I consider it an unexpected but welcome gift whenever I get to have a quiet New Year’s Eve at home. It gives me a chance to clean up some of the clutter from the holiday season, watch the ball drop in Times Square from the comfort of my couch, steal a kiss from Mrs. Armstrong at the stroke of midnight, and generally know that I will wake up on January 1st clear-headed and refreshed rather than spending the day recovering from too much celebrating.
The first thing I did as midnight approached was to take a few minutes to count my many blessings in 2018. I was blessed with reasonably good health, a wonderful family, and a terrific team at Armstrong McGuire. I encountered countless acts of generosity, kindness, grace, and forgiveness throughout the year that have shown up in places and at times I least expected it. And, despite the tensions and anger that have dominated our political discourse on television, in the office, around the dinner table, etc., my friends are still my friends regardless of disagreements we may have on the current state of affairs. That one may be more than a blessing - it could be considered a small miracle.
I also took some time to remember the lives of some very special people who passed away this year and the gifts they left with me: a terrific father-in-law who gave me his blessing to marry his beautiful daughter 28 years ago; an amazing friend and business partner who always gave generously of his whole self to his family, to me, and to whoever needed what he could share, whenever we needed it; and a lady who gave me the gift of her listening ear when I needed to talk and her reassuring words and hugs when I needed to hear and feel them. So, a special thank you to Papa Jim, Tom, and Captain Judy for the gift of having each of you in my life and the lessons you taught me along the way.
With the accomplishments, lessons, memories, and losses of 2018 packed away (but never forgotten), I’m looking forward to whatever 2019 has in store!
So that’s me. As I think about the space where I plan on spending a lot of time in the coming year, I have three resolutions I offer as recommendations for all you nonprofit leaders. I hope you will take them to heart.
- First and foremost, remain committed to your mission, whatever it is, in serving our community. Stick to what you do best and what’s needed most. Don’t run your staff crazy chasing grants for new programs that don’t fit with who you are or creating new, time-consuming events that don’t raise the kind of money or build the kind of exposure you really need to do more of, or be better at, what you do.
- Build stronger relationships with people who are genuinely interested in your work. Take time throughout the year to spend with the volunteers, staffers, board members, event attendees, sponsors, traditional philanthropists, and social investors who surround you and have the power and passion to help you succeed. Let them know you appreciate them.
- Don’t be afraid to invest in the capacity-building needs of your organization and the people who drive it. Better technology, professional development, attention to equity, diversity and inclusion, organizational restructuring, strategic planning, and having some good old-fashioned fun at work are just a few ways to get the most out of your team.
I believe this will be a year that needs a strong nonprofit sector more than ever. Are you ready? Is your organization ready? We are counting on each of you to help #DoGreatThings for our community in 2019!