Having Clear Mission and Vision Statements can Save You Money – Article 5 of 21


Lets get something straight.  I am not a hunter, nor have I ever hunted before (unless you consider “Great Deals” as a worthy target).  But I have friends that hunt wild game, and they have shared stories about the temptation to pursue new tracks of other game when their initial target was elusive for long periods of time.  In the business world, as well as our own personal lives, this is known as “chasing rabbit trails”, and it’s one of the most time as well as money wasting activity.  The best way that any business or organization can deal with this time wasting effectively, is to create a clear path and direction for everyone to follow, also known as Vision and Mission Statements.  Individuals can create these statements for themselves as well, providing clarification for how to achieve their long-term goals.
A Mission Statement is the first and (in my opinion) the most important statement to come up with.  It defines who you are and why you exist.  It creates a sense of unity and provides direction – like a navigational star.  It helps people gain a sense of contributing to something larger and more meaningful through everyday work.  It helps connect individual and organization values, energizing people and gaining the commitment necessary to achieve organizational goals.  It guides people at all levels of the organization so that in any given activity they know how they can best contribute.  It aligns organization members and volunteers in a powerful way to enhance coordination-in-action to achieve results.  The Mission Statement will have no effect however,if it is not promoted and at the forefront of everything you do, no matter how eloquent the wording is.  Show me an organization that does not have everyone pulling in the same direction, and I’ll show you a group that is unaware of what their Mission Statement is!  Don’t believe me?  Do a quick survey.  Ask 5 people what your Mission Statement is, and what they are doing to help achieve that goal.  Every different answer is another rabbit trail someone is following!  A Mission Statement is great for providing the foundation upon which goals and tactic are built upon, but it is incomplete without an inspiring Vision Statement.
“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keeps the law, happy is he”, is what Proverbs 29:18 tells us.  Having a vision of Christ’s return one day helps us all keep our eyes on the prize, and having a clear vision of what your organization will one day look like or achieve can be motivational and inspiring to your employees and volunteers as well.  Vision statements create an image that goes beyond the here and now; maybe even beyond your lifetime.  It harnesses our desire to make a better future and create something that is going to last.  Many organizations have thrived under an inspiring vision from their founders.  Terry Fox’s vision of one day beating cancer has raised over $550 million in donations for cancer research.  While the outcome has not been achieved yet, the vision is still the driving force for the foundation all these years later.  Every person connected with this cause has a very clear understanding of what they are striving for.  Do your employees and volunteers have the same clarity about your organization’s vision?
If you have both of these statements clearly defined and implemented, what have you done to keep them on the forefront of everyone’s mind?  Like wedding vows and commitments that spouses need to be reminded of in order to keep on track in their marriages, organizations need to continually review their Mission and Vision Statements so that they thrive and flourish.

Alex Golin is the President of The Non-Profit Purchasing Group Inc.  We are committed to lowering the recurring costs of small businesses and non-profit organizations by providing our members with discounted rates on their most commonly purchased goods and services.   For more information on how your organization can save money, call toll-free 1-888-359-6509 or visit www.nppg.ca or http://www.nonprofitpurchasinggroup.org

 

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The Biggest Discount is Not Always the Best Deal – Article 4 of 21


I learned a valuable lesson this past week. As the article title suggests, you are not necessarily getting the best deal just because something has the biggest discount. In order to gauge the true value of something you’re purchasing, you must look at other factors besides price. Factors such as purpose, productivity, lifespan and maintenance costs should all play a major role during your decision-making process.
When making a purchase for your home or business, the first thing you need to ask yourself is, “What is the purpose of this product?” If it does not do that which you need or want it to do, you won’t use it and it will be a waste of money. Buying a weed trimmer, for example, that only cuts light growth when you have a small forest to cut down, is not a good buying decision (even if it’s on sale!).
Use a holistic approach (view things from every angle) to determine how a product can help you become more productive. A cordless or gas-powered trimmer can keep you from getting tangled up with a cord while a shoulder strap helps ease the weight and tension on your back. These features allow you to get more done faster, which frees up your time for more recreation (or in my case, more chores!).
The quality and use of your product often determines the lifespan of it. Although we’ve all had good products that had “Gremlins” living inside, quality products tend to last longer. The question is whether something that costs twice as much is going to last twice as long. Sometimes viewing the length of the warranties as well as researching customer reviews online can give you an idea if a product lives up to the hype. Recently, reading reviews on GPS units helped steer me away from my initial choice, which apparently had major quality issues even though it was a good brand name!
The initial cost of a product needs to be added to the total costs of maintaining that product in order to see the final true cost. Buying an inexpensive printer may seem like a good deal, but having to regularly purchase replacement ink cartridges is where the manufacturers really hit you in the pocket book. If you keep using that printer for more than a year, you end up paying more than if you bought the more expensive printer in the first place!
So take my advice before you hastily buy something under pressure or simply because it is on sale; take the time to think about what you need, what you need it to do, and research if it actually does what it says it will do!

