Push ’em back, push ’em back, waaaay back!

A craze for mergers and consolidations among nonprofits appears every seven years or so, like locusts; but this current one has produced a byproduct new to the Nonprofiteer: a desperate search for someone to take on the back-office functions of the combined entity.  This is not the same as trying to find someone to handle leadership (see "Take My Nonprofit–Please," below) but nearly as difficult.

It’s not clear why it’s not economy enough just to have one bookkeeper instead of two, one data-base-entry person instead of two; but many charities are persuaded they don’t need full-time administrative assistance at all, and can get what they need on contract from a shop specializing in maintaining mailing lists and doing mailings, issuing checks and depositing withholding taxes.  And maybe they’re right.  Certainly corporate America seems to think outsourcing is the greatest thing since canned beer.  (It shouldn’t be as much of a savings to nonprofits, though: many of them weren’t paying employee benefits to begin with!)

But small nonprofits are finding that it’s easier to find a dedicated dogsbody than to find a management services firm interested in their business.  The consultant who takes as her niche the back-office functions of small nonprofits will be a very rich woman.  And, as a colleague pointed out, much of the work can be done remotely.

Say, from Sri Lanka?


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