Announcing CausePlanet’s Choice Award winners: Our top books for nonprofit leaders

cp_bookchoice_2016_greenIt’s my favorite time of year for many reasons. One of which is that my team at CausePlanet enjoys reflecting on the books we reviewed in 2016 for nonprofit leaders. Here are some of our favorites among them.

It goes without saying that this is an incredibly tough process because we don’t review a book to begin with unless we feel it has value for our readers. The titles below receive our CausePlanet Choice Award designation because each stood out on many counts, including factors such as originality, insight, inspiration and applicability.

We would like to congratulate the following authors on providing our sector with guidance and wisdom in these wonderful book titles:

How to Turn Your Words into Money: The Master Fundraiser’s Guide to Persuasive Writing by Jeff Brooks. turnyourwordsintomoneyfb

Jeff BrooksHow to Turn Your Words into Money is a nonprofit writer’s new ally with the latest guidelines for creating the most effective messages to persuade your reader. Brooks explains what fundraising writing is not and what it should be. He does so in a way that tells you exactly what to avoid and what to try in your next attempt to sway your audience. A fair amount is appropriately dedicated to the many ways you can create a compelling story even when you’re stumped. How to Turn concludes with what every fundraising writer needs: universal assumptions we know about donors and some helpful advice to keep you inspired. 

Performing Under Pressure: The Science of Doing Your Best When It Matters Most by Hendrie “Hank” Weisinger and J.P. Pawliw-Fry.performingunderpressurecover

Pressure is the enemy of success, according to vast research conducted by Performing Under Pressure authors Weisinger and Pawliw-Fry. Since it’s impossible to live life free of pressure, the authors present strategies to manage it immediately and in the future. Divided into three parts, this book helps you understand all aspects of pressure-inducing situations, provides 22 powerful solutions for handling pressure scenarios, and explains how to build your own “armor” to protect yourself over your lifetime from the ill-effects of pressure. 

Retention Fundraising: The Art and Science of Keeping Donors for Life by Roger Craver.retention-fundraising-cover

If you want to change the world, author Roger Craver argues that you must tackle one of the greatest fundraising challenges: retention. In other words, don’t raise a dollar unless you have a plan for keeping that dollar. Unfortunately, low retention has become increasingly accepted as a given in nonprofit operations. Craver asserts this doesn’t have to be the case. Thanks to a study of more than 250 organizations, Craver and his collaborators have introduced a framework for boosting retention and the lifetime value of donors. This framework is the foundation to improve each of the retention issues he presents, from redefining loyalty to understanding authentic engagement.

Mobile for Good: A How-To Fundraising Guide for Nonprofits by Heather Mansfield.mobile-for-good-cover

Any doubts you may have that social networks aren’t powerful or don’t need to be a priority in your communication and fundraising efforts can now be put to rest, according to Mobile for Good author Heather Mansfield. A comprehensive and thoroughly researched resource for nonprofits, Mobile for Good helps you master mobile content distribution on social networks so you are more likely to experience fundraising success. She provides recommended software, helpful checklists and nonprofits you should model. Advanced users will find a section dedicated to nonprofit staffers who are ready to tackle more challenging strategies. 

The Good Ones: Ten Crucial Qualities of High Character Employees by Bruce209-by-248-the-good-ones-cover Weinstein.

Questionable character is costly. Employees who lack character cost businesses and nonprofits billions of dollars each year. Unfortunately, employers focus too much on what candidates need to know or do and rarely think about what makes an employee great: character. The Good Ones: Ten Crucial Qualities of High-Character Employees presents ten qualities that clarify what it means to be a high-character employee. Stories from employers and employees illustrate how these traits are critical to the long-term success of your nonprofit and to the employees who exhibit them. This book contains advice for the employer, the interviewee and employee in search of a character fit.

