A quote tonight as I was reading transported me back to a brown bag meeting earlier today. In a chapter on temptations, Claiborne and Wilson-Hartgrove write in Becoming the Answer to Our Prayers:
And if the tempter can’t steal our soul, perhaps he will just keep us busy with “important” work that pulls us away from community, reconciliation and living.
My meeting today? An introduction to the new Form 990 — the IRS form for nonprofits. The meeting wasn’t bad. Actually, it could have been excruciating, but its briefness and relevance made it quite useful, practical and helpful as a social benefit org [formerly known as a “nonprofit org”] manager.
I’m a fan of the changes in the 990. Not a fan of the extra work, but a fan of the attempts at increased transparency and outcomes. (I’m also excited about this future change!) It’s important that social benefit orgs do good work, are fiscally responsible and really make a contribution to society that is the basis of our tax-exemptedness.
The quote jumped at me because it describes how I’ve spent so much of my time over the past several months. I’ve been overwhelmed doing the “important” work of making sure this and that managerial piece is in place– employment policies and contracts, board reporting, applications, and paperwork. Today’s presentation showed me (and a roomful of us) the other things we were lacking: whistle-blower policies and 990 review committees, just to get started.
As social benefit orgs grow, so does the “important” work. My goal the last two months of 2008 was to get much of the “important” things done so I could focus on Important work in 2009. I didn’t make it…now, it seems, there’s more. It’s time to get it done…or find someone else to do it– any takers?
I’m ready to get back to community, reconciliation and living.