One of the neat things about working in a nonprofit is the pretty much universal assumption that there is always something you could do better. You could find better ways to thank your donors, you could find creative ways to assure donor retention, you could improve or change how you communicate and what you communicate, you could do more with metrics or enhance your story telling.
I am totally guilty of being among those who constantly suggest better ways to operate your organization. This includes a lot of the fun stuff: board minutes, staff evaluations, financial reports, mandatory federal and state paperwork that no one wants to pay for but has to be done. And I am going to suggest one additional item on your endless list, but is the most important of all:
Protect Your Magic
Your magic is what makes you special, what sets you apart from others. Nonprofit work is never easy, never without challenges that would confound larger, for profit companies. You do more with less, for longer. This work is something you chose, or maybe it chose you, nevertheless, the magic is your vision for change, your passion to make it happen, and your willingness to put your head down and make it come true.
Yeah, It Can be Messy
The demands for more and faster can burn out the most dedicated, and your passion has to withstand these assaults. Sometimes the urgent does outshout the important, some things are constant irritating little ankle biters, and some things can seem like the Titanic’s iceberg.
Protect how much you care and when it feels like it is simply too much, take a deep breath and step back for a little bit. Sit back in your chair and reconnect with why you are doing all of this in the first place. Think about the end result of this labor: those who can now vote when they had not been able to before, the wagging tail of a dog or purring of a rescued cat, the clean running stream now free of garbage or the smile on a kid’s face. That is because of you.
Actions Speak Louder Than Words, as usual
If I had 5 cents for every time I heard someone say they were going to start a nonprofit, I might be able to solve world hunger. People talk about what they would do or could do, but in reality, don’t. You are the one who is going to make things better, and you are making a difference, even if you can’t see it sometimes.
Honor yourself by protecting yourself and your commitment. Don’t let the minutiae dominate your day and or the process inhibit your passion. Maybe the books aren’t as neat as they could be, maybe your minutes are a little sparse, maybe the filing drawer is backing up, and of course, you could do it better. But don’t lose sight of the fact you ARE doing it- that’s magic.
And if no one has said this to you lately, thank you for what you are doing.
Image credit: http://img2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20101023093343/diablo/images/f/fe/Wizard-top.jpg