The Generosity Network: New Transformational Tools for Successful Fundraising by Jennifer McCrea, Jeffrey C. Walker and Karl Weber.generosity_network_cover_large

The Generosity Network was written for those of you who work for one of the 1.8 million organizations that make up America’s nonprofit sector and the 10 million nonprofits worldwide. Whether a nonprofit leader, volunteer, board member or front-line employee, each person plays a critical role in attracting support for its organization. This book describes an approach that makes working with partners easier, more effective and, dare we say, more fun. The basis of the coauthors’ approach is rooted in relatedness and connectedness with partners. These partnerships are built upon three elements: know yourself, know others and know how to ask.

I encourage you to give yourself the gift of knowledge and download one of our book summaries and purchase the book. Make 2017 count by committing to your professional development. Knowledge has a shelf life and it must be renewed!

Share/Bookmark

Leave a reply



We asked “The Ethics Guy” about his favorite interview question

ethics2Bruce Weinstein presents ten qualities that clarify what it means to be a high-character employee in his latest book, The Good Ones: Ten Crucial Qualities of High-Character Employees.

Stories from employers and employees illustrate how these traits are critical to the long-term success of your nonprofit and to the employees who exhibit them. This book contains advice for the employer, the interviewee and employee in search of a character fit.

We asked author Weinstein about his favorite interview question. 

CausePlanet: What is your favorite job interview question that reveals character and why?

BW: “Have you ever cheated, and if so, what did you learn from it?”

Several of the leaders I spoke with in doing research for The Good Ones told me, “You’d be surprised how often people will just come out and tell you about the dishonest things they’ve done.” I agree.

From time to time I interview high school students who are applying to the college I attended, Swarthmore. A few years ago, I mentioned to Rob, the young man I was interviewing, that I’d written a book called Is It Still Cheating If I Don’t Get Caught? I told him how dismayed I was by the stories of cheating in high schools and colleges and asked him point-blank if he had ever misrepresented himself.

“Yes,” he said. “My friends and I have done it more than once. School is so competitive now, you have to cheat to get good grades.”

Rob got a “Do not admit” recommendation from me on the college evaluation form.dishonesty

There are two downsides to asking a job candidate a direct question about dishonesty. First, it immediately strikes fear in the candidate’s heart, even if the candidate is an honest person. I don’t like the idea of making people squirm.

The second downside is that the question seems to present a no-win situation. The candidate may reason that if she admits to having cheated, she won’t get the job, but if she lies, she’ll get caught in a fib.

But the savvy interviewer will not reject candidates simply because they have admitted to cheating. What bothered me about Rob wasn’t so much his academic dishonesty but the fact that he exhibited no remorse for having cheated and even attempted to justify it.

The honest person has a strong emotional commitment to the truth, and leaders who evaluate for character as well as competence serve their employers—and themselves–well.

I’m happy to help readers of CausePlanet any way I can.  If you have any questions about this material, please call me any time at 646.649.4501 (U.S.).

See also:

The Good Ones: Ten Crucial Qualities of High Character Employees

Match: A Systematic, Sane Process for Hiring the Right Person Every Time

Mission-Based Management: Leading Your Not-for-Profit in the 21st Century, 3rd Ed.

Image credit: carnegiecouncil.org, skiprichard.com

Share/Bookmark

Leave a reply



Are you hiring for the most important quality?

209-by-248-the-good-ones-coverQuestionable character is costly. Employees who lack character cost businesses and nonprofits billions of dollars each year. Unfortunately, employers focus too much on what candidates need to know or do and rarely think about what makes an employee great: character.

The Good Ones: Ten Crucial Qualities of High-Character Employees presents ten qualities that clarify what it means to be a high-character employee. Stories from employers and employees illustrate how these traits are critical to the long-term success of your nonprofit and to the employees who exhibit them. This book contains advice for the employer, the interviewee and employee in search of a character fit.

The phrase, “the good ones,” relates to two contexts. First, author Bruce Weinstein uses it to refer to employees of high character. Second, he applies it to the ten qualities associated with high-character employees:

1) honesty

2) accountability

3) caretop-10-list

4) courage

5) fairness

6) gratitude

7) humility

8) loyalty

9) patience and

10) presence.

