Barbara Jessie Black
PTA Thrift Shop
Tom Vande Guchte
Storr Office Environments
“Are you walking the walk?” is a critical question for us to be asking ourselves.
If we look at the organizational needs, we probably need to be focused on innovation. We need to be building the organization to grow for capacity. We need to be looking at how can we reach out to the community to bring more people into what we’re doing so that we can do more good work.
Everyone has a different skillset, so some of it depends on what your skill set is and how you’re called to serve. Whether that’s on a board or whether it’s a volunteer, each person has a unique calling.
I think nonprofits sometimes lose their why and what they’re doing. I think it’s important in every meeting to have what I would call a “mental health minute” to talk about why we’re in the boardroom, why we’re fundraising, why we’re doing the work we’re doing, and I think the simple question of “why we’re doing this” can often lead you down the right path, and pull the heartstrings, and get you to do the thing that you are supposed to do.
You have to continue to walk your own walk and lead by example. To really have that as part of your values and part of your policy system and then continuously talk about it.
Being an employee and telling each gal what they need to do, because I’m doing what I’m telling them to do. So, yes, I am walking the walk. If they’re not really walking the walk, you could do more damage to a person than you could in helping them.
As the leadership team, you have to walk the walk and really continue to do that, and model that behavior because people don’t typically do what you say or ask them to do. They do what they see you do, and if you’re not, if that’s not part of your daily sort of the way you move through the world, chances are that your board and the people that you interact with from a staff perspective aren’t doing that either.
Honesty and transparency are so critical, and I wish I could say with nonprofits that we always see that, but they’re no different than any other business or organization who’s trying to appeal ,whether it’s asking for money or whether it’s asking for volunteers. It’s very easy to position, sell, whatever words you want to use to try and make your case. So the first thing I would ask is, “how honest and transparent are they?” Because if they are having issues, to get help, they have to be honest and transparent.
There’s a great quote, “A calm sea never made a skillful sailor,” and I think if you think about that and we’ve got to challenge each other. This is why it’s a critical question.
See more from the People Matter series here.