Alex Golin is the President of The Non-Profit Purchasing Group of Canada.  We are committed to lowering the recurring costs of small businesses and non-profit organizations by providing our members with discounted rates on their most commonly purchased goods and services.   For more information on how your organization can save money, call toll-free 1-888-359-6509 or visit www.nppg.ca.

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Store Your Information Properly: Article 3 of 21


This past year, my iMac computer’s hard-drive crashed, and I didn’t have a back-up plan.  I know what you’re thinking – “Apple computers are not supposed to breakdown like other brands!”  Normally this is true, and I believed that mine was going to live forever.  My 8-year-old hard drive died simply from over-use, and not from a malfunction or a virus.  But it still left me with a major problem either way.  All of my files, photographs and business documents were in purgatory limbo – neither available nor accessible, and I had no way to retrieve them from another source (unless I happened to be smart enough to send all of the files to myself as email attachments and therefore be able to still find them on an online email server account like GMail, but I’m not that smart).  This led me to start looking at how my information was saved, how accessible it was, and how much time I spent looking for things in general.  What I discovered is that there are 4 things you can do in order to become more efficient, and save money as well as time.

First of all, organize your information centrally.  Whether it’s your bills, bank records or speeding tickets, keep them all in one place so that you always know where they are.  For our family, it’s now a four-drawer metal filing cabinet that keeps all of our paperwork alphabetically all in one place (My wife started off with a single portable expand-a-file that soon became two, and then three as our family grew).  Even our entire family schedule is stored on one calendar, so that you can see what everybody is doing, all at the same time.  If something changes, each person is responsible for updating their schedule on the calendar, so that it is always up-to-date.   Keep all your bills that still need to be paid in one place and organize them by due date.  Late fees can add up pretty fast, so make sure you pay them on time before the due dates and give yourself a few days breathing space for delays in processing online or by mail.  There are even free programs like Wave Accounting (find them on the nppg.ca website) that will automatically pull all of your banking, budgets and bill information onto one page so that you can see the big picture and even set yourself due date reminders.

Second, try to store your information electronically.  I know that there are still a few of you out there that think that technology is from Hades itself (and when it doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do, I am one of them), but the reality is that most medical technology has helped us to live longer, healthier lives.  Storing your information electronically is part of that technological advancement.  I just sold over 300 CD’s at our garage sale over the weekend because those 5 boxes of music can now all be stored electronically on a computer chip the size of my pinky fingernail!  I keep all my copies of invoices on my computer, along with secret family recipes, tax records and children’s report cards.  No longer do I need to keep buying photo albums that take up space on my bookshelf or updating my paper address book.  Not only does it save space and money, I can replicate things easily or send files quickly.  Digital pictures can be sent across the county without having to buy a stamp or envelopes.  Things can be shared with multiple people all at the same time.  Files can be retrieved in seconds, rather than hours (I prefer “Alfred” on my new iMac computer – He finds everything for me instantly).

Third, take your security measures seriously.  Just like the thieves who break into homes or cars that have been left open, hackers prey on people who do not protect themselves properly.  Make sure that your home or office Wi-Fi is password encrypted to limit access to your networks.  Don’t accept everything on the Internet or in your email as the gospel truth.  Do your homework and remember that the old saying, “If it looks too good to be true, it probably is” applies today as much as ever before.  Do not use the same password on all of your online accounts; because once they discover it, they have access to everything!  Back up your files locally as well as online.  The local back-up allows for quick easy repairs and the online back up gives you peace of mind if anything ever happens to your home or business.  Under Canada’s privacy laws, every business is obligated to keep their customer’s information private and secure.  This means that if you are disposing of current or expired records, they need to be done securely through a certified shredding company like Iron Mountain or Recall.  It also means that valuable documents should be stored either off-site (like a bank vault) or in a secure personal fire-proof safe within your home (inside your daughter’s stuffed toy does not count!).  You may think that nothing will ever happen to you, but all it takes is that one time when your information was compromised, and you will regret ever being so carefree in your security measures…trust me!

