I’m thrilled to share my second guest blog post with Nancy Schwartz’s Getting Attention! Helping Nonprofits Succeed Through Effective Marketing. The post, entitled I Won’t Support My Grandma’s Nonprofit, is all about the importance of innovation in nonprofit organizations. It can be very tough to innovate in any realm, as it’s easy to slip into the “tried and true” cycle of repeating what’s done in the past. Nonprofits have even more obstacles to innovation, with their accountability to the public in different ways than the for profit sector (proving success is not as simple as a bottom line with nonprofits). However, nonprofits are the ones that should be innovating the most because they are solving the biggest problems and doing the most important work.
Whoever heard of a movement, revolution, or even new invention that was a product of the status quo? If you’re solving social problems that haven’t been figured out before, what makes you think you can get to the solution without doing something new?
Check out the blog post here and think about the ways your organization is (or isn’t) innovating.
I recently came across this great blog post on the Harvard Business Review Blog Network entitled Preventing Rejection at Work. The piece discusses the importance of inclusion when working with others to ensure productivity and happiness. The author offers some great tips on encouraging common ground at the outset and communicating in non-judgmental and respectful ways.
It’s natural to form friendships in the workplace, which have also been proven to increase productivity. But it’s important that when the time comes to work with others, you must welcome your colleagues into the conversation with open arms and encourage dialogue. No matter how confident or secure one is about their job, it’s all for naught if the person doesn’t feel as though they can speak openly. This is especially essential for introverts. Introverts often won’t speak up until they feel they are contributing value to the conversation. If you open a meeting by stating that all points of view are needed for success, you set your team up for productivity.
This is great advice that can also be translated into all of our personal lives. Let’s continue to be compassionate and open to everyone we meet. Everyone has a unique perspective and everyone has something to teach us. Let’s encourage that dialogue, ensuring a well-informed, diverse society.
Like most Millennial nonprofit employees, I have always been a dedicated, hard worker, even working in the trenches. I’ve put my head down and charged through the work. I’ve voiced my opinion in forums where I was allowed, mostly in department meetings, but unless I got my manager on my side, my point of view never really seemed to have much pull on an organizational level.
I always craved that seat at the decision-making table, the chance to speak my mind, and to make change in my organization. In short, I wanted power. I assumed that with power came great responsibility, which came with stress, discomfort, and difficulty.
Yesterday I came across this post entitled Powerful People Are Happy. The concept is that along with power comes the ability to be authentic. You are in control of things and you can be your true self. And that, in turn, makes you happy.
I get that. But I wonder if we might be able to translate that lesson to the rest of us who aren’t directors. We should consider the way that us lower level staffers can maintain control and power in our own programs. Even something as “small” as the donor database – something that you manage, that is yours, and that you have power over. I hope that will allow you to be authentic and allow you some happiness, too.
Working in a nonprofit is hard work. As much as we can pay attention to how to be happy at work, we should. Read through the article, but be creative about how you think about power, and think about how you can apply it to your role, no matter whether you’re working in strategy or in data entry.
Two things to celebrate today! I started this blog exactly two years today, and this is my 100th post.
No pressure or anything!
I just want to take a moment to reflect on the past two years, what it’s given me, and the role blogging has had in my life.
In the past two years, I was accepted to and started the Masters in Nonprofit Administration program at University of San Francisco. I moved from San Diego to the bay area to pursue this program and move back to where my family is. I have had two different jobs, and am thrilled to share that I am starting something new in the coming weeks! My new opportunity, while still in development, is at a higher level than I’ve worked before. I have a successful career, am learning like crazy in my Masters program, and continue to rock it in the nonprofit sector.
Blogging has so much to do with this. Through this blog, I have connected with thought leaders in the sector. When at networking events, people commonly recognize my name and ask “Chapin – are you Nonprofit Chapin?” I started this blog as a way for me to process my experience and thoughts about my experience in the sector. And while I still do that, and that will always be the core of this blog, a strong consequence of this has been that others have recognized and appreciate that I put my voice out there.
I am so grateful to all of you, my readers, for your participation in my experience, whether it be silent or spoken. Thank you!
I’m excited to share that I was asked by Nancy Schwartz of Getting Attention!: Helping Nonprofits Succeed Through Successful Marketing to write a guest post for her blog. The post went up on Friday and you can read it here. Since she’s asked me to do a series of posts from the Millennial perspective, I wanted to set the stage that the Millennial generation cannot and should not be generalized. In the post, I list some of the reasons this is the case, and what to do about it.
Readers, I want to share with you that the only reason this happened is because Nancy, who is a well known and respected nonprofit marketing expert, came across my blog and enjoyed my voice. I am thrilled to be entering this partnership, as I know it will be phenomenal for my name recognition and my professional development. I again want to stress the organic nature of this arrangement and the fact that you can easily get there too – simply by starting a blog! I write about whatever I want, whenever I want, in my voice… and it’s been recognized! Very validating!
I am thrilled to share a phenomenal report about the challenges faced by nonprofits surrounding fundraising. If you work in development or are a senior level employee at a nonprofit, you must read this! UnderDeveloped: A National Study of Challenges Facing Nonprofit Fundraising is a joint project of CompassPoint and the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund that surveyed development directors and executive directors across the nation to understand their relationship to each other and to fundraising. The report includes insightful numbers on high turnover rates, skills and abilities around fundraising, and an entire section about nurturing a culture of philanthropy in organizations.
