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Moving Full Speed Ahead, With Purpose

Moving Full Speed Ahead, With Purpose

A new year means new goals. This year‘s goal: seek to create your normal by reaching out and building the future.

We may yearn for the day when we knew what to anticipate but that was a weary time too. Let’s not return to what we knew as normal but reach out and utilize this opportunity. Our sector has been known to be behind the times or even outdated. This is our time. Our time to turn the page into a new era and let our work, our purpose, and our missions shine.

Fresh goals, focused intentions, and better systems

There is something about a new year that is revitalizing. There are several places we can start fresh and collectively create change. Let’s start now, assess our actions and set new goals.

Goals help us align our focus to work with purpose and intention. Yet to achieve those goals, we must establish new systems. It’s the system that determines success more so than the goal. Many of us are working with outdated systems, processes, and procedures which have stood the test of time; however, this is a new phase. Others already have adopted new systems and are well on the way to reaching fresh possibilities.

We’ve been doing a great job of working through the twists and turns presented to us; now let’s aspire to embrace 2022 with a new sense of purpose and redefine our direction.

Here are five aspirations to consider.

1. Goal: Create and innovate
System: Build consensus among clients, staff, and volunteers to identify gaps and service opportunities.
Some of you may think much of your work over the past few months has been innovation. You’re right. Keep up the good work and keep innovating.
However, we’ve also learned a term called creative fatigue. The difference is, we had to be creative to meet the demands as they came flooding in. That was reactionary. We’ve managed through the shift and our organizations have adjusted to being proactive in our approach with systems that will guide us into the future.
Organizations, and especially those most proximate to communities of color, have a long history of creating novel solutions, and the speed with which you've moved to respond to communities in crisis, uncertain funding, or social distancing has been awe-inspiring. The organizations that use change to adapt can thrive and succeed through these conditions.
We want to acknowledge that many nonprofits have stepped up and are leading the way with their creativity, innovation, and stamina. Well done! We see you, and we thank you for your leadership. Connect with other nonprofit professionals and engage in discussions to learn what other organizations are doing. Learn about our Roundtable programs coming up here.

2. Goal: Aspire to shift the organization
System: Examine traditional methods and explore present-day options.
Aspiration is the knowledge that we can make tomorrow better than today. The way we’ve always done things has come into question. Our organizations have adopted practices and procedures that are decades if not centuries old. (Some of you are working off of bylaws that old too. You know who you are.) Embrace this time to re-examine fundamental assumptions and imagine a different future. Starting right now, what can be changed to make this “our” time? How can we establish new norms that meet us where we are today? What should be implemented to fill the gaps?
Nonprofits will continue to re-imagine themselves and create new approaches to pursue their missions. This is a moment for us to lead and to disrupt what has stood in the way of the change we’ve wanted and to accelerate what’s possible. Stay informed with what we’re doing at Nonprofit Connect by subscribing, or whitelisting our weekly eNewsletter, the LINK.

3. Goal: Equitable wages
System: Assess compensation to be equitable and budget for it.
Our sector has a reputation for low wages. Yes, the work is rewarding and harder than many might think. Yet we keep at it because we are passionate about doing work that makes a difference. Let’s move full speed ahead to raise wages in our sector. This will take time. It isn’t as easy as just waving a wand and everyone gets more money. Systems have to be established, workloads may need to shift, and fundraising will need to be tweaked.
We’ve heard from many organizations that are doing well despite everything. This is terrific news. The nonprofit sector has risen to the occasion to be at the front lines bringing resources and relief in a variety of areas. Our missions are only fulfilled when we have hard-working dedicated employees delivering the services and products. Let’s change the stigma and show society that it is possible to work hard, earn a livable wage, and make a positive impact on our community. I think we’ll find we have happier employees and better-served clients.
Momentum. We’ve all felt a big shift in the workforce. I recently heard that we have advanced 20 years in just a handful of years. No wonder so many of us are feeling exhausted! A couple of years ago we were talking about how the nonprofit sector needed to pay more to be competitive in the market. That realignment is taking place. We are so encouraged to see it unfold. When the time is right, post your openings on our job board to take advantage of the great talent pool our community has to offer.

4. Goal: Retool organization culture
System: Intentionally define the desired culture with everyone contributing
People feel more disconnected than ever before. Working from home can pose challenges to how people connect and work together, so we must rethink and retool our approach to culture. Compassionate and responsive communication still needs to maintain a priority whether working from home or in the office. 
Be honest with yourself about what works well and what is challenging. Be gracious with yourself and co-workers; it takes time to cultivate a positive mindset and mixed-use environment. Each employee is valued while the work gets accomplished and standards remain high. Setting and honoring positive intentions can help keep you motivated toward success. Everyone is responsible for contributing to a positive culture.
Nonprofit Connect has several programs coming up to help guide your thoughts on culture. Learn more here.

5. Goal: Keep learning
System: Explore and learn with professional development
Sharpen your skills and become innovative by learning new things and broadening your perspective. You become more resilient when you increase your capacity to produce and handle the challenges around you.
Embrace learning something new on purpose - not because you’ve been thrust into new routines but because it will help you, your organization, and ultimately your clients. It is so easy to get great professional development in this era of Zoom. Take advantage of the ease and access to great content that will guide your thoughts and efforts forward.
This is about being the best possible you. Permit yourself to do something for you every day. Start your day with a favorite song, time with family, playing a game, reading a book, or attending a Nonprofit Connect educational training.
Bottom line, the best way to achieve the goals we set out for ourselves or our organization is to create the system needed to achieve our aspirations. We’re noticing a new dedication to purpose. What is the core purpose of your organization? What is your purpose? How is this redefining of purpose making an impact? As we raise our sights, we elevate others.

We wish you a thriving 2022 as you work with purpose, on a mission, for a cause.

Luann Feehan, CEO

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