If you’ve had any interaction with a nonprofit over the past five years, you know that it’s a time of never-ending change. Realignments, redistribution of talents, tightening belts, cutting costs, closing organizations, rebirth of organizations, shifting departments, shifting responsibilities — the list goes on and on. You may find yourself doing a completely different job than when you began, or you may be the new guy or gal who’s come on board as a result of these changes. So how do you navigate shifting seas? How do you choose your battles and still manage to stay afloat?Read more
My friends know that I don’t have a lot of time for video games anymore, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t select mornings when I wake up at 4:00 a.m. to get a few hours of pew pew pew in before heading to work. Originally I thought part of my career would be to build awareness of female gamers, and I did get one article published, “Why Women Play Games,” in a nonprofit magazine. While passion for games helped introduce me to nonprofit publishing, it wasn’t until writing this post that I realized just how much my virtual worlds have helped max out my real-life XP bar.Read more
Valentine’s Day has come and gone. By now, the flowers you received are brown and drooping, and the weird fruit-filled chocolates are the only ones left in the box. Is this what your nonprofit job sometimes feels like?
Let’s be honest here. Sometimes it’s hard to work at a nonprofit. The board agendas, work plans, white papers, fundraising letters, metrics, phone calls, and meetings seem endless. And occasionally you can’t help wondering if it’s worth it. You could be making more money. You’re sick of being short-staffed. And your work—alleviating homelessness, poverty, global warming, illiteracy—can be overwhelming, frustrating, and more than a little depressing.Read more
The following blog is by Adaobi Okolue.
I’ve been having this recurring dream that’s got me wondering what the next couple of years in nonprofit land (and my perceived state of freedom) will look like. In my dream, I’m making stops at local nonprofit organizations in one of those white cargo vans with conspicuous ’60s flower-printed curtains draped over the back windows.
Ignoring “no solicitation” signs, I walk up to front-desk personnel and assure them I have meetings with their executive directors. After introductions, I convince these executives to check out my new fundraisinggimmick tool (too heavy to carry up). As I open the van’s backdoor, the Stride Gum ram emerges from nowhere and catapults executive after executive into a black hole.Read more
May 13, 1953 – August 11, 2011
The following blog is by Bridget Ulrich.
In my experience, working for a nonprofit is a lot like being part of a family. The people you are surrounded with go beyond the average coworker. I believe this is because you are bonded by the reality of working towards a common good instead of a common goal. So what happens when a tragic loss shakes your work family to the core? I recently had the unfortunate experience of finding out.
By Kelly Rowan
Follow me on Twitter: @kellykay30
According to Minnesota’s most famous muse, the times, they are a-changin’.
Change. We all face it. Sometimes it sneaks up on you and turns your world upside down in the blink of an eye. Sometimes you run at it full steam ahead with anticipation and open arms. Sometimes you know it's imminent and lurking, but consciously or not, you avoid it. The status quo is a known entity. And change is, well, exactly the opposite. But that's the point, right?
Overcoming a fear of the unknown is a big challenge that came up persistently at last week's Emerging Leaders Network lunch, where managing change was the topic of conversation. We experience a myriad of emotional reactions to the prospect of change, and we must, as leaders, be in tune with those around us in order to move that needle from fear to optimism for new opportunities and stronger programs, organizations and communities.
There are plenty of solid how-to guides for managing change out there, whether you're a seasoned leader guiding your team through a major organizational or departmental change, or an emerging leader looking for ways to offer unique contributions to keep things moving ahead collaboratively. The plethora of best practices and evolving models for organizational development and leading adaptively through change provide enough fodder for entire degree programs, so how to begin to address this topic in a short, punchy blog post?
I'll boil it down to one of the single most valuable exercises we can practice to manage change well. My favorite thing to do when tackling any big, overwhelming topic or issue is... to pause.
It's not easy. We are always moving, always forging ahead, striving to improve ourselves, our organizations and our whole life balance. But pause, we must. I'm sure of it. Get our butts up on that balcony.
It's only by doing this—taking the time to pause and reflect—that we can be fully aware of what's happening around us. We'll also be much better at considering the tools we have in our toolboxes, bolstering up our strengths and making note of gaps that may need our attention.
While it's true that we occasionally encounter truly large-scale change, the change in an organization's identity for example, the most prevalent change I see us faced with is the increasing necessity to be more agile, nimble and flexible at our cores. We must be grounded in the constants, such as our values, and build up the infrastructure, systems and discipline to ensure we take the time to get our heads above the fray of our everyday activities to be adaptive leaders, from whatever position we find ourselves in.
What's been most helpful to you when effectively managing change?
Or let’s Do-It-Together: share a challenge you're facing head-on and let this network of smart change-makers and change-managers help you hammer out some solutions.
Change is hard, but making a career change can be harder.
My dream job is to work in a rural African village doing community development and education alongside my wife, who is a nurse. At first, I really struggled making the leap to Africa in my mind and career, but now I’m slowly taking steps to my dream job.Read more
I answered a call by making a call.
From my cozy, sunny office, I made two phone calls (of course, on my break time and from my cell phone)–one to Senator Klobachar and one to Senator Franken. As a constituent, a former AmeriCorps member and public interest lawyer that facilitates legal volunteering, I explained how I have seen AmeriCorps improve communities through education, jobs training and environmental programs. Until it all came tumbling out of my mouth on those phone calls, I didn’t realize how much service meant to me and the people in my life.Read more
Some of us flew. Some us drove—10+ hours from the Twin Cities. And some of us took a brisk walk over to the 2011 Young Nonprofit Professionals Network National Leadership Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Regardless of the method, we all came with one overarching goal in mind: To become stronger leaders, a stronger network and ultimately a stronger sector.
To see a list of locations for other YNPN National Leadership Conferences, please click here!Read more
"Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”
I once spoke with Eric Hoffberg—business and life coach—about his philosophy of intentionally coloring speech with nuance. He explained that providing detailed information, creating context, and explicitly relaying the subtler points in conversation make for a richer dialogue and deeper communication.
Wiktionary defines something nuanced as “possessed of multiple layers of detail, pattern, or meaning.” While I agree wholeheartedly with Eric’s attitude, I would suggest that words are only the start to living more intentionally and with nuance. Words are powerful, but even more critical are the actions that ultimately result from thought and speech.Read more