Honesty is listed first because Weinstein asserts it’s the most important one by far. If someone is fundamentally dishonest, it’s hard to imagine any other quality outweighing that flaw.

When Weinstein’s publisher asked if he had favorite stories among those he collected from interviews and sources, he said these stood out in his mind:

Brenda Harry, an employee at the Goodwill store in Pearisburg, Virginia, who found $3,100 in cash in a coat she was processing. She turned in the money, even though no one would have ever known if she had decided to keep it for herself.

Janice Piacente, a senior compliance officer who routinely gives her team the credit for implementing groundbreaking ideas that she generates.

The 20,000 employees at Market Basket, a New England grocery store chain, who left their jobs after the company’s CEO, Arthur T. Demoulas, was fired. Demoulas had fought tirelessly for his workers, and they repaid his loyalty with such a widespread protest that it drew national media attention and resulted in his reinstatement.

Weinstein appreciates the men and women of high character in these stories who have chosen to take the high road when it would have been much easier to do otherwise. This book is a chapter-by-chapter exploration of the ten qualities evident in these favorite case stories and a guide for how to attract these kind of high-character employees.

See also:

The Good Ones: Ten Crucial Qualities of High Character Employees

Match: A Systematic, Sane Process for Hiring the Right Person Every Time

Mission-Based Management: Leading Your Not-for-Profit in the 21st Century, 3rd Ed.

Image credit: New World Library

Share/Bookmark

Leave a reply



Nonprofits: Explore the heart of Latino leadership

latinoleadershipIf you’re like me, you’re involved with one, two or more boards that would love to share the table with a thriving minority in the U.S. In fact, minority won’t be an accurate description by the year 2060. Join me in getting acquainted with the first book that squarely focuses on describing the principles and practices of how Latinos lead in our communities. Bestselling author, Juana Bordas, has written The Power of Latino Leadership: Culture, Inclusion and Contribution. Bordas has also written Salsa, Soul and Spirit.

In Latino Leadership, author Juana Bordas takes us on a path to the very heart of Latino leadership. She explores 10 principles that illustrate how inclusive, people-oriented, socially responsible and life-affirming Latinos are in their grass roots efforts. This book will inform every one of us about the nuances of Latinos in the social sector.

You’ll find her answers to our interviews questions in our recent podcast very informative below. Thank you, Juana!

6) How can nonprofits help with the goal in this quotation: “So how do leaders motivate people to do the hard work of community building and commit to the long-term struggle of creating a more equitable society?”

Image credit: Berrett-Koehler Publishers

 

Share/Bookmark

Leave a reply



Podcast: Three top pressure reducers that help you when it matters most

myndset-com“You can’t just show up to a high-pressure situation and expect to perform well. You need to be tenacious—to put the work in. People who find it difficult to perform often discount the need for preparation and hard work. It’s easier to believe in the myth of the clutch player, the leader-hero, or the prodigy,” assert Weisinger and Pawliw-Fry, coauthors of Performing Under Pressure: The Science of Doing Your Best When It Matters Most.

“Nobody performs better under pressure. Regardless of the task, pressure ruthlessly diminishes our judgment, decision making, attention, dexterity and performance in every professional and personal arena.”

Leaders in the nonprofit sector are no strangers to feeling the pressure of furthering a mission with lean resources and limited staff. After learning more about the authors’ conclusive research, you can’t help but realize that pressure management should be a baseline competency for every leader.

Since it’s impossible to live life free of pressure, the authors present strategies to manage it immediately and in the future in their latest book.

We recently interviewed coauthor Hendrie “Hank” Weisinger about the book and found ourselves fascinated by tools he shared for managing pressure. We hope you enjoy his answers to the following questions:

Would you give a brief premise of your book?

What are three top pressure reducers that nonprofits can use to perform more successfully?

Would you explain the “COTE of Armor” and how it reduces pressure over the long-term?

How can nonprofit leaders reduce the stress for their employees, who are often overworked and underpaid?

