Here’s part two of leading your nonprofit. What does it take?
Ask yourself what you don’t know about your organization. Sit in on programs. Learn the stories, meet the people, ask them questions on how you can help them. Learn how to fundraise better from your staff, and from workshops. Get curious about everything.
8. Ability to see that your people are your greatest resource.
Invest in them. Get them training. Praise them. Get them up-to-date technology. Figure out how to ask them good questions. Know that no matter how great you think you are, your team will decide if you succeed.
9. Ability to create systems to help your nonprofit become ever more efficient.
Get a database in place as quickly as you can. See if you can move office supplies closer to where you use them. Try to reduce the number of steps you take to do things. If advocacy at government levels is what really needs to happen to solve the problem, then make it happen.
10. Ability to genuinely thank and look for ways to compliment staff, donors, funders and volunteers every week.
Basic management skills. Learn them. This is how you can motivate others.
11. Ability to take responsibility for your mistakes, and always praise the team, never toot your own horn.
Again, basic management techniques. When you praise yourself, you just look pompous. When you praise others, you look extremely confident and generous. Which would you rather be?
12. Ability to understand the dynamics of oppression and rankism.
Always seek to play the activist and persuader ranks. If you catch yourself falling into another rank, such as a gangster or a bully, apologize and empower your team to tell you when they notice you slipping.
13. Ability to get great board members and keep them engaged and motivated.
This is a learned skill. Ask your development or marketing department who to start with.
14. Ability to build coalitions between programs, and other nonprofits, to maximize your resources.
This is similar to being efficient and effective. Seek to be a connector, not a divider. Always think the best of other, possibly competing nonprofits. You can do more together for your shared cause.
It’s not that much, to lead a nonprofit. If you follow these steps, it can be extraordinarily simple.
Here are a few admonitions.
15. Don’t complain.
No matter how hard it is to keep your kids in private school and take your annual trip in your brand new family vehicle with your Executive Director salary, nobody in your nonprofit is going to have any sympathy for you. Because you make more than they do, dummy.
16. Don’t fuck your volunteers.
I hate that I even have to say this, but really. Be professional. Go and find someone else to have a relationship with.
17. Don’t try to run for office.
Do one thing at a time. Either lead a nonprofit, or run for office. Don’t do both. You will do a bad job at each. If you MUST do both, then have the decency to mention your nonprofit cause in every speech, and put it all over your campaign website.
18. Don’t use office resources for your own personal projects.
Bring in your own ream of paper. You can afford it. You think your staff won’t notice, but they will, and then they will have less respect for you, and for the organization, and won’t think much of using office resources for their own personal projects as well. I shouldn’t have to say this either, but you’re a ROLE MODEL. Act like one.
19. Don’t steal from your nonprofit.
You will get caught.
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