I love St. Patrick’s Day! Even though I’m not Irish, it’s a time we can ALL be Irish for a day. This year, my husband and I went out with friends to celebrate over green beers and pints of Guinness. And I dressed my two year old son in an adorable leprechaun shirt his Godmother brought him back from Ireland. So that got me thinking about leprechauns.
I love the idea of a fun, mischievous little elf who can lead you to a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. We could all use a pot of gold in our lives, couldn’t we? So then I thought: Who is my leprechaun? Who helps me find my figurative pots of gold? See if you can find your leprechaun below.
- A Mentor: Do you have an experienced and trusted advisor? A personal friend you can call on at any time to help you think through any issues you might be facing, personally or professionally? It’s a great way to help you navigate this complex world we all live in. If you are a Major Gifts Officer, find another MGO who is successful that you admire and see if he/she would consider mentoring you. It’s a well-known axiom that if you want to achieve a goal, one of the best strategies is to find someone who has achieved it and ask them how they did it. If you don’t have a mentor, consider finding one today. It’s a decision that will pay dividends for years to come.
- A Strong Support Network: Perhaps you have a small army of leprechauns. Do you have a support group of colleagues you call on when you’re looking for help or advice? Cultivating at least a handful of colleagues you can turn to is a wonderful resource. One idea talked about often in my Counseling graduate program was “Consult, consult, consult” and I think that is applicable in the world of non-profits as well. Why reinvent the wheel when you can turn to colleagues who may have already experienced an issue you’re facing. Developing a support network can help you out of a bind, assist you in coming up with a new and creative idea and just make your professional experience a richer one.
- On-line Resources: In this electronic world, you can always cultivate virtual leprechauns as well! One idea is to subscribe to email lists in your field to learn from others dealing with similar issues. And don’t forget about social media resources like LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook. Are you following thought leaders in your field? That’s yet another way to discover new innovative ideas that may be applicable to your nonprofit. Take a few minutes every day to read some of your favorite bloggers, journalists or other on-line resources to stimulate some creative ideas to help think outside the box.
- Professional Development: Another way to find your leprechaun is to participate in professional development opportunities. For example, by attending AFP events, you can learn from a fundraising professional through the program while meeting or reconnecting with colleagues. Or participating in fantastic programs like Leadership North Carolina (like my wonderful colleague April Anthony is currently doing) which allows you to learn from other professionals and then build your support network (see #2). Always keep an eye out for ways to sharpen and hone your skills while rubbing elbows with others who inspire you.
- Consultants: And last but not least: My favorite leprechaun! Who better to lead you to the pot of gold than consultants who have extraordinary experience in helping solve problems and improve organizations just like yours? I may be slightly biased, but I believe a strong and experienced consultant (like those I work with) provide an invaluable asset to nonprofits. I love working for an organization where I hear amazing feedback from past clients who are tremendously grateful for the help they’ve received. If you’ve never thought about hiring a consultant for your organization, perhaps it’s something to consider for the future.
So, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day this week, I hope you’ve enjoyed thinking about the leprechauns in your life. I think it’s also worth noting that the pot of gold is always located at the foot of the rainbow; and rainbows only appear after rain. So, sometimes when you’re stuck in the storm clouds and downpours of your organization, try not to lose hope and stay focused on the pot of gold you’ll find once you’ve weathered the storm. And keep an eye out for the leprechauns in your life that will help you find them.