Learn more about Hendrie Weisinger’s online courses if you’d like to do a better job of managing pressure in your life: http://pressure.hendrieweisingerphd.com

See a book summary of this title and others:

Performing Under Pressure: The Science of Doing Your Best When It Matters Most

Driven to Distraction at Work: How to Focus and Be More Productive

Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work

Image credits: myndset.com

 

 

 

 

 

Share/Bookmark

Leave a reply



Performing under pressure: Befriend the moment

PerformingUnderPressureCover“Nobody performs better under pressure. Regardless of the task, pressure ruthlessly diminishes our judgment, decision making, attention, dexterity and performance in every professional and personal arena,” assert Performing Under Pressure coauthors Weisinger and Pawliw-Fry.

Leaders in the nonprofit sector are no strangers to feeling the pressure of furthering a mission with lean resources and limited staff. After learning more about the authors’ conclusive research, you can’t help but realize that pressure management should be a baseline competency for every leader.

Weisinger and Pawliw-Fry explain we live in a high-pressure time, where every day we feel we are on the line. More than ever, today’s workers feel the pressure to produce, perform and get results.

Why do we feel the pressure?

Many factors have increased the perceived pressure on our lives: recent economic downturn; higher competition for jobs; advent of the global economy; lack of job stability; and growing competition to get into top colleges, universities and graduate programs.

Pressure is the enemy of success

The authors explain the bottom line is simply that pressure is the enemy of success. Since it is impossible to live a life without pressure, the key is to understand your reactions to it and how those reactions put you at risk. Then you must engage in what the authors call pressure management.

In our Page to Practice™ book summary of Performing Under Pressure, we asked the authors what they most wanted readers to know about pressure:

CausePlanet: What is the most important thing you want people to know about handling pressure in the workplace?theatlantic-com

Weisinger: If you want to perform your best in a pressure moment, it is essential to “befriend the moment.” That means perceiving the pressure moment, whether it is giving a presentation, a crucial conversation, an interview or sports contest, as an “opportunity” or “fun” rather than a threatening situation.

Befriending the moment allows you to approach the situation with confidence and optimism, two natural pressure reducers, while viewing the pressure moment as threatening causes you to approach the situation with trepidation and anxiety.

The most important point for individuals to know for reducing daily feelings of pressure is to rid themselves of a ranking mindset —one that causes one to compare himself with others, which fosters competition. Competition is a natural pressure inducer so when you are always competing with others and trying to be the best, you experience continual pressure because you are chasing an impossible goal.

Plus, you can’t control the actions of others. There is always going to be someone that is better, richer and smarter. In contrast, developing a mindset of “excellence” helps you focus on what you can control –doing your best. When you focus on doing your best rather than trying to “beat” the others, you experience less daily feelings of pressure.lucille ball

Pawliw-Fry: Lose the story you tell yourself that in order to be successful you need to be perfect. You won’t be perfect and that is OK. The people who perform under pressure don’t go in expecting to be better than they have ever been before or perfect. They go in expecting the unexpected, that things might not go well at times and what they need to do is not react to their imperfection.

Michael Jordan performed worse under pressure, not better, but when he missed a big shot or made a mistake, he limited the duration the mistake stayed on his outlook. He wanted the ball back faster than others. That was the secret of his success.

Why you should buy this book

Performing Under Pressure is a guidebook with strategies—22 to be exact—that you can quickly apply in your workplace and in life. This book is grounded in Weisinger’s and Pawliw-Fry’s years of field experience and a multiyear study of more than 12,000 people who experience pressure.

For those of you who need immediate help, you can review part two where the authors share nearly two dozen how-to’s on pressure management. For others who want to better understand why they experience pressure to begin with, part one is extremely enlightening. Part three is a fitting conclusion with a delivery of techniques for managing pressure over the long-term.

