Perhaps like most of you, all of us who contribute to Northwest Nonprofit Notes have spent a lot of time this month thinking and talking about what actions we will take in this new political landscape. We are increasingly aware that the organizations we are privileged to serve in the nonprofit sector are inextricably tied to the values we most want to uphold: supporting and protecting the most vulnerable among us, caring for the earth, and standing up for our democracy. We offer these 5 articles in that spirit of taking action, in the hope that the ideas presented here will provide some measure of help and support as you go out and do the important work of acting on those missions which seem more relevant every day. In other words, we’re counting on you! And we stand beside you in that work.
In this issue:
- Sara Lawson reflects on how we can all be leaders in this time
- Dani Beam tells her own true story of a volunteer recruiting effort gone wrong (even though she really cared about the cause!) with tips for how you can avoid those same mistakes and engage more supporters
- Julie Edsforth provides a wealth of ideas and resources on how to onboard a new Executive Director or senior staff person to help them have a successful first year
- Emily Anthony walks you through how to manage a search process that includes an internal candidate with sensitivity and fairness
- Last, we debut a new feature, an article where we each share one favorite idea that you can use, all on the same topic. This time we focus on our “Best Ever” donor stewardship ideas, extra special and meaningful ways that we have thanked a donor or been thanked as a donor.
Thanks for reading, and thanks for all your hard work!
I've been thinking a lot lately about what leadership means, and why it matters.
We’re a couple of weeks into a new presidency. Each day seems to bring a wave of executive orders, nominations, hearings, and pronouncements that hearten some, horrify others, and bewilder many. There’s also a level of civic engagement and activism that we haven’t seen in decades. This, too, heartens some, horrifies others, and bewilders many. In dozens of conversations with nonprofit leaders in recent weeks, it's clear that along with a haze of uncertainty and angst, there's a growing list of important issues that are demanding people's attention right now. And who knows what will be happening on the day that you read this.
During the election, I was excited to get involved and I looked for ways to connect. But it wasn’t easy. Unfortunately, my party’s local website didn’t have a lot of information about how to get involved. For example, it lacked a list of upcoming events or an option to sign up for a newsletter. And as a busy person I never got around to reaching out to them to ask.
Until one day when two canvassers arrived on my doorstep. When they introduced themselves to me as belonging to my political party, I replied, “My people! Hello!” (Really, I said that. I’m that lame.) We had a brief conversation about how stressful the election cycle had been so far. I then explained that I was still relatively new to the area and was looking for ways to learn more about the local candidates, their platforms and other people involved with the local chapter. I mentioned how I had been on their website, but that the information I was looking for was hard to find. Here’s the conversation that happened next:
This article is about the poor cousin in the executive transition family: onboarding. Often given short shrift, onboarding comes after hours and hours of time (and often thousands and thousands of dollars) have been spent preparing for, searching for, and hiring a new executive director. While it may be understandable that what follows is often a collective sigh of relief while handing over the keys and heading for the hills, I’m here to tell you, board members, this is a time to stay engaged and committed to making that first year successful. And you’re not off the hook either, executive directors – your role is pivotal too. Along with a rationale for a collaborative and highly engaged partnership between the board and executive during the first year of a new ED’s life, you’ll also find here some practical suggestions that don’t require an advanced degree in nonprofit management, and specific tips from recently onboarded executive directors on what they learned from their experience.
Internal Candidate: they are two words that can strike fear in the heart of any nonprofit hiring committee. It’s easy to understand why: small staff teams can feel like a family, and the fear of having to turn down a colleague or even just upset the team dynamic if one person gets promoted over the others can be very real. Plus, will that person quit if you don’t offer them the job? Whether you are an ED who needs to hire a senior staff person or a board committee trying to hire an ED, knowing how to manage an internal candidate without the benefit of a separate HR department can be tricky. What follows are the most important lessons and tips I have learned from all the searches I have been a part of for creating a hiring process that feels fair and balanced to internal candidates, and gets the right person into the job.
“Best Ever” is the debut of a new feature at Northwest Nonprofit Notes, an article with one favorite idea from each of us on the same topic. In honor of Valentine’s Day, this month we asked our contributors to share one of their “Best Ever” donor stewardship ideas, extra special and meaningful ways that they had thanked a donor or been thanked as a donor. We hope this collection of memorable ways to appreciate donors and board members – yours for the taking! – will inspire all of us to find creative ways to share the love with our donors, this month and all year round.