4 ways to bring your non-profit into 2014

I strongly believe the ground is moving under the non-profit world. There are newer, leaner, more efficient non-profits popping up every day that have a global reach. How are they doing it?

They are doing it because they start inside a new working infrastructure. They are starting with high speed wireless internet in an app based world unlike many non-profits started prior to 1990, which currently dominate the fundraising landscape. They appear innovative but all they have done is start within a modern context so they are not confined to recreating older systems.

Some non-profits are struggling to keep up with the times.  Are we talking about you here? If so, here are four ways to jump into 2014 with your non-profit.

The office - What’s the point anymore? If you’re paying for wifi at an office and for wifi at home, don’t you feel like you’re waisting money on one of those fronts? I learned yesterday there are co-op office spaces you can rent by the day if you need to have a place to focus for as little as $15. Not to mention some of my favorite remote office spaces like Panera, the public library, and 100 other coffee shops in a city offering free wifi.

File cabinet - If file cabinets are still your main source of keeping information you’re making life hell for your replacement. In 2014 go paperless. Take advantage of cloud services like Dropbox, Google Drive, etc… Or go get a terabyte external hard drive and begin the process of moving every document that matters to digital. Plus, this will help you move out of the office and be able to work from anywhere.

Conference Calls - The conference call is still a good idea but there are better ways to do it. Google Hangout and services like Skype or Zoom.us have changed the way we can actually see each other for a face to face conversation instead of wondering if Bobby has his line on mute while he plays Candy Crush durring the call.

Large, formal fundraisers - I’m not telling you throw away the piggy bank, I’m just making a suggestion you spend some time looking into and researching CrowdFunding to ADD TO your event strategy. Here is an article from Forbes on the top 10 CrowdFunding sites. I used FundEasy.com in 2013 to increase revenue for a fundraising event and it exceeded my expectations! Help your tribe raise money for your organization in a NEW way.

Is there anything you would add or had success with in 2013 that others should consider doing in 2014? Please leave a comment below!

Can you be the leader we need for the next ten years?

The constants are disappearing for non-profits and business alike.

What does that mean?  It means 10 years ago we had far more constants in the daily functions of our work.  Systems, or processes, were created for consistent results.  The tools we used developed much slower, which meant we had more time to adjust to the processes we need to get work done.  Think about it.  How often was Microsoft Windows updated?  There was five years between Windows 3.0 and Windows 95.  Then three years later Windows 98 was released.  Windows XP was released in 2001, four years later.  And this is just software.  I can remember having a desktop computer in Elementary school and still had one on my desk for my first job after college in 2000.

For our organizations, teams, or businesses to flourish in the next 10 years we have to adjust to having far less constants.  "This is the way we do this."  As leaders we can't take this stance trying to make any process, training method, or work flow a constant. Because the tools change too quickly and the learning styles of each new generation change as well.

Please realize the current high school kid is more familiar with Google Docs then they are with Microsoft Office.  They are more familiar with Gmail than they are with Outlook.  They get information from Twitter instead of the newspaper.  They submit their homework through email and Blackboard instead of hand writing their homework.  They are also a Mac based generation.  Our local school district supplies every high school kid with a MacBook Air.  Change will not be a phrase anymore, it will be the daily work flow.

As a non-profit director I used to view the world this way: Processes or work flow are a constant.  People are the variables.  But it's time to adapt because now I view the world this way: Core values are the constant.  People and processes, or work flow, are variables.  And I feel this way because tomorrow a new app can be released, which changes the way I daily work.

On a weekly basis I use tools like:

  • Boomerang - A application added to Gmail allowing me to schedule emails and set time limits to resend emails if they aren't opened.
  • PicMonkey - A free photo editing software online.
  • Dropbox - Additional computer memory through cloud technology.
  • MailChimp - A mass email system to communicate well to multiple audiences.
  • Podcasts - I have probably learned more in two years from podcasts than I did in my Undergrad studies.

I didn't use any of these two years ago.  Whereas I once had five years to be familiar with work flow between Microsoft updates.

If you want to flourish in the next ten years you can't afford to dig your heels in and pour concrete around them in regards to creating constant work flow systems.  Nor will you be allowed to lead and bury your head in the sand to protect yourself from changing technology. It simply will not work.  We are not dealing with generations expecting constants.  We are dealing with a generation that expects apps on their phone to be updated monthly.  These generations will either find a more efficient means around your attempt at creating constant work flow or jump ship to another team or organization who is adapting to change.  Create an environment where people are rewarded for creating change according to core values instead of people being rewarded for creating safe and trackable work flow.  This is how you can begin to succeed in the next 10 years.

What Compassion International is doing that every Non Profit should Emulate

Seth Godin in his amazing book Tribes defines a tribe as being connected to a leader, connected to one another, and connected to an idea. It's almost too simple to lead a tribe. You would think it would be the opposite. If an organization had a massive reach it would be complicated to harness the power of it's tribe. But the reason most organizations struggle to engage their tribe is they falsely believe their tribe is connected to their brand. This could be true in profit industry where a product meets demand and obviously turns a profit. But what if your product is a story about a changed life half way across the globe? What if your product is the story of a changed high school kid that no one else knows? What if your product is the restoration of a homeless person in your local community? What if these products were the identity of the organizational brand? How do we expose this fantastic story to the world?

You don't. Because the world can't pay attention long enough to a story that isn't colliding with their world all the time.

Instead share the story with your tribe and let them do the talking for you.

One organization is leading the way when it comes to tribal leadership and it's working!!! Compassion International makes my heart beat faster because of their innovative way of spreading their message through social media.

Here's what they did:

1. They found a leader - The "about" on Shaun Groves' blog reads this, "Shaun Groves is a husband, father, singer and communicator connecting the first world with the third world for the benefit of both." I won't go into all the details because they can be found here but Compassion found someone who had a tribe as a singer, he was in their tribe as an organization, and they gave him permission to engage his tribe and their tribe in a whole new platform: Social Media.

2. They connected the tribe: Through Shaun's leadership Compassion has created a program known as "Compassion Bloggers." This is brilliant! Bloggers apply to go see what Compassion does for kids in other countries and Compassion pays their way to go see it. In return, these bloggers write about their experience on their own blogs. Do you see the brilliance in this? An organization with a tribe. A singer/blogger with a tribe. Lots of other bloggers with each of their own tribes. And all these tribes become one around the work Compassion is doing. The best part is that they are all able to connect to one another through social media. Wow!

3. The idea is crystal clear: I've noticed most non-profits know what they do better than any other organization. And when that moment happens, because it's the best thing and it energizes their workers no one has their "sharing caps" on. As in no one is thinking, "This is such an awesome moment I should step back and take a picture so I can tell the tribe about how great this moment really is." This is why the Compassion strategy is brilliant. They use bloggers, people who live to tell stories, to tell their best stories for them. With this many eye witnesses sharing the vision becomes crystal clear.

So kuddos to you Compassion International and to Shaun Groves! The work you are doing inspires me and it's engaging. Keep up the awesome stuff you are doing, it's making all of us lead our tribes better.

The danger you face by living a mediocre story

People want to be known.  They want to be a critical part of a story.  It makes sense that the Golden Rule works, do onto others as you would have them do unto you.  The rule is an evaluation of your story and the opportunity to create something better in someone else's story. Is there a more powerful leadership tool than the Golden Rule?  Is the greatest danger to our leadership to settle for a mediocre story?  Those people, or leaders, who had the greatest impact in my life were people I saw desiring to live a great story.  Every once in a while I think it's okay to ask yourself as a leader, "If I was reading my own story, would I turn to the next page and keep reading?"