by Priscilla Bratcher

Does anyone really like change? I’m not sure I know anyone who can accommodate major transitions without a level of anxiety and stress. Nevertheless, the old adage tells us that the only constant in life is change, so, stressful or not, it’s something we all face in the course of life: work, family, friendships, social connections and volunteering.

In Chapel Hill, there has always been a level of change with the influx of thousands of 18 year olds into our town every fall. But we are also seeing University Square come down right on Franklin Street, a former movie theatre and subsequent empty lot on the east side of town being prepared for hundreds of new apartments and shops, and our one and only mall displaying not only physical changes but a name change as well: University Mall to University Place. No matter where I am in town, I can’t seem to escape stark reminders of our evolving community.

Today, I’m writing to share a happy change with you. After three wonderful years with Armstrong McGuire, I am retiring from an active role with the firm. Although I will remain connected to my capable and exceptional Armstrong McGuire colleagues through phone calls, emails, coffees and lunches from time to time, my tenure as a lead consultant with clients is coming to an end.

As I have reflected on my time with this amazing group of people, I’ve tried to draw that narrative thread through all my various clients in order to learn my Armstrong McGuire lessons. Here are a few:

  • We are lucky to work in the nonprofit sector. So many of our fellow citizens come to a time in their lives when they feel an emptiness and try to find greater meaning through their work. Whenever you came to the conclusion that your life’s work would be devoted to serving others, whether as a college intern, a mid-life transition, or intentional education, let me just affirm that ours is the highest possible calling for anyone. So let’s take pride in our dedication to improving the lives of others and serving our communities.
  • We are flawed. Well now, there’s a surprise! Our own blind spots and preconceptions get in the way of our grand ideals sometimes. We fall into the trap of familiar patterns, without even realizing it. In a way, this is the best reason to get a new perspective from an outsider, either a volunteer or paid consultant.
  • We are passionate about our work. This can be incredibly motivating and also lead to frustration when we don’t quickly achieve the dreams we have for our organizations. A good plan can help alleviate that frustration. I once had a colleague who used to say “trust the process.” He had to say this to someone in our organization almost every day, but the wisdom of his words always calmed the hearer.
  • We are a community. In my experience over many years, nonprofit colleagues are always ready to listen, advise, and share experiences and even war stories. If you are not connected to the nonprofit sector, find a way to do so. Join the NC Center for Nonprofits, read the Chronicle of Philanthropy, join the Association of Fundraising Professionals, follow online blogs and regularly check websites serving the industry. There are many struggling with the same issues you face and whose wisdom can be helpful.

These observations are not new or unique to me. In fact, they’ve been true throughout the history of human endeavor. Another adage, coined by a clever Frenchman or Frenchwoman notes“Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.” The more things change, the more they remain the same.

As I close my final blog post, I want to say that working with Armstrong McGuire has been a rewarding and instructive stage of my nonprofit journey. I wish you great success in the future in fulfilling all your dreams. And don’t forget, sometimes the help of a good consultant is just what you most need.

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