Sweet Life Hack: The Dedication of Nonprofit Professionals
I was on a train. It was late.
I was emailing various levels of staff people, for various nonprofits, for various reasons. Happily for me, I am old enough and mean enough that when I email during the day I get a pretty good response rate to my requests. That means I have a benchmark on responsiveness to me during the workday.
It was 8:45 p.m. on a Wednesday. I didn't expect any responses.
Even worse, the thing I was working on that night was specific to those in the chief executive officer (CXO) and vice president executive (VPX) level. The expectation might be that these CXO/VPX folks would never answer at 8:45 p.m. on a Wednesday. I mean, don't they "have people" for that who would do it the next day? But these folks, like most nonprofit employees, are working, day and night, to do better on all fronts. Almost every single one answered my email that evening in order to serve the organizations they worked for as best they could: ALS Association, Lupus Foundation, Project HOPE, Make-A-Wish, Susan G. Komen, etc. Up all night apparently, fixing global bad stuff.
What is up with these nonprofit people? They don't make killer bucks, they have few resources at work and they are working on missions that can look overwhelming. But they work like they are on fire.
These people have a secret.
We all could work in for-profit, and make bigger money and go buy things and experiences that make us happy. Or, we could just work at what we love and be happy.
That's a sweet life hack.
Katrina VanHuss is the CEO of Turnkey, a U.S.-based strategy and execution firm for nonprofit fundraising campaigns. Katrina has been instilling passion in volunteer fundraisers since 1989 when she founded the company. Turnkey’s clients include most of the top thirty U.S. peer-to-peer campaigns — Susan G. Komen, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the ALS Association, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, as well as some international organizations, like UNICEF.
Otis Fulton is a psychologist who joined Turnkey in 2013 as its consumer behavior expert. He works with clients to apply psychological principles to fundraising. He is a much-sought-after copywriter for nonprofit messaging. He has written campaigns for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, The March of Dimes, the USO and dozens of other organizations.
Now as a married couple, Katrina and Otis almost never stop talking about fundraising, volunteerism, and human decision-making – much to the chagrin of most dinner companions.
Katrina and Otis present regularly at clients’ national conferences, as well as at BBCon, NonProfit Pro P2P, Peer to Peer Forum, and others. They write a weekly column for NonProfit PRO and are the co-authors of the 2017 book, "Dollar Dash: The Behavioral Economics of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising." They live in Richmond, Virginia, USA.