With an undeniable spark, the fire is sure to spread.
This past week, four Nonprofit Hub staffers were volunteering at a leadership workshop for middle and high schoolers. This was my first year on the volunteer staff, and it was every bit as eye-opening for me as it was for the students attending the workshop.
After all, when you work in the nonprofit sector, you’re constantly looking for ways to improve your own organization and glean any ounce of insight from other nonprofits.
The tips below are just a glimpse of what I learned this week that can be applied to your own organization. In no way does it do justice to the impact I felt because of a magical organization called Launch Leadership.
A Stellar Mission Travels Quickly
I never attended the leadership workshop when I was in high school, making me an outlier of sorts. And yet for some reason, I wanted to help out so badly.
That reason was simple—everybody who talked about this organization lit up as they described the impact. I wanted that. I wanted to feel like I was making a difference. I wanted to help.
Your volunteers and staff are your gateway to success. When they’re shouting about the greatness of an organization from the rooftops, people take notice. When volunteers and staff are having a great time trying to help reach the mission, they will use their connections to tell the world about it. Launch also did an amazing job this week of encouraging positive social media interactions to help spread the word. They did this by setting daily themes, repeating hashtags and encouraging educational posts.
Set the right social media guidelines and encourage sharing if your organization can (some nonprofits have a mission where strict privacy policies must be implemented).
With the Right People, No Task is Impossible
Amy Poehler and her Parks & Recreation character Leslie Knope both said it best.
“Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.” —Amy Poehler
“We get to do work worth doing, alongside people we love.” —Leslie Knope, Parks & Recreation
It’s vital to work with a group of people who care about the success of the organization and would do anything for it. Launch Leadership is an entirely volunteer-run organization. That means countless hours are spent preparing for a workshop and other yearly events out of the goodness of people’s hearts, simply because they believe in the end-goal. All of the volunteers have extracurriculars—full-time jobs, school, other organizations they’re involved with, etc.
Finding the right people for your organization is incredibly important. While no volunteer is a bad volunteer (ok, maybe you have some horror stories), the people who genuinely care about your cause will stick around the longest. Never settle for mediocre. Recruit people who you feel are not only the best for the job, but who also have passion for the end goal.
It’s Important to Walk the Walk
Just because you work for a nonprofit organization doesn’t mean philanthropic ventures outside of your mission should come screeching to a hault. If anything, it’s refreshing to get out of the work you’re involved in and do new things. That gives you an opportunity to ignite your passion in other areas and develop new skills.
For us at Nonprofit Hub, it’s important to stay involved in other organizations because that’s who we’re writing for each and every day. For you, it’s important to walk the walk, too.
You can do this by observing the structure of other organizations. Catching a glimpse into the way another organization handles their volunteer programs or fundraising efforts can help spark ideas for your own organization. Walking the walk means constantly pushing to be better instead of just talking about being better. Broader perspectives help push you to make you better.
How will you use your other volunteer experiences to ignite a fire?