening that took place last December.

It was at that time that I was asked to help organize them as a non-profit, schedule events, and get it going.

My immediate concern was scheduling events, followed closely by promoting them, and managing the limited finances. My mid-range concern was volunteer management.

As I’m planning for 2011, it is clear that resource management is the top concern. In thinking broader about this, resource management always ought to be the top concern, because you can pretty much lump everything into this big term including time, knowledge, and money.

The volunteer group was giving so much of themselves, both time and money, to make the Center a success that burnout was likely. Now it has come to fruition.

We conducted close to 100 events at the Center in its first year. We ultimately operated as a committee of the whole. I tried to use an executive committee with quarterly full board meetings and committees, but after the nine people involved had been so accustomed to being ‘in on everything’ all the time, after a couple months we reverted back to a monthly meeting.

Now, we need to go back to specialized committees even if they are armies of one. We’ve mapped out the critical needs and established a committee around each. We must next identify the leader of each of these, who will then recruit volunteers to help them. The goal is to divide the work, keep our core people in position, but assist them with new volunteers.

Financially, there are many needs, but I’ve encouraged patience until we can clear our biggest hurdle – winter and heating costs. Ideally, we’ll be able to begin to build a reserve fund, but until then we need to be as frugal as possible.

There are a variety of resources available to any manager. Identifying what you have and need via gaps, understanding each’s value and potential, and then utilizing your resources and adapting to changing situations is critical to resource management. When is the last time you looked at your resources and how they were being used? How close are your resources to being empty? Is it time for new resources? All great things to consider as the new year approaches.

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