Have a Very Merry Christmas!
It is now time for Christmas 2017. Hopefully, for nonprofit executives, it is finally a time to rest for a few days. Many will be with their families at home, and others will travel. Many of us will also spend some quiet moments reflecting on the past year. For now, I hope everyone can truly celebrate the meaning of Christmas and enjoy the time off.
When I was young in West Virginia, the “Christmas Eve Eve,” Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were filled with rituals and mandatory appearances. My family loved it, but I slept well the day after Christmas when the excitement was over.
When I thought about this blog post, the words to Merry Christmas immediately came to mind.
As I think of the letters that spell “Merry Christmas,” I would like to share my holiday thoughts with you.
- M. The letter “M” is for matters. Our work to constantly generate time, talent and treasure matters. When you have more than 1.6 million 501(c)(3) organizations directing their efforts to improve mankind, millions of people’s lives are affected in a positive way. Keep working hard and make your organization matter in 2018.
- E. The letter “E” is for excellence. Strive to exceed expectations when dealing with others. Prepare well, and set an example for others to follow. Make sure the quantity and quality of work is in balance.
- R. The letter “R” is for representative. Train your volunteers, staff and administration to understand your organization and represent it in ways that excite, influence and encourage others to engage.
- R. The letter “R” is for is for rehearse. Rehearse your presentations with others. Seek their honest feedback, and practice presentations whenever possible. You will improve your confidence over time.
- Y. The letter “Y” is for yield. We are in a numbers and process business. Set an annual target, and seek to exceed targets over time. Analyze performance and strive to improve areas of weakness.
- C. The letter “C” is for community. Seek to understand the relevance of your organization in the community by key thought and influential leaders. Learn how your organization can be more relevant in the community it serves.
- H. The letter “H” is for health. Maintain your health throughout your nonprofit career. You deal with physical and mental demands. Your best performance will depend on your health, especially as you age.
- R. The letter “R” is for relationships. Our work is all about relationships. You constantly meet new volunteers, friends, prospects, donors and others. The tighter the relationship the more success occurs.
- I. The letter “I” is for instinct. As your career unfolds, use your gut and instinct to your advantage. Many situations are not by the book. Life is complex, and you need to feel situations that change constantly.
- S. The letter “S” is for strategy. You need to follow a strategic and operational plan to determine where you are and where you are going. Seek to constantly modify the plan based upon changing resources and environmental factors.
- T. The letter “T” is for timing. When dealing with a prospect, know when to cultivate, solicit, steward and begin the process over again. This process never stops and evolves over time to hopefully generate greater results. Know when the best time is to ask, for how much and for what purpose.
- M. The letter “M” is for message. Make sure in any appeal or communication with someone, you have a message or story in mind that is emotional, compelling, impactful, relevant and truthful.
- A. The letter “A” is for attitude. Always have a positive attitude. You are being watched every minute of every day. People constantly attempt to read your mind and thoughts, and interpret words and actions. As a leader, keep your negative outbursts to a minimum and the positive vibes to a maximum.
- S. The letter “S” is for selfless. You are in a profession where others must come first. Experience the joy of giving and not receiving. As humans, it is not easy to give the spotlight to others, but learn to thrive in the shadows.
I wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Enjoy the holidays to the greatest degree possible. You have certainly earned that moment in time.
With our changing tax environment and nonprofit sector landscape, take a well-deserved break as 2017 ends. Trust me, the potential chaos of 2018 will be here sooner than later.
Duke has extensive experience as a nonprofit practitioner, author, educator and consultant. He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the last 10 years and has had the CFRE designation for the last 26 years. He has also been a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals for over 35 years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in education administration, master's degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also done post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
He is currently executive director of development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division plus Adjunct Professor for Olivet Nazarene University. Contact Duke at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-224-1029.