Finally, make your information accessible from wherever you are.  If information is stored centrally, electronically, and with the proper security measures, you definitely want to be able to access it no matter where you are or when you need it.  If the local computer is where everything gets stored, look at networking your other systems so that you can retrieve information using any other connected computer.  There are also programs like MyPC that allow you to connect to your local computer from any off-site computer.  If the information is on a server, make sure you set up secure user access so that you can work on files from home.  Because of  where things are technically moving, you may want to look at storing your information online (often called “Cloud Computing”).  You never have to upgrade your server or buy new equipment or greater storage capacity; it simply grows with your needs and somebody else manages all of the details.  Ultimately, you get full access from any computer anywhere in the world.  Now that’s what I call “information at your fingertips”.  This is all about saving time from having to go back to where your information is, saving money from having to travel, and saving face by having the answers available immediately.  Patience may be a virtue, but when it comes to information we are in an instant gratification world.

Alex Golin is the President of The Non-Profit Purchasing Group of Canada.  They are committed to lowering the recurring costs of small businesses and non-profit organizations by providing their members with discounted rates on their most commonly purchased goods and services.   For more information on how your organization can save money, call toll-free 1-888-359-6509 or visit www.nppg.ca.

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Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for a Better Deal: Article 2 of 21


We are too nice sometimes. Period. We go about our daily lives with this desire to not be offensive or upset anybody. We show people grace when they do something that bothers us, and we don’t complain very much when a service or product does not meet our expectations. The problem with being too nice is that people take advantage of you. Stores create return policies with high restrictions, knowing that if it is more of a nuisance to return something than simply let it go, then most people won’t bother taking the time, energy and effort required to return an inadequate product.

Businesses that convince you to buy their repeating service (or membership for that matter) bank upon the fact that once you are signed up, you are most likely to stick with them month after month, year after year, and not want to go through the effort of comparing prices again. Credit card and insurance companies are notorious for doing this; they get you to sign up with introductory offers and then prices increase automatically down the road, long after you’ve forgotten the great deal you received initially! But you can do something about it…if you want to.
My suggestion is to start with the simple things, like home and auto insurance that have an annual renewal. When you receive the insurance renewal form in the mail, start shopping around before the renewal date and receive other quotes. I recently switched my insurance to another organization and saved $747.00 per year by making 2 phone calls! It’s amazing the offers that are available out there. Don’t be afraid to ask the businesses what types of discounts they offer to special organizations or associations. Would you be willing to buy a one time membership at the Co-op for $1 and receive hundreds of dollars in discounts every year? Makes pretty good investment sense to me!
As you start to get stronger in you abilities to bargain hunt, you will come to realize that your strongest negotiation tactic is the ability to take your business elsewhere. Call you cable provider and tell them about a special offer that the competition is offering, and that you are thinking of switching over, and watch them scramble to give you a better deal so that they keep you as a customer. I recently received a special interest rate offer from one of the credit card companies that I currently use sparingly. I called up another credit card company that I use regularly and shared with them that I was going to start using this other credit card service unless they dropped their rates for me. Ten minutes and a discussion with a supervisor later, my annual interest rate was reduced by 9.0% from that point onwards, my annual membership fee was dropped permanently, and they thanked ME for doing business with them! All this because I wasn’t afraid to ask for a better deal. The next time you have an opportunity to save some money and get a better deal, go for it!
Alex Golin is the President of The Non-Profit Purchasing Group of Canada. They are committed to lowering the recurring costs of small businesses and non-profit organizations by providing their members with discounted rates on their most commonly purchased goods and services. For more information on how your organization can save money, call toll-free 1-888-359-6509 or visit http://www.nppg.ca.

