First YNPN blog post of 2017. First thought: You survived 2016.
We may be battered from a rough year (don’t even get me started on why… you’re already on the internet, so it should be clear as day).
But thanks for coming back to work.
It’s easy for work to feel just like … well, work. But being a part of a nonprofit, you are the starry-eyed workhorse that has been seeking justice and impacting our community every day. And not everyone has the same opportunity to do that as a job.
Recently, a friend and I were discussing post-election action to take. They were driven and fired up to do more, as was I. One difference was that I work for a nonprofit, they work for a very different service industry. I envied their ability to leave work to go to Standing Rock, plan a group of strong ladies to march in DC at the inauguration, and fight for their beliefs boldly with actions that take courage — because working for justice takes courage.
I had to reflect on how grateful I was that given my line of work, working for justice and a better community is my job. I get the privilege of talking to people every day about issues of homelessness, racial disparities, and working to be a part of the solution. Working in a nonprofit — we are working for justice.
This is not to say we can become complacent in taking action — we can ALL do more and should do more, but I also want to share with you, my beloved young non-profiteers, that you’re doing it.
You are doing it.
To make a movement you need to show up to work. You need to enter gifts, lead meetings, stuff letters, attend rallies, talk to elected representatives, enter addresses into databases, and answer calls. Day-in and day-out, you are doing it.
Thanks for working at a nonprofit. Thanks for fighting for justice, fighting for a better community, and fighting for services to care for one another when other securities fall through.
You are doing important work.
Now that you’re at work, can we talk about resolutions for 2017?
Working for justice is hard. Let's take better care of ourselves and one another. Here are seven personal and professional resolutions for 2017 that I hope we can embrace in the new year.
Use your vacation time - Taking time to care for yourself is not only a benefit to working , it's a crucial part of it. Use the extent of your benefits, your personal days, sick days, and if you’re lucky enough to get dental coverage, go to the dentist like it’s your own personal spa.
Be honest about how much work goes into your work - Did it take you six hours to draft the proposal, but you said that it took you ‘no time at all’? Be honest about the time, effort, energy and skill that you are bringing to your work. If it’s too much, maybe ask a supervisor about what kind of supports are in place to help — it could create space to ask for more resources (a word of warning, there is strong language in the article linked). If it’s too little, maybe there are other responsibility opportunities. Either way, don’t pretend your work is something that it is not.
Take action - We know you care about your work at your nonprofit — but that may not be all that you care about. Engage in other missions that mean a lot to you. Connecting with one won’t diminish your efforts on another.
Address conflict - Be transparent about conflict. Conflict helps us to set boundaries, create change, examine our privilege and purpose so we can get to the larger work - serving the most vulnerable, saving the world. Standing Rock held principles and expectations for their supporters that can be applied to being supportive while working through conflict.
Collaborate with other organizations - Isolated impact organizations are giving us 1.4 million nonprofits with 1.4 million solutions to big issues, but, together, we can make real waves and create collective impact. Look at ways to partner with your neighbor organizations. Is your nonprofit on University Ave in St. Paul and working on housing issues? Mine too. Let’s work together.
Be generous with compliments and truths - Seemingly simple, but it could make a world of difference in your work and home life and if you’re complimenting your own reflection your confidence in your personal contribution to the work may also improve.
Give - Giving is good for you, but donating to your organization can feel complicated. You want to give, but you also know who is processing the gifts and may see how much you donate. Don’t let the amount stop you from giving. Social change doesn’t happen by fretting. It's created with action, donating — regardless of the amount, it is a first step.