Summer is winding down and kids are headed back to school. I’m seeing back to school flyers in the papers and first day of school pictures popping up all over my newsfeed on Facebook. So this got me thinking: What can we in the nonprofit sector learn from this Back to School season? Here are some ideas:
1. Get School Supplies
Do you remember the excitement of receiving your school supply list and going shopping with your parents? Browsing the shelves for that perfect three-ring-binder or lunchbox? (Do kids even use those these days?) I remember that vividly and how good it felt to have all shiny, new supplies to start the year. Do we do the same in our nonprofits? This is a great time to stock up on supplies we’ll need for the upcoming year. Something as small as having all the paperclips, staples, stationary, envelopes, tape, pens, etc. that we’ll need for the upcoming months can save us the hassle of running out unexpectedly. And sometimes it’s the little things like fun colored post-it notes or a couple of our favorite pens that can give us an unexpected boost and brighten our day.
2. Go Clothes Shopping
Once again, I remember the shopping trips with my Mom to get some new outfits for back to school and I have vivid memories of wearing those outfits for the first time. I think I stood taller and had a bounce in my step those days. Psychological studies confirm that we project greater confidence when we feel good about our appearance. Men: When is the last time you bought yourself a new tie? Ladies: When did you get your last power suit or new pair of heels? It’s amazing what sprucing up your wardrobe does for your mood and general sense of well-being.
3. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare!
There’s a reason that teachers go back to school several days or weeks before the students ever arrive. This gives them a chance to get their classroom together and get everything in order in preparation for the students’ arrival. As summer draws to a close, this is a great time to start preparing for the best fall ever for your organization. Clean your office, get your development plan in place, dust off your strategic report and get yourself organized for the busy months ahead!
4. Take a picture on Day One
Okay, well maybe not literally a picture. But maybe so! When is the last time you had a group picture of your team? Capturing important moments in life with pictures helps foster a sense of cohesiveness and fun. The bottom line is: Get excited! You work in the nonprofit sector where you are working tirelessly to make a difference in the world. That’s exciting! Celebrate it! Have fun with your co-workers and teammates and don’t forget to take a moment every now and then, pause and really reflect on the amazing work you are accomplishing together
5. Share stories of “What I Did on My Summer Vacation”
Do you remember the writing assignments about “What I Did on My Summer Vacation?” Maybe we’ve grown out of the writing essays stage. But that doesn’t mean we can take some time and grab lunch or coffee with our co-workers and share a bit about our summers. Maybe it was your time at the lake or a trip you took to the beach. Either way, set aside some time to visit with your co-workers and share stories of what’s going on in your worlds. Sometimes things move so quickly in our jobs that we forget that we really work in the relationship business, not the money business. We work so hard on our external relationships with our donors, clients and benefactors; however, when is the last time we really invested in the people we work with day in and day out. Sometimes our internal relationships are the ones lacking the most. Make it a point in the next few weeks to catch up with your teammates and truly listen to what’s going on in their world. It will pay dividends for years to come.
So, as we say goodbye to summer and welcome the fall, I hope you all are refreshed and energized from your wonderful summers! And I hope you are ready to tackle the year ahead by making the world a better place through your work in your amazing respective nonprofits. As always, it is truly an honor to share the journey with you!