Compassion’s Organizational Nitty Gritty

Now, I know the organizational structure of a company is not all that exciting, but it does say a lot about how an organization is run, what its priorities are and how it tries to achieve its objectives.

Just take a look at your church.

If it has a senior pastor, five associate pastors, two youth pastors, three children’s ministry directors, two worship pastors, three small group directors and a congregation of 50 people, that’s a problem, wouldn’t you say?

Top heavy, perpetually over budget, ridiculous amounts of overhead.

Now say it’s located near an inner city and its main goal is to do targeted outreach. Now the church is potentially lacking in both talent and funding to achieve its outreach goals.

Mission and budget are crucial pieces of the puzzle for an organization. They drive strategic planning one year and five years down the road and govern the here and now.

They help dictate the best structure of an organization and enable managers to make important decisions around hiring — Who? For what purpose? When?

Last year alone Compassion grew by 371 full-time employees — a 19 percent increase. We have more than 1,500 International Program staff in the field — 67 percent of our total staff is made up of nationals. That says a lot about how we use our resources and go about our mission.

Organizational structure is important, especially for us as we have been growing so rapidly.

You all know we’ve surpassed 1 million concurrently sponsored children. What on earth does it take to support a boatload of new employees and more than 1 million sponsored children?

Well, let’s take a quick look at the mission-keepers and budget preparers at Compassion. They fit under the umbrella title Global Support Services and are one part of what makes things tick here in Colorado Springs.

Global Support Services serves all of Compassion across the board. Made up of Ministry Services and Administrative Services, it is one of four main business units within the Global Ministry Center.

The International Program Group, International Partnership Development, and USA are the other three. (We’ll talk about them another day).

Above those four business units are the Chief Financial Office, Executive Vice President David Dahlin and a small group called MI2 or Ministry Integration and Innovation, which provides across-the-board leadership and coordination for the long-term success of all of our ministries.

Providing oversight and invaluable leadership is the Chief Executive Officer, and the heart of Compassion, the beloved Wess Stafford.

organizational chart

But we wanted to get into the nitty gritty, right? Well, here goes.

The business unit I work in, Ministry Services, is made up of a few different departments. Some are fairly self-explanatory and others might need a descriptor or two.

In no particular order, we’re talking about Human Resources, Information Technology (IT), the Global Strategy Office, Facilities, Travel, the Distribution Center and Procurement. (Apologies if I’ve missed any).

Administrative Services is made up of Finance and the Office of Risk Management. And maybe these sound like laundry lists, but each one is a living, breathing organism. These are some of the gears in the great Compassion machine.

In Administrative Services, take Finance, for example — the budget preparers. (And budget preparation is only one small aspect of what they do). The Finance department alone has a key objective, values and a vision statement.

The Finance function enables the mission of Compassion by

“providing excellent financial services that promote integrity and stewardship while equipping the global organization to make wise ministry choices.”

Its values center on trust, teamwork, communication and being proactive and customer-focused.

Lastly, its vision by 2015 is to transform in order to

“provide value-added, influential and outstanding financial services globally while modeling excellence in customer service, innovation, collaboration and education and training.”

These are talented folks. I’d personally like to invite a few to work some magic with my personal finances, but alas, they are busy serving Compassion’s mission to make sure that we are financially viable now and in the future to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name.

In Ministry Services, let’s take a quick look at the Global Strategy Office.

It is made up of the Office of Corporate Planning, the Global Project Office, Global Internal Communications and Business Enterprise Architecture. Intimidating sounding names, eh?

I thought so when first coming on board.

Well, Corporate Planning folks are essentially the mission-keepers. They work to ensure that “both the long-term (three to five years) and short-term plans (within the fiscal year) for Compassion and all Compassion domains are clearly aligned with the mission to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name and move Compassion closer to our envisioned future.”

Biz talk for they keep us on track. They connect our mission to measurable outcomes so we can know we are doing what we set out to do.

Mission. Budget. Organizational structure. There is a lot more to talk about with regard to these things, but I’ll leave us here for now.

Next time we can explore some of the other major business units or dive into a smaller division, like the Distribution Center, to finally figure out how all our child letters get in and out.

8 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Kees Boer November 14, 2010

    I remember Wess talking about the hierachy chart in the Dominican Republic. He mentioned that in Compassion we really have an upside down chart. In other words, the leadership is really at the bottom serving the others… I.e. the board serves Wess, who serves Dave Dahleen, who serves those four ministries and who serve….. which probably puts the sponsors on top in the partner countries (example Canada) and the children on top in the “country countries….” (example Bolivia) (I’m sure I got this term wrong!!!)

    Blessings, Kees

  2. Alexandra Watson November 14, 2010

    Thanks so much for this detailed information! I’m a Compassion child-sponsor and I’ve been looking all over the main website for info on how the organization is structured internally. Glad to find this info available to the public.

  3. Juli Jarvis September 18, 2009

    Very interesting! Thanks!

  4. Kees Boer September 17, 2009

    Is it possible to make the chart, “clickable,” so that one can get a better view of it?

  5. Amy Wallace September 16, 2009

    Can’t wait to hear about what happens with our letters!

  6. Emily September 16, 2009

    Good information to have – and I might add, that’s just what’s happening in Colorado Springs! Compassion International would be a much longer post.

    One small thought though… necessary organisational structures aside, I’d like to suggest (and maybe even Wess would suggest) that at the heart of Compassion is surely the children. They don’t factor on the organisational chart, but it’s all a bit pointless without them! The same could be said, of course, about Christ.

    Thanks again – looking forward to reading more nitty gritty!

  7. Marci in MO September 16, 2009

    I agree with Becky! 🙂

  8. Becky September 16, 2009

    Thanks so much for continuing to let us sponsors learn more about how Compassion works in an expanded nutshell version so to speak. Personally, I find each of your installments intriguing and am glad someone gave you permission to write and post them!

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