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Being Friends with a Neighbouring Organization Can Save You Money! Article 1 of 21


In my last article, I wrote that I was going to share with you 21 ways that either yourself or your organization could save money. Well, here it is – the first piece of advice that will save you a lot of dough: BECOME FRIENDS WITH YOUR NEIGHBOURS! How is this going to save me money, you may ask? Well I’m here to tell you that not only is it appropriate for us to build relationships for spiritual reasons (see Romans 13:9), but it has great practical implications as well. Whether your neighbour happens to be in the apartment across the hall from you, the homeowner down the block, or the other church in your neighbourhood, each of them can help you (and you can help them) save money! The difficult part is getting us to realize that we should actually be helping one another instead of trying to do it all by ourselves.
Independence for ourselves is a pretty recent concept that came out of the Industrial Revolution during the 1800’s. Up until that point, most things were done communally, or “as a community”. The entire village did farming, with everyone pitching in to help get the work done on time. Many women coming together at one time accomplished the spinning of thread (I can just imagine the chatter!). Going back to biblical times, Abraham traveled with his entire household (including many animals, slaves and other family members), while in the book of Acts (2:42-47) the Christians began pooling their resources and sharing everything they had with each other. It is only since the Industrial Revolution started producing things quicker, cheaper and more efficiently that we began to no longer need each other’s help. By the mid 1900’s families and organizations started “cocooning”, or getting wrapped up all by themselves. We no longer needed anybody, and it was almost embarrassing if you actually asked for help. Our backyard fences were built higher, our phone numbers began to be unlisted, and our involvement in one another’s lives became superficial. Don’t believe me? Ask yourself, how many neighbours do you know that have real practical needs that you could actually help out with?
The benefits of being a good neighbour are numerous. For example, you could share your tools with one another. We all know that the mitre saw we just had to buy is great when we need it, but we really only need it for those special projects. If you only need a pressure washer a few times a year, wouldn’t it be great to just borrow it and not have to shell out $100 every time you needed a special tool? Another example is renting equipment or doing projects together. A carpet cleaner or a trailer can be used by multiple people for the same rental as using it once yourself! Why not split the costs and share in the service? Finally, purchasing bulk packages a great ways to save but are sometimes difficult to store properly or use before they expire. Why not buy them together and share in the savings while only having to store a smaller amount? The same principal applies to any service quote; ask them what the price would be if they would do 2 or more jobs in the same neighbourhood. You would be surprised at how much discounts people will give if they receive the extra business!
Being a good neighbour doesn’t come easy, but if you abide by the following principles it can help pave the way.
1. Be the first to extend a hand. Don’t wait for them to make the first move.
2. Get to know them personally over a luncheon, coffee or dessert. Nothing breaks down the superficial walls like good food and some funny stories!
3. Offer your help, your services, and your resources. Keep offering until they accept because in today’s society people don’t believe that your offer is genuine (They just can’t believe that someone would actually do that!)
4. Invite them to special events held at your workplace, your church or even a group or organization that you belong to. You would be surprised at how many people would go if they were just asked!
5. Include them in your planning conversations when you are looking at doing some work around the shop or yard, ordering supplies, doing a big shopping trip or even a special project. Find out if they have any of the things you need or could borrow, or even good advice.
6. Don’t forget to talk to God about them before you talk to them about God. Your values as a Christian organization may not be the same as theirs. Let them see your love in action!

Alex Golin is the President of the Non-Profit Purchasing Group of Canada. They are committed to lowering the recurring costs of non-profit organizations by providing their members with discounted rates on their most commonly purchased goods and services. For more information, visit http://www.nppg.ca or call toll-free 1-888-359-6509.

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New Article Series being started for How Non-Profit Organizations Can Save Money.


