Archive for March, 2016

8 Steps to Building a Nonprofit Career

What are your nonprofit career goals? Are you considering making a career change within the sector? Or do you see yourself advancing in your organization over the next few years? Either way, it is important to set goals. Bridgespan and former Bridgespan partner Wayne Luke discuss the steps to building your career in the nonprofit sector with Building a Nonprofit Career Path. 1. Focus on your current job. Do your best at your current position. If you are thinking about trying to advance within your organization or are thinking about a career change, doing your best now will pay off in the end. 2. Ask yourself questions. Do you work better independently or cooperatively? What skills do you bring to the sector? Are you doing this for you or for what everyone wants? Think about the type of position you would enjoy in the sector. 3. Establish goals. Create a list of 4 or 5 general goals that you would like to accomplish in the future. Avoid salaries and titles but do include what you expect to achieve in the nonprofit sector. Luke suggests goals such as “I need to be in a situation where I am constantly learning” or “I…

4 Top Productivity Tips for Busy Nonprofit Pros

There are many ways to increase productivity at your nonprofit, so get ready to benchmark new achievements to share with your donors and supporters. Alex Neuhoff and Robert Searles, who appear in the Stanford Innovation Review, offer some helpful tips to put you on the right track. Standardize Best Practices—Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, perfect what you already know works and produce results. Invest in Critical Activities and Staff—Determine which activities are most important and critical to the success of your organization. Invest more time, energy and manpower in those specific tasks. Manage Costs Effectively—Monitor administrative and personnel costs more closely, and remember to include major costs like salaries or stipends. Continuously look for ways to keep your costs low or even cut expenses that may no longer serve your mission. Measure Your Progress—Create a system that allows you to track your progress and the results of your work. If you do this, you will be most effective at implementing best practices. This is also a great time to fine-tune and revisit tasks that may need a little more attention. Jane D. Callahan, who has more than 25 years of experience as a tax attorney and represents a…

6 Must-Ask Questions in a Performance Review

If you—or your employees—dread performance reviews, then there is something very wrong with the way they are being conducted. When the right questions are asked properly, the exercise can actually increase both your organization’s impact and employee engagement. The nonprofit sector accomplishes some amazing things on a daily basis. While attempting to solve the problems of the world, the minutia of setting up practical business processes can often get pushed to the back burner. But, attention to this detail pays off. Increasing Impact Could you possibly deliver on this mission by yourself? Of course not! It takes a team, working well together, to accomplish your goals. Rather than leading with heart only, lead with your brain. “Identify, track, and document” is the very best approach to having more impact—as an organization, and as a member of the team. Increasing Employee Engagement A well-planned and well-executed performance review can bolster employee engagement in a number of ways. Start by clearly defining expectations and setting clear goals and benchmarks. It’s neither productive, nor fair, to blind-side employees during a review. Having clearly stated goals allows you and your employees to check progress informally between reviews and monitor progress. This allows for identification…

Why You Absolutely Need to Take That Vacation

It’s that time of year when vacations start to kick in gear—spring break for the kids, holiday travel, or, just time out of the office. And although the vacation itself is fun, the stress of preparing the office for your absence may not be so delightful. Fortunately, good planning can put most fears to rest. Don’t be tempted to put off vacation or worse yet, to take a vacation that really isn’t a vacation because you are taking calls and answering emails. Kadi McDonald penned an article for Third Sector Today that gives some real-life reasons to get out of the office now. Why You Absolutely Need to Take That Vacation Your team needs you to take a break. In stressful or high-demand work environments, it can sometimes become overwhelming to have to present to a manager all the time. When you’re not there, this gives your team some time to focus. Not only that, it gives them a confidence boost that they’re able to hold down the fort when you’re not around. Your brain will work much better if you give it some time to clear. Full time employment is stressful. And that’s not even including what it takes…

The Changing Face of Temporary Staffing

The hit TV show, Mad Men, aired its final episode on May 17, 2015 after a seven season, 92 episode run. It’s taken a little longer for the proverbial “Kelly Girl” image of temporary staffing to complete its run, but we’re almost there. Today, nonprofit organizations rely on temp or contract workers for just about everything, including event management, donor data, field ops and HR. These individuals are career-driven with high skill sets and are adept at networking. The American Staffing Association reported in December that 3.32 million temporary employees and contractors found work through an employment agency, an increase of 1.8% from 2014 and the highest third quarter since 2000. “Staffing employment continues to grow as the demand for talent increases, and, with 5.4 million job openings in the U.S., there are lots of opportunities for job seekers looking for flexible or permanent positions,” ASA president and CEO Richard Wahlquist noted. Granted, many of the 3.32 million are not serving in the nonprofit sector. However, nonprofit organizations are increasingly utilizing temps to fill not only temporary short-term vacancies, but to fill high demand, short term projects such as fundraising event management, data entry, 990 filings, and more. For many…

