Posted by: knightbird | August 29, 2011

Punishment for Becoming Lean

In Alaska, both our federal Congressional delegation and our Alaska State Legislature substantially fund non-profit organizations like ours. The Denali Commission was a creation of Senator Ted Stevens and has done lots of great things in rural Alaska. Buildings get built, operating funds are appropriated and new programs are regularly started with Congressional and state appropriations. In the 8 years I have been at Chugachmiut, we have not received such an appropriation. Yes, our Villages have received Denali Commission funding and state appropriations, but Chugachmiut has not. I think I know the reason, and it came from a legislators lip as I talked about a possible appropriation. “If you are so successful, you can fund it yourself.” I felt like I had been slapped in the face because this was not my expectation.

Chugachmiut has not chosen to play the “we are horribly underfunded” card. Do we have challenges? Absolutely. Can we find solutions? Absolutely. Could we use occasional funding assistance? Definitely. When we seek funding assistance, it is to create value—not fund inefficiencies. And we always have a plan to provide greater service to our customers.

Our current initiative as proposed to our board is to implement Lean Design into our 2 facilities. We owe about $3.1 million for the buildings. Our recent refinance has freed up approximately $230,000 annually. We believe we can free up another $270,000 annually with another proposal to our board. Another $100,000 might be available through lean design use for our Anchorage building. All of our savings are used to provide improved services to our customers.

Tell me; is it fair to be told that other non-profit organizations will be rewarded for their inefficiency by receiving appropriations while we are being punished for ours by being told we can fund our own?

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