“That’s Just What We’ve Always Done”

I began my career working for a consulting firm and doing work at some of the world’s largest companies. These are companies with valuations that exceed some nations, and likely exert more influence than an even larger number of nations. Despite those vast resources, or perhaps because of them, I would still find individuals who would respond to an inquiry about the logic behind the design of a process with the common refrain, “That’s just what we’ve always done.” In the end, many conversations would end with a discussion about whether the net effect was material anyway.

When I transitioned throughout my career to ultimately working within the Church, I noticed that the level of what was considered “material” shrunk by a few zeros. All business leaders are stewards at some level, but the mandate for stewardship is compounded in the Church where leaders believe themselves to be divinely inspired and revenue is largely dependent upon donors and benevolent actors. According to the Association of Fundraising Professionals over 80% of donors want to know that the organization they are donating to is financially sound and has appropriate financial operations. I grew increasingly surprised that the common refrain, “That’s just what we’ve always done,” was endemic in the Church. Business technology and accounting standards have developed exponentially in the past two decades with the advent of cloud-based technology and major financial scandals. The reality is that if your organization has not radically shifted its business practices at least twice in the last two decades then you are probably due for an overhaul.

It is easy to point to exceptional situations like the one the world is dealing with now and say that COVID-19 is the reason why we cannot meet our obligations. I think there is a message of hope among the entities, like St. Joseph Financial Services, among many others, who can operate without missing a beat because they accept instability as a constant and rely on automation and best-in-class technology to reduce variables and focus on performance and results. The problem with doing things the way they’ve always been done is that everything around your entity is always changing: regulation, technology, and even your employees. The greatest gift in this whole situation is that the world’s best accounting and financial systems have never been cheaper or more accessible, and there are a growing number of partners, like St. Joseph’s Financial Services, who want to help deploy those systems effectively at your organization to compound your ministry.