Resolving To Make A Difference

Posted: January 19, 2016

New YearIt’s the middle of January and already it feels like the fervor for new year’s resolutions has passed. For myself, the “be a new you” message has never resonated. I don’t begin on January 1 with new intentions, but do I make a resolution. Essentially it’s the same every year – to make a difference in my professional life. It was my goal as a teacher of kids with special needs. It’s my goal as I work with nonprofits on their particular needs.

Naturally, my precise goals change year by year. You may know that January is named for Janus, the Roman god of doors. That coming and going, looking back and looking forward, also speaks to my 2016 goals.

Encouraging Collaborations

This has been on my professional radar since attending a workshop on the topic in 2014: how nonprofits can work together to help the underserved in areas where their missions overlap. I understand organizations want to stay autonomous. Collaborating doesn’t mean giving up your own charter. More so it’s about combining resources. It’s a strategy that I want to help facilitate, with the goal of developing great models that can guide others.

Another type of collaboration that I’ll continue to promote is board use of social media. I see it as a critical way to reach out broadly to donors as partners and invite their collaboration in supporting a nonprofit’s mission. I made the case for board members on Twitter, LinkedIn and the like in several forums last year. A simple tweet can have a huge impact, particularly with data about successes or needs. To round out collaborations, young people as social media tutors for board members is a service-learning concept I’d urge nonprofits to consider.

Getting Ready for Tomorrow

As organizations look ahead, recruiting younger board members is a smart strategy for the future. In fact, I think it’s essential. Members from multiple generations bring their own perspectives on giving, service and how an organization is perceived. It’s vital information for determining how to move forward and considering what may be necessary changes in mission or funding channels. I hear lots of reasons why boards aren’t more diverse – but I don’t buy most of them. There are sound ways to recruit all board members, including GenXers and Millennials, and to educate them in governance roles and other responsibilities. My mantra is always that it can be done – and often by doing it better.

In the same vein, preparing for tomorrow requires good donor stewardship today. This too is a topic that I’m passionate about. Donors want to be acknowledged. Certainly they want to be thanked. But they also want to know how their contributions are being used – in what tangible ways they’re making a difference. Circling back to board members on social media, it’s an ideal medium for keeping donors in the loop.

Moving into 2016

These are all ideas that I’ll continue to emphasize in every way I can. I welcome more opportunities to make a difference through coaching and training, as well as panel presentations. Of course, my dashboard and blog will remain key networks for sharing what I’m seeing that works to help nonprofits thrive.

Interested in pursing an idea or in coaching/training for your nonprofit? Let’s talk!