The Whole Job

Commit to doing the whole job

Your nonprofit has specific functions and processes, as well as regulations it must follow. You spend and control cash, acquire facilities and equipment, hire and train a diverse team, manage information and much more. Sometimes you can fill gaps and create efficiencies by leveraging volunteer expertise, seeking opportunities for collaboration, or sharing back-office operations. All are effective ways to strengthen your nonprofit while reducing administrative costs. A weakness in any operational area can negate successes in others. Over time, without all the parts functioning well, the entire organization will suffer. Commit to doing “the whole job.”

Face the elevator door

With shifting economic cycles, things happen that can help or hurt an organization. You need to prepare yourself to capitalize on an opportunity (the elevator door opening) regardless of where your nonprofit may be in its lifecycle or in implementing its strategic plan.

Investing in organizational capacity contributes to excellence and impact. Commit to doing “the whole job.”

Conversation Starter

The Whole Job

A complete set of conversation starters to accompany the chapter.


The Whole Job Toolkit

A complete set of tools to accompany the chapter.

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8 Practical Insights for Nonprofit Leaders


Culture matters. It’s a core organizational asset.


Respecting and trusting your people is the foundation of all good management.


Always listen for and even seek out signs of trouble. Bad news is good news if you do something about it.


Develop “court sense” to see everything that’s happening around you, and to rapidly adjust to changes.


Commit to doing “the whole job.” Investing in organizational capacity contributes to excellence and impact.


With limited time and resources, it’s essential to prioritize and then focus.


Planning is essential but success comes from the implementation of your ideas. “Book It and Ship It.” Make a decision and manage the consequences.


To create a culture of accountability, reinforce individual ownership of problems. Always ask, “Who owns the monkey?”

When working with nonprofits I often talk about the importance of managing “the whole job.”

Whether an organization sells a product or a service, it needs functions and processes that support the mission. It needs a system to spend and control cash; it needs facilities and some equipment; it needs human resources and a hiring process; and it needs a process to ensure quality. Nonprofits have numerous regulations to follow and extensive reporting requirements. A weakness in any one of those key functions could obliterate successes in the others. Without most of these in place, the organization won’t even get off the ground. Over time, without all of these functioning, an organization will inevitably crash.

You must understand and commit to doing the “whole job.”

  • Does your organization take on the whole job?
  • What parts of the job are you not paying enough attention to?


To learn more about doing the whole job, read this chapter from Applied Wisdom for the Nonprofit Sector.