See a book summary of this title and others:

Performing Under Pressure: The Science of Doing Your Best When It Matters Most

Driven to Distraction at Work: How to Focus and Be More Productive

Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work

Image credits: Crown Business (2015), theatlantic.com, The Lucy Show

Share/Bookmark

Leave a reply



CausePlanet’s Choice Awards–Our Top Nonprofit Books for 2015

This is my favorite time of year for many reasons. One of them is our chance to look back at a great year of book choices for our readers.

It’s also the hardest time of the year because we choose books that stand out among the rest. Now, this may seem like an easy task but it isn’t. Choosing from titles that are already among our favorites is like choosing a favorite child. Thankfully, the challenging task is tempered by the fact that we know you love these awards. Thank you for the wonderful feedback when we launched this designation last year.

All our Choice Award titles are chosen based on the following criteria: original insights, inspirational content, well-organized and easy-to-follow format, voice, applicability, and strong evidence of case stories and/or exhibits.

Our Choice Awards for 2015 go to the following authors:

The Sustainability Mindset by Steve Zimmerman and Jeanne Bell
This book not only effectively argues the importance of having financial and programming discussions within the same conversation, but the authors also provide a proven framework designed to guide the process toward sound decision-making. Thanks to matrix mapping, your leaders can leave the guesswork out of strategic planning.

The Last Virtual Volunteering Guidebook by Jayne Cravens and Susan Ellis
Cravens and Ellis do a wonderful job of addressing how volunteering has changed so dramatically over the years that calling out the notion of virtual volunteering is no longer necessary because this form of giving has meshed with traditional volunteering. This thorough guidebook is the resource for anyone managing volunteers.

Global Fundraising: How the World Is Changing the Rules of Philanthropy edited by Penelope Cagney and Bernard Ross
Cagney and Ross create a rare and fascinating look at what types of fundraising are working all over the world. In a telescoping society that’s facilitated by technology, nonprofits’ reach is farther than ever before. This book helps you gather context for your fundraising efforts and consider what’s influencing your donors outside of traditional boundaries and borders.
On behalf of the CausePlanet team, we would like to thank these authors and the company of authors they share who’ve contributed so much to the sector in which we work. We hope our Page to Practice™ book summaries have inspired you to engage in deeper reading and make better book choices. Don’t forget—December is Read a New Book Month. Choose one of these titles or any of the great recommendations in our book summary library and work smarter in 2016.

See also:

The Sustainability Mindset: Using the Matrix Map to Make Strategic Decisions

The Last Virtual Volunteering Guidebook: Fully Integrating Online Service into Volunteer Involvement

Global Fundraising: How the World Is Changing the Rules of Philanthropy

Share/Bookmark

Leave a reply



How to make culture your nonprofit advantage

Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch is about the fragile balance between two forces on your organization—rational and emotional. Both are necessary to create a culture at every level of your organization.

Culture Eats authors Coffman and Sorensen argue that our strategies and tactics can either take a bite out of our culture or ignite the passion within it. The authors claim that as leaders, managers and employees, we must actively own the cultures to which we belong to draw out the best climate that is conducive to our business imperatives.

The reality about culture

Every organization has a culture, whether you cultivate it or not. The question is will you nurture your culture so it becomes your competitive advantage or choose to ignore it and hope for the best? Many nonprofits hope their noble missions will have a halo effect on their cultures.

The reality is nonprofits may need culture management more than most due to workplace challenges such as fewer resources for programming budgets, perks and pay. Coffman and Sorensen argue that culture is the X Factor when it comes to pushing your competitive advantage, delivering on your brand and ensuring strategies are fulfilled. The advantage nonprofits do have is plenty of purpose, which the authors explain is a critical ingredient for building a strong culture.

Culture questions asked and answered

We asked Curt Coffman and Kathie Sorensen about their unique idea of a Cultural P&L and about how leaders can have an impact on MicroCulture:

CausePlanet: Curt and Kathie, thank you for writing this book that focuses on culture as a means to success and competitive advantage. How did you come up with the idea of Cultural P&L (Profit and Loss)? What exactly does it involve?

