School's Back - and So Are Nonprofits

It is that time of year where it appears everyone is filling backpacks with supplies for another school year. While your kids readjust to new schedules, I thought it might be a good time for those of us working with nonprofit organizations to refill our backpacks. With boards back in session and end of the year giving around the corner, now is a perfect time to review where your organization is and where you are going!  Here are four tips that I like to keep in my backpack:

1. Listen

How well are you listening, really listening to your staff, clients, and donors?  How can we each be more intentional and listen more than we speak?  WAIT (Why am I talking?) is a great reminder to give space to those around you to speak, and let yourself truly listen to what others are saying.

2. Reassess Roles

The start of a new year can be a perfect time to reassess who is responsible for what in your organization. Every year the Board of Directors should review their position description to ensure alignment with their responsibilities. A detailed review of staff roles should be done  annually. Having clarity in roles and responsibilities can bring a high return by creating an elegant, high functioning organization.

3, Don’t Underestimate the Value of Friendship

The ability to make and sustain positive relationships is key to any student’s success in school. And that remains true for nonprofits.  What is your organization doing to intentionally help create relationships? Are there activities for the staff to get to know one another outside of work?  What about the Board?  When is the last time you all had dinner together to just learn about each other?  Intentionally making time for relationship building can go a long way in creating individuals who are committed to your organization and one another.

4. Focus on the Positive

I have no doubt your organization is doing amazing work but how are you sharing that good work with others?  Review your communication plan and make sure your current and prospective donors are hearing about your impact.  How are you positioning your organization front and center as end of year giving begins?

It seems like a new school year is the perfect time to stop and reflect on these simple tips. Students and teachers have the opportunity to begin again.  So, why shouldn’t we?

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