Silos. What comes to mind when you hear that word?

It is common place to hear about silos in regards to businesses. In this context, silos refer to the mentality of departments or teams that are focused only on their work, while being less likely to share resources and ideas.

Also in some instances, money and resources are poured into one department and not another. The blame game of departments pointing the finger at each other is all too familiar. In the end, the entire organization suffers. Unfortunately, nonprofits and social enterprises are not immune to silos within their walls.

So how can you combat silos to maximize collaboration and productivity? One way is to start thinking holistically.

Health of an Organization

Holistic is often mentioned in the health space, where the term refers to the treatment of the whole person by accounting for physical, mental, and emotional levels. For example, if you are incredibly fit physically but stressed out mentally from work, your overall health will suffer. Vice versa, if you are happy emotionally, but your body is not healthy, your well being is still less than ideal. To reach optimal health, all areas need to be operating at peak levels.

This concept applies to organizations as well. If one part of your business is deficient, the effectiveness of the entire organization can be compromised. Silos as underperforming or under resourced areas are damaging since all departments can impact each other.

Not convinced? Let’s look at some situations that should sound familiar.

Productivity and Morale Killers

Here are some common situations faced by many nonprofits and social enterprises:

  • You have a dedicated team ready to deliver on the mission, but fundraising efforts are unstable and there is no financial clarity or transparency. The team scrambles to make ends meet, while enduring stress daily wondering if the organization and their jobs will survive long term.
  • In another case, your organization has great support and adequate funding to make a difference. But the lack of direction and strategy around critical work results in overdue or failed projects. This leads to disengaged employees, who are frustrated in the lack of progress.
  • Your team is eager to use their expertise and time to serve. But by kicking the can down the road on investing in technology and sound processes to become more innovative, administrative and tedious tasks take over people’s day to day work. Your employees become frustrated with the status quo, while not being able to do what they do best: help others.

All these scenarios result in less productivity, reduced morale, and threats to your organization’s culture, mission, and viability. Meanwhile, our communities continue to be underserved.

Success By Thinking As One

At Impaktfel, being holistic is one of our core values and we take this approach when helping nonprofits and social enterprises. We believe every aspect of an organization (including your employees) are interconnected, meaning one cannot operate in a vacuum. So understanding the relationships between each department is important to avoid the negative impact of any changes you make.

Because of this, we focus our work on six key areas:

  • Accounting & Finance
  • People & Processes
  • Technology & Data
  • Marketing & Communications
  • Community Engagement
  • Development & Fundraising

By valuing and investing in these areas, you ensure all the parts fit together in the bigger picture. That picture should include a unified vision and common goal that everyone is working toward.

Open communication, interactions, data exchange, and coordination will be critical for the success of the whole system. Being holistic is the only way any healthy system, whether it is the human body or a nonprofit, works.

Are You Operating Holistically?

Take the time to look at your organization closely. If you’re not excelling in all these areas, then you are missing out on opportunities for yourself and the people you serve. It is critical to analyze how your strategic plans relate to and impact each area.

See how we helped the youth nonprofit Project: VISION tackle challenges through a holistic approach to deliver positive outcomes.

Imagine having all parts of your organization working in unison. You will be able to reach your highest potential, resulting in maximum social impact. Your team and constituents will be most thankful.

Curious how to improve your organization in a holistic way? Please reach out to me at