Coffman and Sorensen: Every effective business leader knows the value of the P&L. Without it, you would be “guessing” about the outcomes that are critical to your business. The idea of a Cultural P&L is to provide the same kind of attentiveness for what has historically been hard to assess–the culture itself. Rather than seeing culture or even employee engagement as a once-a-year “outcome,” we see culture as evolving throughout the year and requiring a relentless interest to manage it effectively.

The three levels of culture, MacroCulture, MicroCulture and Bridge, are all a part of the P&L and help us understand the power of attraction within the culture and the degree of productive energy and connections around our line-of-sight. While the P&L will take the shape of the organization, the vigilance practiced helps ensure that the culture aligns with the brand and creates competitive advantage.

CausePlanet: You discuss at great length how the individual, not the leadership, in the MicroCulture is responsible for the culture. How can leaders then steer the culture in the right direction and motivate individuals to create a positive culture?

Coffman and Sorensen: Leaders can’t mandate culture, but they can encourage it through their active interest in their people’s perspectives, talents, ideas and needs. What leaders pay attention to creates focus in the larger organization. Asking about collaboration, partnership and new ideas means that leaders can bring about more of those strengths.

Great leaders ask about the elements of culture they want to see more of. The leader controls three things in making culture a competitive advantage: 1) brand, 2) future and 3) strategy. But, leaders can take a scalpel to culture if their role isn’t well defined.

MicroCulture is the most local team that shares similar goals and focus. The onus of culture is really activated or squashed at this level. The role of the micro level is to activate and sustain productive energy in one another. This is where execution, quality and true productivity lie.

If you’re tired of looking at financials, give the Cultural P&L a try. Coffman and Sorensen assure you that a consistent focus on culture will soon become your best insurance for a solid future.

See also:

Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch: The Secret of Extraordinary Results Igniting the Passion Within

Fired Up or Burned Out: How to Reignite Your Team’s Passion, Creativity and Productivity

Liquid Leadership: From Woodstock to Wikipedia: Multigenerational Management Ideas That Are Changing the Way We Run Things

Image credits: torbenrick.eu

Share/Bookmark

Leave a reply



Online volunteers: Nonprofit predictions and challenges

“The critical concept here is that no activity is inherently a volunteer or an employee role; it all depends on finding the most qualified person to do the task. … And if a task can be done by a volunteer, there is an excellent chance that at least some of it might be accomplished through online service,” say Jayne Cravens and Susan Ellis.

Cravens and Ellis have recently published The Last Virtual Volunteering Guidebook, which is written for nonprofit organizations and NGOs that engage virtual volunteers to meet a mission.

Schools, courts, parks and other government programs as well as grassroots and membership associations will find this book exceptionally useful. Even for-profit corporations supporting any of the above organizations will find this Guidebook helpful in designing and managing a virtual volunteering program.

Cravens and Ellis have focused their careers on volunteering, the advent of virtual service and the ultimate blending of the two strategies. The Guidebook covers the full spectrum of volunteering online: preparation, recruitment, assignment design, screening and selection, orientation and training, advanced techniques, evaluation and accessibility.

Predictions and challenges

In our Page to Practice™ book summary, we asked Cravens and Ellis about their predictions for online volunteering and the most common challenge among nonprofits that attempt to create these virtual programs.

CausePlanet: You have a great section in the back of the book that lists your predictions for online volunteering. Which among them do you feel most passionately?

Cravens and Ellis: Jayne is most excited about the prediction that there is going to be a greater diversity of volunteers because of the demand for virtual volunteering opportunities from many different types of organizations and because of the appeal to such a wide group of people for these types of tasks. “I don’t think it will happen overnight, but it will happen–it’s inevitable.” Susan loves the international nature of the Web and how volunteers who are working on a cause can find and interact with anyone else on the planet sharing that cause. So many issues are global—concern for the environment, the rights of women, ending diseases—and have no geographic borders. And volunteers are much more free to contact and collaborate with anyone, regardless of politics or funding restraints. So virtual volunteering has inherent power to change the world! We both also feel strongly the principles of volunteer management will remain valid and important, no matter whether applied onsite or online.

