My 10 Christmas Gifts for Nonprofit Professionals
As we approach Christmas, I am hitting the most physically and mentally demanding part of my work year. I always see December 24 representing the finish line for a well-received brief vacation before the New Year begins.
I was asked recently what I wanted for Christmas this year. I immediately thought of the nonprofit profession, the role of the nonprofit professional and what gifts could make my colleagues’ jobs easier going forward.
My gift to you this year is some ideas and insight. I hope at least one idea from the list helps you. My hopes for 10 Christmas gifts for nonprofit professionals (that includes you!) this year are as follows:
- CEO. The gift of a CEO who is experienced in a positive way in working with you. This person would have empathy and encourage 100% cooperation. They would understand development priorities and willingly open doors to any prospect for any amount at any time. The CEO would be the nonprofit professional’s biggest supporter and provide the resources necessary for success. A percentage of the CEO’s calendar would be devoted to the development process and all development staff should have approved access to the CEO when appropriate.
- Board of directors. The gift is to receive access to your board of directors. Each board member should donate time, talent and treasure to the development effort. They should all contribute at various levels to the organization and willingly open doors for staff to engage with potential corporations, foundations, organizations, associations and individuals. They should encourage leadership for various internal initiatives and always be supportive. They should also step down willingly if they cannot fulfill their job expectations.
- Executive team. The organizational executive team gift should continually provide an open-door policy to you and other resource development professionals. They should share ideas, concerns and data with the development team. On an annual basis, the executive team should meet with you and other resource professional representatives and have a friendly, candid SWOT analysis session. The executive team should constantly interact with your development staff to exchange ideas and strategy. A spirit of teamwork and cooperation should exist internally within your organization. They should appreciate and understand your pressures and concerns.
- Volunteers. A gift to you from volunteers who are being recruited, trained and recognized for their organizational involvement. These individuals must be made to feel incredibly special. They should be known well enough to determine their likes and dislikes. Volunteers should be given assignments that challenge them and make them feel a part of the organization. Analysis of a volunteer’s talents should be made to understand how best to use them. A survey should be sent to volunteers to ask for their input. Input from the survey must be studied, examined and implemented. They are special and a gift to the organization. Always treat them with special attention.
- Donors. The gift of your donors is especially important to the organization. This gift includes adding new donors, increased gift donors and fewer donors that quit giving to your organization this year. A gift needs to include a manual on how to continually care and feed donors to your organization. You need to have empathy and seek to build a personal relationship with each donor in some manner. Donors need to feel special and communication with them is critical to success. A gift of better understanding of donors is to place them high in your list of those of importance to you.
- Staff. A gift of knowledge of how you can work more effectively with your staff is especially important. You need to get to know each staff member on an individual basis and see what motivates them. You need to listen to their ideas and make them a critical part of your teams’ success. You need to push your ego aside and encourage honesty with them. Think of ways to recognize and support them. Ask them how you can better serve them. Encourage a critique and adjust along the way. Be transparent with them, and thank them for their organizational support. Listen to their needs and wants.
- Friends. You need a gift of organizational friends. These individuals can be great supporters and advisors. Share organizational knowledge with them, and seek their candid input. Ask them what they think about the organization and ways to make it better. Seek to determine from them what can be improved. Obtain their organizational story, and deal with them in an honest and passionate way. Always strive to build a rapport with them and tell them how important they are to the organization. Communicate with them on an ongoing basis.
- Mission. Seek the gift of mission this year. You know what the mission is, but how can you take the organizational mission to a higher level with the various constituencies you serve? Examine how the mission has been used in the past, present and possible future. With your knowledge of what is needed in the community and what funders require, ascertain a vision of the mission that links the two together. Understand that your mission is particularly important and the perception of your mission by others is just as important.
- Branding. With limited institutional dollars for advertising, seek the gift of understanding how to better utilize the brand of your organization. You need and want your organization to be known. You also want the organization to be known for certain positive activities. One must determine the best ways to expand your positive brand to maximize ways that brand can grow in markets determined by your analysis. Use the gift of research and best-of-class analysis to see what other similar organizations have done to expand their brand.
- Colleagues. A gift of connections is important for you. At times, all of us get caught up with our own world. Sometimes, that evolves over several years. You find yourself doing the same things over again each year. Take the time to contact peers, colleagues in the associations and those individuals you determine might be able to give you fresh ideas. This may include mentoring and educational opportunities. Others have come before you, know your job and how to help. Do not be afraid to reach out when the need arises. You can share private concerns with them.
All of you do great work and care about your profession. Thank you for your service to our country and society. I wish for you the happiest of holidays. Keep a positive attitude and lead by example.
Enjoy a post-Christmas gift of rest before 2021. Look at the bright side of things — we are not heading into the year 2020!
F. Duke Haddad, EdD, CFRE, is currently associate director of development, director of capital campaigns and director of corporate development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, Indiana. In addition, he is also president of Duke Haddad and Associates, LLC, and freelance instructor for Nonprofit Web Advisor.
He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the past 13 years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis on education administration, master’s degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor’s degree from West Virginia University in business administration, with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also done post graduate work at the University of Louisville.