Quaker A-Z: K is for Keep it Simple & Sustainable

keep things simple in scrabble tiles
Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash
Quakers have testimonies of both simplicity & sustainability. Like all testimonies, both should apply to all aspects of life – including administration!
Charities are usually run by volunteers, with occasional paid support for specific jobs. How do you ensure that your systems continue through the changes of role holders, volunteers, employees, etc.?
Friction between different parts of the organisation can arise during a changeover. Usually when knowledge and/or processes were not handed over. This results in groups needing to work together, but with very different knowledge and information levels.
Setting up a simple, yet effective, system to collate information and act as a “corporate memory” can sound both daunting and expensive, but it doesn’t have to be.

Making a simple plan

MBS has done this for many clients. We start with a simple set of tools:
  • Ways for people to talk to each other that are within the charity’s control.
  • Centralised data storage that is secure and has change controls. It is important that your data can’t be accessed and edited by just anyone. If unwanted changes are made, it is essential you can undo/fix them.
  • An agreed place to put a summary of your plan, and an outline of where people can store (and then find) information.

Putting it into action

One option for these could be:
  • Generic email accounts for all role holders, preferably attached to the charity’s domain.
  • A conversation function, either hosted within the charity’s tech bubble or by someone else.
  • Online storage linked to those accounts, or in another cloud based system.
  • Specified minutes, records, and notices to keep everyone up-to-date.
Whatever you are considering, you need to ensure that the systems are simple enough to explain easily to someone who isn’t technically savvy. The system should be sustainable enough to continue after you have finished your role. Creating a series of role descriptions so that everyone can see what skills are needed can be helpful in deciding if the system is simple and sustainable.

'The systems need to be there to release the energies of Friends in our meetings, the life of our meetings and the expressions of our concerns to make the world a better place.'

Another angle

Sustainability is often linked to the use of energy and resources. If you have an up-to-date and trustworthy storage system, everyone won’t need to hold their own copies of minutes, reports, papers, etc. We occasionally get asked if this is really a problem – BBC’s Panorama did an investigation showing the impact of unnecessary storage.

Together with simple and accessible processes, you may also wish to explore tips on effective filing and storing of information. Check out our A-Z, F is for Filing Structures blog. 

If you would like to find out more about creating simple administrative practices for your organisation, join our 'Preventing Corporate Memory Loss' webinar. 

Join us for our FREE "Preventing Corporate Memory Loss" webinar...

Wednesday 31st May 2023 at 18.00 (BST)

We invite you to join us on Zoom for our first MBS:C webinar. During the 90-minute session, we will share good practice on how your organisation prevents memory loss and deals with a changing group of volunteers and role holders.  We will share some of the resources used in our MBS:C online classroom, point out which are available for free, and introduce our new online training portal courses.

The webinar will cover: how it works, what is available to study, and importantly how it can benefit you as a role holder and/or your organisation

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