Last month I wrote about the importance of nonprofit boards and staffs having passion for their mission and focusing on that during this season. I wanted to continue to write about this subject so I posted the question, “What are your ideas for how nonprofits should demonstrate a Passion for their Mission?” on LinkedIn and got some thoughtful responses that I’d like to share with you today.
Jane Garthson, a well known Leadership and Integrity Consultant to Non-Profit Organizations based in Toronto encourages us to demonstrate your passion for the cause by truly working to achieve the cause – and measuring your progress towards achieving your mission. I plan to write about measurement in 2009 and I will come back to Jane’s message again when I do.
Kristy Alberty, Executive Communications Manager at the National Indian Child Welfare Association writes: “We recently added a new column in our quarterly newsletter, The Heart of the Matter, which are member testimonials. However, it has generated unexpected outpouring of personal stories (not membership-related service stories) from people impacted by our topic. I've occasionally shared those personal stories at our all-staff meetings to remind staff why we are here, who we serve, and the realities of issues/problems. It gives staff first-person perspectives, strong emotional input, and reminds staff of our mission and purpose.“
Leslie Birch, President of Human+Nature, a company which develops video/media for Nonprofits shared this great project: “My friend's non-profit recently did a quilt with seniors and students that was also available as a "virtual" quilt on-line. You could click on a square and hear a story about a senior. Fun stuff!” What a creative idea!
In my last post I discussed my plans for an activity at the annual meeting of the nonprofit whose Board I am Vice President of. We wanted to take some time to re-focus on our mission this year. At table groups, individuals shared their personal stories of why they have a passion for our mission and then highlights were presented to the whole group. We learned about the father who brings his children to events in the inner city that we sponsor and how this has been enriching for his family. The lawyer on our Board surprised me when she said she mentioned Friendly Fuld to her grandmother and she was a participant in our programs many years ago. A retired teacher told of how she had initiated community service at the private prep school where she taught and it grew into the strong relationship with our programs that it is today. A father told of how his son was a student doing community service and it had such an impact on his son that is what led to his own involvement. The exercise was a great team builder as we learned more about each other and our personal stories that weave us together in our work to help strengthen children and families in Newark.
I think it was helpful for each of of us to remind ourselves why we are involved with the nonprofits we love. I recommend this type off exercise for your Board and staff groups and a re-charge.
Passion for the mission is critical - its not the whole thing you still have to pay the bills - but it is a critical ingredient in making your nonprofit who you are.
Read more about those whose thoughts I’ve shared with you today:
Jane Garthson's website
National Indian Child Welfare Association
Marion Conway Consulting