Archive for April, 2008

Capitalize on the uniqueness of the sector.

Posted on April 30, 2008. Filed under: Nonprofit | Tags: , , , , |

In one of my last few classes, we discussed challenges in the nonprofit sector and what is unique about the nonprofit sector. As we began our two lists it was evident the challenges list was much longer. It rather saddened me; the sector I love really has these many challenges?

However, I am not worried, I know there are many good things going on in the nonprofit sector, and we really need to emphasize our good aspects. So, here is a list of the unique aspects of the nonprofit sector.

  1. We can do a lot with a little amount of money. Nonprofit organizations are professionals at making a huge impact with a little amount of money. Sometimes it may seem like the lack of money in the sector is one of things holding the sector back, but there is a plethora of innovative nonprofit leaders that know how to work with whatever they have. Nonprofit leaders make it happen no matter what the circumstances. And just because they don’t have a lot of money, doesn’t mean they don’t pay their employees 🙂
  2. Nonprofits have a knack for working at the grassroots level and mobilizing communities. Organizations like the Civil Rights Movement and the Women’s Voting Rights Movement were supported by the work of the nonprofit sector. Today, like the time during these movements, many nonprofit organizations start with members of the community, banding together to fight a cause they believe in, or to make their community a better place to live. Because the nonprofit sector is so close to community, in most cases, organizations know how to bring the people together. It’s rare you see the McDonald’s down the road mobilizing individuals to run their microwaves!
  3. Our sector is built on giving instead of getting. Our sector is the only one in the world (one could argue for government, but their argument would be quit week), not built on the need for individual profits and making money for ourselves. Although many nonprofits make thousands a year, they give their profits back to the community they are working in. There are no bonus or stock option incentives for employees, but they are paid a decent wage, and the work they are doing gets continually supported through the extra money they raise each year. You don’t see Walmart corporation not giving bonuses, in order to enhance their educational program for youth in the inner cities, now do you!
  4. Our leaders are truly passionate. Ask any organization about the passion of their founder and I am sure they would all say, “Our founder was the greatest, most passionate person I have ever known or heard about.” Nonprofit leaders created their organizations out of need, and individuals who see the need for this organization are always passionate about making sure the community gets it. Many times nonprofit organizations are created because someone was left out of something or can’t get something they need, and need creates passion in individuals to get what they want. Individuals who care about others and want to serve community needs created the nonprofit sector, and those individuals have all the passion in the world for what they are doing.
  5. Nonprofit employees are truly hard working. Nonprofit sector employees, most of the time, become passionate about a cause and really go out on the streets to fight for it. And, as mentioned above, they have to work hard to do something with practically nothing. There is a lot of burnout in the sector, because the individuals working in organizations are so passionate, but the great nonprofit leaders find the balance they need to work hard in the sector and get things done!
  6. There is a lot of room for innovation in the sector. Although many nonprofit organizations get stuck in tradition and old business practices, there is a ton of room for innovation in the nonprofit sector. I think this is one of the reasons so many young people are drawn to the nonprofit sector. There is room for anyone with an idea to execute it for their cause. There is risk with innovation in the sector, as in any sector in America, but if innovation is planned and well executed, there is room for it here in the nonprofit sector. Check out Kiva.org or Ashoka.org to see some innovative nonprofit professionals.

Have you had any experiences with the unique aspects of the nonprofit sector? What other good things do you see in the sector?

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I wish I had my cat’s persistence.

Posted on April 27, 2008. Filed under: Millennial | Tags: , , , |

Every morning we wake up to mews, loud mews, that persist on-and-on through the morning until Lucy (that’s our cat) gets fed. She repeats her ritual when we get home from work until she gets fed again. She knows when it’s her time and she let’s us know until we feed her. Lucy also plays fetch and when she wants to play she brings us her mouse toy, rubber band or milk ring, and places it by our side. If she can’t get it up on the couch she tries again, if it drops, she tries again until it is laying still on the couch for us to throw. She never gives up.