CausePlanet: What is the most common challenge among nonprofits that attempt to create a online volunteering program?

Cravens and Ellis: Fear is the most common challenge: fear that this will create more work, fear that this will somehow put people and the organization in danger, and fear of failure. So often, when either of us write or talk about virtual volunteering, we’re addressing people’s fear of it. We’ve also found only organizations already capable of involving volunteers successfully in the real world are likely to be comfortable working with them online. So, as we’ve already mentioned, no organization should “create a virtual volunteering program”; it should examine its strategies for including any type of volunteer in its work and then recruit, deploy, and support volunteers whether onsite, in the field, or online.

If you share this fear or other anxieties about tapping virtual volunteers, consider some of the following ways to prepare from Cravens and Ellis:

–       Make sure volunteering opportunities are visible on your website.

–       Overcome resistance by giving the benefits listed above and emphasizing how it will increase everyone’s skill sets.

–       Look at the costs, which may include updating computers, software, online meeting tools, space for online forums and staff time.

–       Address tech-related issues such as IT assistance and the ability to update online forums, volunteer applications, etc.

–       Update policies and procedures, such as electronic signatures on documents, ways in which volunteers should represent the organization online (e.g., identifying their affiliation when they send an email), confidentiality protections, reporting procedures, reasons to terminate online volunteers, correspondence archives, protocol for sharing photos and names, etc.

–       Combine your recordkeeping system with the one you already have for tracking onsite volunteers, although it may be in a different format.

–       Discuss the use of asynchronous tools (people do not have to be online at the same time to communicate), such as e-mail, blogs, podcast recordings, Facebook, etc.; synchronous tools (people need to be online at the same time), such as chat rooms, instant messaging, live blogging, live webinars, etc.; online communities or forums for volunteers to share information that is found nowhere else and connect all volunteers to the organization; and cyber deputies, who are volunteers that help with your online communications in roles ranging from facilitating online forums to guiding volunteers through the application process to posting photos on the website.

–       Create a flowchart that shows all steps from the definition of a task to recruitment of the volunteer to the completion of the project so all people involved are clear how the communication works. For example, if a candidate calls to express interest, where does this information go? If a candidate emails to express interest, where does this email go? Who tracks all this information? When does the volunteer resources manager (VRM) become involved?

Then and now

At the time Benjamin Franklin invented the first volunteer firehouse in 1736, no one could predict more than 65 million Americans would volunteer today. Even more unlikely would be a prediction surrounding how technological advances would revolutionize how we can support our communities.

Volunteer service is no longer limited by work schedules, hours of operation or logistics. In this particular case, the accessibility of volunteers online also means additional systems must be implemented by the nonprofit to protect the volunteer and the organization. Remote volunteers necessitate the development of alternative recruitment and screening processes, work agreements and evaluation measures, online orientation training tools, virtual mentoring and coaching, and online recognition programs.

 

Learn more about other Page to Practice™ nonprofit book summaries related to this title:

Leveraging Good Will: Strengthening Nonprofits By Leveraging Businesses

Social Change Anytime Everywhere: How to Implement Online Multichannel Strategies to Spark Advocacy, Raise Money and Engage Your Community

Citizen Marketers: When People Are the Message

Image credits: balihoo.com, redorbit.com, womenoncall.org, biography.com

Share/Bookmark

Leave a reply



Is your nonprofit team fired up or burned out? A case for connection

Connected organizations are more productive, more innovative and more profitable; conversely, a lack of connection will gradually burn employees out. Author Michael Lee Stallard makes the case for increasing connection at work and shows you how to build a “connection culture”—a culture that increases connection among people—by increasing the elements of a connected culture: vision, value and voice. Paying attention to these so-called “soft” aspects of the work environment will help increase employee engagement and, in the end, will make your organization more successful.

