First things first, I need to pay homage to my new nonprofit cyber-buddy, Vu-Le, creator of website and blog called "Nonprofits With Balls". As I just told him in an email, I do not know how I came across his site, but I am so glad I did as it is cathartic and funny and unfortunately in some cases - so dead-on true...
I launched this web site towards the end of 2015 and then dropped off the edge of the earth, or so it seemed to me. As a reminder, I too run a small nonprofit organization in addition to trying to get this new business venture "Greater Good Consulting" going. So like all nonprofit Executive Directors (and other staff) I am 'under water' as the saying goes.
Vu has inspired me to think a little differently about my own blog associated with this consultant business of mine. The one that I am discovering is still apparently in the incubation stage! Field of dreams did not work - I built it (website) and they visit - but they have not come to stay and engage (yet). I will get better at this I am sure...so for now I am going to try writing about things that I know and feel, as opposed to that which I hope drives traffic/business.We shall see how that works.
Anyway, the Unicorn reference is one of Vu's and I love it, while at the same time the underlying message is one that is the basis for so much frustration and frankly disbelief on the part of folks like me, who are charged with doing so much, with so little. Vu uses the Unicorn and all its magical properties to describe the donor/grantor/corporate donor who expects that we are doing just that - performing magic - as opposed to missions. You know the conversation. The one where the potential donor expresses disdain for funding wages; "...we don't like to pay for people." As Vu puts it: "Who do they think does this work - Unicorns?!"
The wage conversation is just one of many like that, you know the others. As Kurt Vonnegut used to often write, "So it goes", and so we carry on, often one day at a time, I find this helps me to stay focused on the here and now, which is ultimately all there really is, despite the voice in my head that wants me to worry about the future instead.
And so Vu has inspired me to write about that which I know and that which I have experienced each day, seven days a week, for the past six years. The frustrations, inspirations that is on any given day: crazy, fulfilling, stressful and at times, seemingly impossible. The nonprofit world is all these things and more. Trying to navigate the multiple roles we are expected to play as nonprofit leaders, can be daunting to be sure. Yet, there are those moments, where magic truly does take place. Unicorns or no unicorns, magic really does occur and often we are too busy to see it happen. Children are healed. Families get back together. Lives are recovered and new dreams are born. These are the daily miracles that also characterize our jobs.
For me what I know today, in this crazy world where expectations are so high, as to be sometimes unrealistic: in the end we are all truly privileged to get to do this work.
In my case, I am blessed by the willingness of my wife to continue to sell homes and in so doing, provide the bulk of our personal income. This allows me to do this work, instead of the mind-numbing work I did for almost 30 years. I am also blessed by a community of supporters and volunteers, who make our work possible each day. People who understand the value of what we do, despite the fact that they might not really understand the hurdles we face each day. We love them for their support and forgive them for their questions about why we have to pay for wages, or why the overhead is 8%, or if we use "evidence-based practices" and so on...
I don't know about you, but what keeps me centered in the midst of the insanity, is the touchstone of realizing that for today, I am exactly where I am supposed to be, doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing. How lucky am I?