I love saving money. It’s not that I don’t like spending money; in fact I’ve spent millions of dollars throughout my career as a professional Purchaser (and according to my wife, personally, as a die-hard garage sale shopper). I get a thrill out of updating my wardrobe, or buying a new product that will make my life easier. Who doesn’t? But I get a bigger thrill out of paying less for it than what was normally expected according to the msrp (manufacturers suggested retail price). Liquidation centers, thrift shops and bargain outlets are like tourist sites for me – ones that I have to visit every time I drive by. One time I drove an hour off a State freeway in California just to visit a clearance center! Like I said before, I love saving money!
My problem is that I know what most things actually cost to make. After 25 years of traveling all across factories throughout Asia, and visiting manufacturers in South, Central and North America, I have a pretty good idea of what a lot of consumer goods cost compared to what they are sold for. I know for example, what type of gross margin (the difference between cost and sales amount) most department and specialty stores make. I know how retailers create a specific layout to maximize their traffic flow and capitalize on add-on sales. I even know which items in a flyer are below cost and are used strictly to entice people to shop at their stores that weekend. Needless to say, most companies do not make very much profit off me. (You don’t know how many times I’ve had to have supervisors override cash registers due to the amount of discounts!) So when I see organizations and churches throwing money away by simply paying too much for certain products and services, it makes my blood boil.
Of all the people in the world, those who call themselves Christians should be the most effective at maximizing the money, gifts and talents that have been entrusted to them. Even if you are a charity with no religious affiliations, you still have people believing in you to do the right thing for the cause and for all of the things you stand for. Ultimately it is God who has blessed you with that ability, but generous donors have put their faith in you as well with their money. They are hoping that you are wise with your expenditures. In fact, they should be demanding proper stewardship of your resources because in the end God will hold you accountable as well. It is with this end in mind that I have made it my life’s mission to help people save money on their necessary expenses and get more value for their budgeted dollars.
Over the next few months, I will be writing a collection of articles on how churches, businesses, camps, co-ops and other non-profit organizations can save their hard earned/given money and be able to do more for God’s kingdom. Topics include 21 ways that your organization can be better stewards and more efficient with God’s money. One day, the Master is going to return and ask to be given an accounting of the 5, 2 or 1 talent he gave you before he left. Will you be able to show Him all that could be accomplished, in spite of the economy? Let’s take your five talents and turn them into ten!

Alex Golin is the President of the Non-Profit Purchasing Group of Canada. They are committed to lowering the recurring costs of non-profit organizations by providing their members with discounted rates on their most commonly purchased goods and services. For more information, visit www.nppg.ca or call toll-free 1-888-359-6509.

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NPPG Canada Helps Non-Profit Organizations Save Money during Decline in Donations


Non-Profits Now Have a Better Way to Purchase Thanks to an Organization that is Looking Out for Their Best Interests

CALGARY, A.B., Canada. – January 13, 2011 – The Non-Profit Purchasing Group of Canada announced today that non-profit organizations and charities nationwide have an opportunity to save money on their everyday purchases of products and services through a discounted website at www.nppg.ca.
“With the current tough economic conditions, donations to most non-profit organizations in Canada have been declining for the past two years,” said NPPG Canada President Alex Golin. “After the first year, many groups simply tightened their belts, but now with a second straight slow year, a lot of non-profits are having to take a serious look at either cutting back their programs or laying off people. To a large organization, downsizing may be an option, but for many of the over 200,000 small to mid-size non-profits in Canada, their only option would be to no longer open their doors to help those in need. Our website offers them a chance to be good stewards of their donations and funding by helping them do more with less resources.”
NPPG Canada is a Group Purchasing Organization that has negotiated discounts and savings on products that charities need and services that non-profits use. Products like office and shipping supplies, water and energy-efficient equipment, fund-raising and database management software all help non-profits become more cost-effective in their roles within their communities. In addition, background checks, anti-bacterial paint, safety supplies and online employee survey tools all help keep an organization and their volunteers safe and happy. For a nominal membership fee (as low as $9.99/month), access is given to an extensive list of vendor partners that can offer their discounted products and services, and that means that NPPG Canada members have lots of opportunity to reduce their expenditures. The money that they would save every year could go a long way to keep programs running and services strong. The website also provides people with an opportunity to buy gift memberships and donate them to their favourite non-profit, ultimately giving charities far more than the initial amount!

About The Non-Profit Purchasing Group of Canada
NPPG Canada is the only group purchasing organization dedicated exclusively to Canada’s non-profit community. NPPG Canada is committed to lowering the recurring costs of non-profit organizations by providing its members with discounted rates on their most commonly purchased goods and services. . NPPG Canada also supports the non-profit community by donating 10 percent of its net income to Canadian charities. For more information, call 1-888-359-6509 or visit www.nppg.ca.

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