This morning as she was meowing to wake me up and feed her, I was thinking, man I wish I had her persistence. There are actually two things I can learn from her.

  1. Be persistent, never give up. This doesn’t mean run around yelling until someone acknowledges you, but being persistent in reaching your goals is definitely a good lesson. If your milk ring falls off the couch or your human just isn’t paying attention to you, try to do it another way. It is important that as we are trying to prove ourselves to our bosses or to the nonprofit sector in general we keep on trying, even if it takes us three times taking on a new task or continually taking on the tasks no one else wants to do. As an emerging leader it is important to keep on building your skills and taking on stretch assignments at work. And never give up, because your time will come.
  2. Wait until its your time. Commonly, Millennials want to have the best now. I know it was a lesson I had to learn. It’s hard walking into an organization ready to lead and take on new exciting projects and not being able to do either. Although we are ready to take on the world we sometimes have to put our time in. I have recently come to terms with this and have been using every experience as a learning experience and another task that will help me grow. It is important to keep on persisting in your organization and doing everything you can to get ahead, but when its your time make sure they know it. When your employer finally gives you that one task you have been waiting for, blow them out of the water. Lucy doesn’t just mew a little, she really let’s us know it is her time.

These lessons from the cat are important to any Millennial. We must work for what we want, be persistent, and when it’s our time we have to show them we can do it.

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Thursday links on social entrepreneurship & nonprofit innovation.

Posted on April 24, 2008. Filed under: Links |

To help me keep my thoughts in order and to keep my readers up to date, I have started this post to bring together the important links on social entrepreneurship over the last couple weeks. There is going to be a great mix of articles and blogs from all over the internet, social entrepreneurship is in many forms. Every other Thursday I will post a few links from the web I have come across during the week.

What has happened the past couple of weeks in social entrepreneurship:

Growth in the Nonprofit Sector

Should the Government Dissuade Charities From Forming? – Philanthropy.com

This article discusses the place of government in limiting the amount of new nonprofits formed.

Nonprofit vs. Small Business

FT.com / Wealth – Charity must harness power of politics

This article explains the possibility of return on investment in the nonprofit sector.

Note to Small Businesses: Nonprofits Feel Your Pain (and Your Joy)

Small businesses and nonprofits are a lot alike.

Non-Profits are Not Businesses « CFC Treasures by Bill Huddleston

An article about the differences in nonprofits and business, although many nonprofits take on some businesslike operations.

Should Philanthropy And Business Mix? – Philanthropy.com

Philanthrocapitalism, is it good or bad for the nonprofit sector? Another skeptic about businesses taking on nonprofit ventures.

Examples of great social entrepreneurs.

Social entrepreneurship: Innovative care for the elderly

A great example of what social entrepreneurs are doing in the nonprofit sector.

microfranchising: Franchises for Kids in U.S., could it work elsewhere?

Social venture and youth.

Keeping your social entrepreneurship sustainable.

The Entrepreneurial Mind: Social Ventures Need to Have Market Relevance

An entrepreneurs take on being effective…you have to do it.

The business of doing good: How to start a social enterprise – 11 Apr 2008

An article about the UK’s social enterprise sector and how to get involved in social enterprise yourself.

Social Innovation Conversations | Stanford Discussions | Jennifer Aaker

A podcast on creating a strong nonprofit brand.

Mission based Innovation

Social Innovation Conversations | Stanford Discussions | Chip Heath

A podcast about missions that inspire.

When Tech Innovation Has a Social Mission – New York Times

This article discusses social enterprise in the world of technology. Techsoup is a great example.

6 Keys to Developing Your Initiative : Brazen Careerist

A great article about developing the habit of action and taking action now.

I Blew Off the Boomer Advice and Got Started on My Dream Right Away : Brazen Careerist

As a Millennial you sometimes have to go with what you think is best. Baby Boomers have good advice, but it’s not always the right advice.

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