Dear Giacomo: Office Decor

Nonprofit master Giacomo Crostini is here to answer all your burning questions about life in the nonprofit sector. Email him at [email protected] for advice and guidance.

giacomo.jpgDear Giacomo,

I work at a small nonprofit without a lot of resources, and I'm really jealous of folks who have nicer digs for their workspace. How can I spruce mine up?

Drab Office Heavy Heart

Dear DOHH,

Bummer! But I know your pain! So often it seems a price we pay for working at a small nonprofit organization can be giving up a few of the finer amenities others take for granted. Windows that don't fully seal shut in the winter, emptying your own trash, and setting your own mouse traps can be everyday occurrences in the world of small grassroots organizations. Window washers? AC units you don't have to manually put in by yourself? Office furniture that matches? These are the stuff of dreams for many of us. Here are three simple tips to spice up your office environment.

hermit-crab.png1. Have you thought about a plant or two? A little greenery can make a huge difference! Go with something simple that won't require constant attention but adds a dash of life to combat the drab. There are a lot of articles out there that can help you decide which household style plants are the hardest to kill—this is important if you are anything like me. Plants wither with fear and dismay when I'm near. Lifehacker has some great ideas, too.

Don't want a plant? Get some hermit crabs! They are very hearty, easy to take care of, and you can paint their shells. Plus, it's a great conversation starter when meeting with new partners and clients. Plus, you can join a very active and supportive hermit crab community online. 

chewie.jpg2. Now that you’ve brought your office to life with some plants (or hermit crabs) it’s time to spice up those walls. Nothing can drag down morale or be a constant reminder about your lack of resources more than bare, drab walls. Have you considered the wonderful world of velvet paintings? Affordable, interesting, and guaranteed to leave a lasting impression on the next donor you have over to your office.

If fuzzy art isn’t your cup of tea, that’s cool. It’s not for everyone. There is a plethora of ideas and resources out there. Some of it gets a little outrageous but even this Pimp my Cubicle Pinterest wall gave me a few good tips. Local paint shops will sometimes toss out “mistints” or returned paint and will often donate it to a nonprofit. Craigslist will even have the free gem from time to time. Leave no stone unturned. The most important thing is to make it something that you will really enjoy walking into each day. Have fun with it and make sure it reflects you and your organization. Seriously though, I really can’t recommend velvet paintings enough.

3. Still no luck? Well if all else fails, the internet can probably (always) save the day. A simple Google search for inexpensive office decor ideas can prove fruitful. Maybe look at your Facebook friend list and see if someone looks particularly creative. I mean really, if hermit crabs and velvet paintings aren’t inspiration enough for you, I’m not sure what else I can do.
How about sharing some of your big nonprofit office decor wins/fails with YNPN-TC? Tweet a pic at @ynpntc and use the hashtag #deargiacomo. Let’s see it YNPNers. Get out there and go nuts! Cheers! 

Original artwork by Taylor Baldry


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