So what do the Olympics have to do with working in a nonprofit anyway?
I unabashedly love the Olympics! The global spirit, ceremony, fanfare, and anticipation of athletes representing far corners of the world stir in me excitement, joy and wild rooting usually reserved for strategic planning! Seriously. As I’ve been watching the games these last two weeks, I have marveled at the supernatural feats of Olympians. But I know they are just humans – at the top of their game. In addition to their raw talent, incredible commitment, endurance, and strength, I also admire how they play the game, their triumphs and defeats.
There’s a lot we young nonprofit professionals can take away from the Olympics.Read more
Stakeholder engagement. There’s some nonprofit jargon that can easily overwhelm anybody. But it’s really just about who to involve in decision making, when to involve them, and at what level - all pieces that are essential to working with clients and others.
As a nonprofit consultant at Aurora Consulting, I talk with my colleagues about stakeholder engagement in relation to organization assessments, program evaluation, strategic planning, nonprofit governance, and many other areas. The questions of who needs to be heard from, what quality of information we need, how important consensus is, where will authority lie all become very important.Read more
It’s 2012. Can I get political or do I have to keep it under wraps if I call myself a professional?
A life of service in nonprofits often means addressing quality of life issues in the places we live and for the people and communities we serve. (Sometimes, it’s animals, trees or water we’re saving.) Even if you aren’t working on issues pertaining to people or for a political advocacy organization per se, the initiatives you support most likely have politics written all over them. As election season rolls around, your first instinct may be to jump right in and wave a flag of support for the issues on the ballot you care about most.
There is nothing wrong with showing your true colors, but how can you do that and still maintain professionalism in the workplace?Read more
One of my favorite theoretical concepts is that of linguistic determinism, or the idea that language and its structures limit and determine human knowledge or thought. Our classic Minnesota example is the various types of precipitation we encounter in the winter. We are able to refer to the white stuff as slush, wintry mix, and sleet -- whereas others in warmer climates might only be able to name it snow.
The idea that we can only understand the purposes or capacities of things insofar as we have been introduced to them should urge us to dream up new ways to relate to and interact with everything around us. It matters not only to our ability to repurpose vases as drinkware when the rest of the dirty cups are in the sink, but also to the creativity and vision we can have for our lives and the communities we call home.Read more
In their excellent book Superconnect, Richard Koch and Greg Lockwood emphasize the “strength of weak links,” recognizing that we can yield “enormous dividends” by reaching out to the acquaintances in our lives. This is the half of networking we’re always told to work on—as we build our group of professional acquaintances, we increase the chances that one of them will lead us to that perfect new opportunity or connection. There’s certainly some truth to this.
But the authors of Superconnect pay short shrift to the other half to networking (or as we should really be calling it: connecting). It’s not just about expanding your group of random “weak links.” It’s about habitually strengthening the bonds you have with your closest connections. When your good friends know what’s going on in your life, it makes it easier for them to offer support, accountability, and ideas.Read more
I’ve heard that volunteer recruitment is like dating. As a Volunteer Manager for a couple of organizations, I can say that I’ve experienced how similar these two activities can be. They both involve—
- Meeting someone new
- Learning a bit about that new person (or organization)
- Both parties decide if they like each other enough to begin a relationship
Recently I wrote an essay for mnartists.org about the rising popularity of collaborative arts projects and a “Do It Together” vs. Do It Yourself ethos in the Twin Cities (Do It Together? Patience, cricket, I’ll explain). Although the article was focused on the Minneapolis arts scene, rereading it got me thinking about how the Do-It-Together concept could be applied to almost any creative or professional culture, including nonprofits. And lo and behold, just like that I had organically stumbled upon the perfect topic for this blog All. By. My. Self.
Err… hold on a second. That’s actually a stone cold, rock hard lie right there.
A few days ago magician-of-all-trades YNPN board member Chris Oien casually suggested the idea to me and I was sold. Do It Together, kids.Read more
My name is Catherine, and I'm an eventoholic. I LOVE events! Mention the possibility of attending an event, planning an event, or hosting an event, and I’m all over it. But this post isn't about me (or the potential events anonymous group I probably need to attend). This is about an exciting event trend I was first introduced to at a Torch event, and have continued to see at subsequent events: The World Café model.
What is it exactly? The World Café website explains this model as “an innovative yet simple methodology for hosting conversations about questions that matter. These conversations link and build on each other as people move between groups, cross-pollinate ideas, and discover new insights into the questions or issues that are most important in their life, work, or community.” So in other words, peer advice on anabolic steroids.Read more