The case for connection

Research by the Gallup Organization shows that fewer than three in ten Americans are engaged in their jobs. Gallup also estimates the annual cost to the American economy from the approximately 22 million American workers who are extremely negative or “actively disengaged” to be $250 to $300 billion every year. Unless people in an organization feel a strong sense of connection to their work and colleagues, they will never reach their potential as individuals, and the organization will never reach its potential.

Conversely, employees in an organization with a high degree of connection are more engaged, more productive in their jobs, and less likely to leave the organization for a competitor. One trend in particular makes connection more important than ever: the increasing globalization of labor. As globalization makes it easier for companies to move work and jobs around the world, organizations that want to retain jobs in their home countries will need to boost the productivity of their people or lose business to competitors who reduce their costs by offshoring.

The connection formula

A “connection culture” is a culture that embraces the beliefs and behaviors that enhance connection among people and meet their basic human psychological needs for respect, recognition, belonging, autonomy, personal growth and meaning. There are three elements of a connection culture that meet these basic needs: vision, value and voice. Leaders who intentionally foster these three elements will reap the benefits of a connection culture.

Vision exists in an organization when everyone is\motivated by the organization’s mission;

united by its values; and

proud of its reputation.

Value exists in an organization when everyone

understands the basic psychological needs of people;

appreciates their positive, unique contributions; and

helps them achieve their potential.

Voice exists when everyone

seeks the ideas of others;

shares ideas and opinions honestly; and

safeguards relational connections.

A good way to remember these elements is to remember this formula: Vision + Value + Voice = Connection.

When all three elements are in place, it’s a win-win for individuals and organizations.

The evolution of organizations

Most organizations today focus on task excellence—or the quantitative and analytical aspects of business. However, according to Stallard, organizations that focus exclusively on task excellence will fail to meet the basic human psychological needs that maximize employees’ contributions to the organization.

Stars, core employees and strugglers

Employees fall into three categories: stars, core employees and strugglers. Stars are the superior performers; they are either part of senior management or are on the management track. Core employees are valuable contributors but not stars. And strugglers perform poorly, either for temporary reasons or because they are not well suited to their position. Stars are the “favorites” of management and are treated as such—they may be paid more, listened to or included in social situations. This “caste” system within organizations makes most employees feel like second-class citizens and affects an organization’s economic, political and social aspects.

Core employees, however, are just as critical—and often more so—to an organization’s success as its stars. Core employees make up the majority of an organization’s employees and are often just as intelligent, talented and knowledgeable as stars. They differ from stars in three important ways:

They are less likely to call attention to themselves;

They are less likely to leave their current employer for a different organization or position; and

They are quietly dedicated to their work and to their colleagues.

Core employees are key

Organizations are at risk of losing their core employees if they do not foster a sense of connection in the workplace. The reason is simple: Core employees feel that their ideas and opinions aren’t heard and don’t matter, and that they are not respected or recognized for their contributions. Over time they become frustrated and feel underappreciated. This leads them to becoming disconnected and disengaged which, in turn, causes burn out. Leaders need to treat everyone with dignity and respect, and give core employees opportunities to shine as well as the stars. These so-called “soft” issues are essential to any organization that aspires to be the best.

Nonprofit implications

Much has been written about nonprofit “burnout” and the impending “leadership crisis” as Baby Boomers prepare for retirement. Disengagement, an aging population and globalization are converging to become the perfect storm that will make today’s leaders and organizations vulnerable. However, leaders can gain a performance advantage by intentionally creating a work environment that increases engagement and connection within the organization. Organizations that do this will attract and retain committed employees and, as a result, achieve high impact in the long run.

See also:

Fired Up or Burned Out free ebook

The Leadership Challenge (4th Ed)

The Six Secrets of Change: What the Best Leaders Do to Help Their Organizations Survive and Thrive

Image credits: bloomberg.com, accidentalcreative.com, wallconvert.com

 

Share/Bookmark

Leave a reply



Welcome! Please provide your log-in information below.
Forget your password?

Enter your email or user name and your log-in information will be sent to the email on file.