I believe the biggest takeaway from this report is that we must reframe what it means to raise money – whether that be by development directors, executive directors, or line staff. We need to have an honest conversation about money, what it means to all of us in society, and what it means to nonprofit organizations. Money, as I’ve mentioned in this blog before, is an incredibly taboo subject. People aren’t comfortable talking about finances in a really open way. It is not deemed to be an acceptable conversation topic. This is a problem when that is what fundraisers are supposed to do – talk about money all day. What does this mean for the success – or lack thereof – of fundraisers?
We need to get to a place where we all understand that money is necessary for nonprofits to provide the services they do, and without donors and their generosity, there would be none. We need to be comfortable to share that with outsiders when we are talking about our programs. We need each other – nonprofits need funds to run, and donors need causes to support and believe in. In the end, we will all win.
Please, read this important report and share it with everyone you know! It can have a great impact for people in need.
As our world becomes more and more fast paced, the role of stress in our lives is increasing. We are expected to get better results, faster, and more easily. This expectation carries over into the nonprofit sector. Funders, donors, and clients are expecting quality services to be readily available, effective, and easy to use. Nonprofit employees would want nothing less, and have similar lofty expectations and goals for their own work and themselves. They are passionate about their work and the people they serve, so naturally they want to deliver their services in the most efficient way possible and help as many people as they can. They work hard to achieve success and they take a lot of pride in their work. Unfortunately, when expectations get out of control, there’s a very bad consequence: stress.
I recently took a course in Nonprofit Human Resource Management for my Masters in Nonprofit Administration program at University of San Francisco and did my final paper on the ways that Human Resources departments can address the problem of the role of stress in the lives of nonprofit employees. I first administered an informal survey (to my delight, I received 158 responses!), and the paper reviews some of my very interesting findings from this.
At the end of the paper there’s an addendum that is a short takeaway for Human Resources departments to take.
I wanted to share this paper and addendum on this blog because I see you all, my readers, as my community, supporters, and champions of the sector. You have seen that this is a topic I care deeply about, not just for my personal sanity but also for the health and sustainability of the nonprofit sector. We need to address this problem!
Click here to see my paper, and please let me know if anything great comes of it!
I’m participating in the Nonprofit Blog Carnival this month. The prompt is what’s your big dream for 2013?
My big dream is much bigger than something that can be accomplished in the next year, but it’s something I hold very dear to my heart, and something I hope to advance in a big way in 2013, the last year before I get my Masters in Nonprofit Administration. I hope to advance the presence of the nonprofit sector in the public eye, and improve its reputation in all ways.
As much as I wish to believe everyone knows and loves the nonprofit sector as much as I do, that’s simply not the case. The public has a very small and often skewed perspective of what the nonprofit sector is. If it isn’t bleeding heart activists or starving children on television, it’s scandalous organizations that do things like Kony 2012 or stop funding Planned Parenthood. Unfortunately, like most things, people only hear about nonprofits when something out of the ordinary happens.
And for most nonprofits, ordinary is beautiful. Ordinary means uplifting people out of poverty, teaching children, caring for the sick, spreading awareness about being environmentally friendly, finding animals homes, and the list goes on and on. Spectacular things are happening every day. But people just don’t know about it.
And we know that people would care to know, because we know that the vast marjority of people give donations. Often, they are giving with blind faith, without knowing fully what the nonprofit is doing for the community. If they knew more, perhaps their involvement would grow.
It’s no one’s fault that the public isn’t fully aware of the sector. It just means that those of us who are its biggest champions have some work to do. We have to talk about our job more at parties, have open conversations with our friends about the organizations we know about, and continue to blog and speak about the sector. It’s a big job, but I know we can do it.
My big dream for 2013 and beyond is that the nonprofit sector is admired as a wonderful, professional, passionate subsect of our society that is contributing invaluable services to our community.
“Self-respect is the fruit of discipline; the sense of dignity grows with the ability to say no to oneself.” – Abraham Heschel
The other day, my grandmother told me something that made me feel really good: she told me I have dignity. It’s made me think about the ways I define dignity and how I carry it out in my life.
I looked up the definition of dignity, and it states:
- self-respect: a proper sense of pride and self-respect
- seriousness in behavior: seriousness, respectfulness, or formality in somebody’s behavior and bearing
- worthiness: the condition of being worthy of respect, esteem, or honor
- due respect: the respect or honor that a high rank or position should be shown
- high office: a high rank, position, or honor
There’s a theme here… and it comes down to respect.
There are so many different forms of respect.
- There is self-respect, which I’m happy is listed first in the definition, because I would prioritize it first as well. It’s about listening to yourself, not judging your feelings or emotions, and loving yourself for who you are. Which is truly the foundation upon all your future relationships.
- There is respect for friends and family, making sure that instead of taking anyone in your life for granted, you appreciate and accept everyone for who they are and help them celebrate themselves… because that’s not something we do enough.
- There is respect for others in the sense that leaders, and all of us, must respect everyone around them. This brings me back to a specific sentence when I developed my personal mission statement: “I incorporate leadership into my life by showing initiative, going for opportunities at full force, and always acting with respect for others.”
- There is respect for the earth and where we have come from. We must take care of the world we are in, its plants and animals, as they cannot take care of themselves in the same ways we can.
Dignity plays a huge role in the nonprofit sector as well. We must always treat our clients with the utmost respect, to bring them up from challenging situations and instill in them the tools they need to thrive. In the office, we must treat our colleagues with respect. It can be difficult to always act with tact and grace when there are challenging personalities or differing opinions, but it’s critical for the success of your nonprofit.
My grandmother paid me a huge compliment by telling me that, and it’s something I will always remember. Dignity is not something to be taken lightly, and I appreciate that those I love believe I deserve it.