Using Skype for Job Interviews

Skype has been around for quite some time – long before FaceTime and Google Hangouts. It was a lifesaver when I was interning in the United Kingdom in college and it was especially handy when I wanted to see my dog while I was away at school. But one of the most innovative – and expense reducing – Skype uses is the job interview. With several video chat programs out there, it’s possible to use virtually any device with a camera to conduct an interview these days. And you absolutely should. The obvious plusses: You don’t have to worry about being onsite. You can interview people from all over the world in the same exact way. And, from the perspective of a Millennial, this makes you look like an incredibly cutting edge company. There are obviously some disadvantages to a digital interview. But here are a few ways to set expectations, eliminate those disadvantages, and get everything you need out of the Skype interview. Test your connection…and the software. You’ve got to know the software and the hardware and you need to make sure that everything works properly. Nothing screams “YOU DON’T WANT TO WORK HERE” louder than a 10-minute…

Looking Outside to Strengthen Inside

The changing business landscape has forced companies to constantly evaluate and redefine their concept of working teams, and how these teams are constructed. The evolution of management priorities, along with advances in technology, has pushed organizations toward leaner and more flexible structures. Nonprofit organizations, like their for-profit brethren, are realizing the need to specialize in order to differentiate from competitive organizations. They’re choosing to be unique to someone over being everything to everyone. They’re choosing to cultivate talent and focus on services that support core strengths. The looming question is how to fill the gaps that fall outside of core strengths. Many organizations turn to outsourcing, a growing trend consistent with the need to produce more with less. This is particularly applicable to marketing. With the right talent, outsourcing doesn’t have to feel like working with an outsider. Whether the arrangement is temporary project-based assistance or freelance assignment, the benefits most often far outweigh the cost. Sometimes, we can’t see the forest for the trees. Outside strategists can introduce a fresh perspective and help you gain altitude to see the problem in new ways. External resources come with added expertise. The growing demand for content marketing requires organizations to tell…

The Social Entrepreneur aka The Social Enterprise

The nonprofit sector is an incredible force given all the good it does every year. Quite literally, it is a source with which to be reckoned, as it makes up about 10% of the US work force. Those who work at nonprofit organizations take the task of improving the social and cultural fabric of our world very seriously. Made up of roughly 1.5 million organizations in the US, nonprofits address issues ranging from local animal rescue to helping underserved autistic populations learn skills that will make them employable them as they age out of programs and into adulthood. At the heart of every legitimate organization is a mission that has an impact. The traditional sources for funding of nonprofits has always been charitable—be it private funding, individual donations, grants, or otherwise. Straightforward donations and fundraisers have been the most popular sources of financial development. But, that is changing with the times. Enter the Social Entrepreneur. Just as technology has changed consumer behavior over the years, philanthropy, too, is changing. And technology (especially social media) has democratized philanthropy. Now, anyone with a smartphone can easily support a friend’s attempt to raise funds for their charity of choice with just a couple…

5 Great Blogs about Nonprofit Leadership to Put on Your Reading List

Whether you are leading a nonprofit team, a project, an agency, cultural institution, or angling to be the leader in your next career move, you’ll learn something along the way if you stay connected to these 5 great nonprofit leadership blogs. 1. Nonprofit With Balls If you prefer to read leadership advice with a lot of bite, humor, and pop culture references, you really must subscribe to Vu Lee’s blog, Nonprofit With Balls. The blog covers a wide range of topics which affect all leaders in nonprofit, but with an infectiously witty slant. Want to better understand job descriptions for an open position? Be sure to refer to his recent post, “Common nonprofit terms and concepts and what they actually mean.” Otherwise you won’t realize that “a dynamic work environment” is often code for “a very disorganized group”. 2. Seth’s Blog Leadership isn’t sector or job specific. It can help you in your journey to become a better person, one who can inspire others to give their best, whether it is your kid or your co-workers. A very literal characteristic of a leader is being the one who goes first. You’ll be hard pressed to find a more forward-thinking blogger…

Top 3 Myths About NonProfit Jobs

Working in the nonprofit sector can be an incredibly rewarding experience, and it’s common to find middle and upper-class working Americans who decide to leave the corporate world — and all of the financial benefits it can provide — for a job at a nonprofit company. With over 1.53 million organizations classified as tax-exempt non-profits, it’s just as easy to find a great career at a nonprofit firm as it is finding a job at a for-profit company. The problem is, however, that nonprofit jobs are all too often given unflattering stereotypes that make great candidates turn away. So what are some of the most common misconceptions about jobs at nonprofit organizations? Let’s take a quick look: Myth 1: You won’t get paid as much if you work at a nonprofit. Many people mistakenly believe this because nonprofit organizations need to do so much fundraising to cover basic costs (including salaries). In reality, the fact that nonprofits don’t retain extra money doesn’t have any bearing on what the average salary would be, especially compared to an equivalent job at a for-profit company. Myth 2: Nonprofit companies are full of hippies. Okay, there are definitely some companies that fit this stereotype…