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Resources to power Not-For-Profits – People First Solutions

Posted in Visions by Ferne Edwards on November 20th, 2007

Below is a statement by Martin J. Cowling, CEO and Founder of People First Solutions, an organisation whose mission is “to assist not-for-profits to succeed in mobilising their people through our training, consultancy and coaching services”. This editorial was posted in the People First Newsletter. Visit their website to join the mailing list at

Martin J. Cowling:
“In response to my expression of frustration at a client’s lackadaisical approach to a project (staff not briefed, materials not ready, etcetera), my client turned to me and said, “This is the not-for-profit sector. Why do you expect so much?”.

I responded by saying that NFP’s (ie. Not For Profits) can be as professional, if not more so, than commercial organisations. She countered by saying, “I used to feel that but I know now that I don’t need to push myself.”

Sorry, a half hearted approach in the 21st century won’t cut it with donors, government authorities, auditors, or clients.

The community are demanding organised workplaces that are every bit as efficient as the ones they left behind. Recently I spoke with a supervisor working with a not-for-profit who said, “Inefficiency in our sector is unjustified because every dollar we waste is a dollar that our clients miss out on.”

There are five concerns I see in some not-for-profits:
1. No strategy – not clear of mission or how it will be achieved
2. Overreaching – Trying to do too much with limited resources and not achieving success in key areas
3. Communication – informing and inspiring stakeholders
4. Inadequate human resources Not investing in paid staff or volunteers
5. Lack of evaluation Programs, employees and volunteers need to be regularly assessed

I believe to do more with less the sector must invest wisely in these key areas. This sector can never duplicate the financial resources of the commercial sector but the outcomes we can achieve with less are magnificent.

This is the passion that led me to set the company up four years ago and continues to drive our desire to help create effective people, better organisations and stronger society.”

For more information about People First Solutions, visit

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