Make It Exciting

It seems like there is always a shortage of great nonprofit workers.  It is easy for a highly motivated individual to find a job in the for-profit world and that job probably pays better than a job in the nonprofit world.

The difference in pay is one of the reasons many choose to work for a for-profit.  There are other reasons those jobs appeal to the workers.  Some of those are under your control.  One thing you can control is the excitement level of the work.  Organizations that are doing exciting things in technology, medicine, chemistry, and other areas find it easy to recruit workers.

What exciting things is your nonprofit doing?

Your nonprofit is doing many exciting things but most people are unaware of it.  Your clients need innovation because their needs are constantly evolving.  Being involved in innovation is a way to bring additional excitement to your nonprofit and value to your clients and community.

Most people (volunteers, donors, staff, board, etc.) engage with nonprofits because they want to change the world.  Most people who work in one of the exciting, cutting-edge areas are there for the same reason.  Successful organizations in the cutting-edge areas are changing the world in a meaningful, measurable, and durable way.  They are doing what people who engage with your nonprofit want to do.

Does your nonprofit change the world in a meaningful, measureable, and durable way?

Ride sharing (Uber, Lyft, etc.) has certainly changed the world in meaningful, measurable, and durable ways.  Fulfilling the promise of your mission statement has the potential to be much more meaningful than creating a ride-sharing app.

For me, one of the more meaningful ways Uber has changed the world is to provide those with mobility restrictions or limited financial resources a less expensive transportation option.  For many, Uber provides something the rider needed but was unable to obtain.  For most nonprofits to top that, they will need to be doing some pretty exciting things in the near future.

While Uber seems to have a high level of sustainability, the durability of its services are limited to the duration of the ride.  Assuming your nonprofit truly makes a durable change in a client’s life, your nonprofit has the durability part of the equation solved, which will make increasing sustainability easier.

Next Step:

Find a way to make what your nonprofit does exciting for those connected to your nonprofit

Ensure keeping the promise of your mission statement means producing meaningful, measurable, and durable long-term changes in a client’s life (great outcomes)

Use the effort it takes to recruit donors, staff members, board members, other volunteers, referral sources, advocates and others as a success measure for the preceding two steps

Many nonprofits do the work of Sisyphus.  For instance, an employment services nonprofit’s clients find jobs but very few clients have stable employment for the rest of their lives or enjoy financial stability.  In another nonprofit, clients move into a shelters for the abused and live safely for a while but very few enjoy long-term safety and security in a healthy relationship.  It is hard for those associated with those organizations to feel excitement.  The prospect of doing that work for years has limited appeal for most people.  The engagement of the support systems (donors, volunteers, staff members, community, etc.) for many nonprofits is low.  As a result, the sustainability of most nonprofits is low.

Your clients want you to change that.  Your clients want to be excited about what your mission promises and they want to believe that the promise will make a significant impact on their lives and their future.

You can change the engagement level at your nonprofit by experimenting until you find a way to make your outcomes more meaningful, measurable, and durable.  The experimentation and pursuit of a better outcome will make your nonprofit more exciting to your entire support system.  The openness to finding the better way will create a flood of suggestions.  Trying some of the suggestions will give everyone hope that there is a new way forward just around the corner.

Making what is going on at your nonprofit exciting will change the future for everyone involved.

Take It Further:

Ask your board and donors for funding for the experimentation you want to do

Ask your board to accept risk and failure as the precursors to success

Fail small and often until you succeed big

Announce to the world that your nonprofit is looking for a new way forward and it wants input from anyone/everyone


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