Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continually. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
For those of us who have spent any amount of time navigating the nonprofit sector, it’s pretty clear that many of us suffer from a mentality of lack. Why, consider the word itself: nonprofit. Non. Almost as if something is fundamentally missing.
But it goes beyond that.
All I have to do is look to what I’ve experienced, especially early on. In the beginning of my nonprofit career, I worked with a small agency that had an annual budget of approximately half a million dollars. Throughout my two-year tenure as development director, I was regularly admonished by the executive director to “weed out” the donor database.
You see, we were using eTapestry, a web-based fundraising and donor management system. At that time, eTapestry was free for users – as long as your database contained less than 500 names. Yes, you heard that right. 500 names.
Ironically, I had been hired to grow individual giving.
On more than one occasion, I’ve used this story to illustrate the bizarre lengths to which nonprofit organizations will go, blinded in their endless pursuit of *free.* And I hate to say this, but considering what you really need, and should want, *free* is no good.
In fact, the *free* mindset so prevalent in the nonprofit community could very well be the death of them.
I mean, think about it. Web hosting costs all of, what? – $3 to $15 a month? In the whole grand scheme of things, it’s a small sacrifice to make.
And yet nonprofit organizations still operate on the mentality of *free*. Somehow, *free* is better. So organizations will do everything in their power, including spending considerable time and effort, to locate free web hosting.
It doesn’t stop at webhosting, either. *Free* isn’t only insidious — it’s plentiful, and the options are endless. Cobbled-together *free* training programs. *Free* email service providers. *Free* databases. They all come with a hidden price tag — continued inefficiency. No one has said it better than good ole’ Ben Franklin: Time is money. I’ve always believed that the nonprofit cult of free speaks to something much deeper. And, after all, if you’re not committed to funding your mission, how can you possibly be committed to your mission? If you can’t be compelled to spend money to make money, how committed are you? The sacrifices you make add up to a much bigger picture. Decide which ones matter, and go forth to fight for them.
In his recent post, Waiting for the dough: How fear and other existential forces affect the nonprofit sector, Vu wrote:
There’s no gentle way to put this: The nonprofit sector is full of brilliant people paralyzed by fear. Boards fear liabilities and getting sued. Executive Directors fear not having sufficient cashflow for the next payroll; we fear firing staff who are clearly not a good fit for our organizations; we fear the perceptions from the community with every decision we make; we fear giving funders and donors feedback. Development Directors fear losing individual donors; we fear that our org’s brand is weak, or that we are not up to date on the latest fundraising techniques. Program Directors fear our outcomes and metrics are not strong enough; we fear we are not doing enough for our community members; we fear that our programs will shut down and harm the people we serve.
He’s right, of course. And the mentality of lack is, of course, even more apparent for women in the sector.
In her post, Your work or a life: a painful choice no one should have to make, Mary Cahalane notes that:
In organizations with budgets of $500,000 to 1 million, median earnings for men were 13 percent higher than women’s.
‘Lack’ mentality…’paralyzed by fear’…making a choice between work and life. What do you think? For our November Nonprofit Blog Carnival, we want to know: How are you adopting an abundance mindset?
- It might be something like be a weekly practice like Cara’s Motivations.
- Perhaps you’re making daily thank you calls a habit.
- Are there ways your organization is rewarding hard-working staff in ways other than monetary?
Whatever you’re doing to eliminate the mindset of lack and fear prevalent, share and help our entire sector get past it.
Here’s how to submit:
Write a blog post, or even choose a recent post that fits the theme.
Submit your post via email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include your name, your blog’s name and the URL of the post (not your blog homepage).
Get your post in by the end of the day on Friday, November 27th. Check back on Monday, November 30th to see if we’ve included your post in the November blog carnival.
So, what exactly is a Nonprofit Blog Carnival?
It’s a monthly round-up of blog posts on topics for people like you, at nonprofits. Each month, the host creates a theme and sends out the call (in a post like this) for posts on that topic. Then the host (that’s me!) collects the best ones in a round-up post towards the end of the month.
You can write a post for your own website or blog. It doesn’t have to be specifically for the Carnival, or even mention the Carnival. I’ll review the submissions and we’ll feature the best in a post toward the end of the month.
What’s in it for you?
When your post is included in the blog carnival, you’ll bring new traffic to your blog and help raise its online profile. We’ll link back to your blog post. And you’ll get your writing in front of new readers. Plus, you’ll be helping others. And for that, we’ll all be very grateful!
Never miss a Carnival! Sign up for monthly updates here.