Nonprofit Leadership Tips

Over the past 10 years of my career, one thing has been constant… I have volunteered with some outstanding non-profit organizations. It’s been a labor of love and I’d like to share with you a few of the many valuable lessons I’ve learned through the years.

Future City Central Pennsylvania Steering Committee

1.) There are two things you must do constantly – Fundraise and Recruit Good People
– Fundraising is more than just asking people for money. It’s establishing partnerships and figuring out what benefits both parties. At its core, it’s relationship building.
– Good people = people who are passionate about the cause and willing to give their time, energy and passion to moving the cause forward. They are also accountable and reliable.

2.) Say thank you – whether it is hand written notes, or simply saying “thanks for taking the time to do this”… Go out of your way to acknowledge volunteers. This is pretty much the only thing they’ll get out of their involvement aside from their personal satisfaction.

3.) Be kind to all contributors and volunteers – “A drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gal. So with men. If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend. Therein is a drop of honey which catches his heart, which, say what he will, is the highroad to his reason” Abraham Lincoln

4.) Think big – I truly believe that ANYTHING is possible. There are only two things standing between you and your loftiest goals – Resources and Will… If you are committed enough, it will get done. Be unstoppable and expect adversity. Adversity will only build your will.

5.) Don’t be afraid to ask and keep asking – eventually someone will say yes. Then you can move on to the next ask.

6.) Make sure your personal goals align with the organizations – If they aren’t aligned your involvement and your commitment will not be sustainable.

Green Apple Day of Service – Tree Planting at City Island Harrisburg Pa

7.) Nonprofits are at very best 3rd on the list of volunteers priorities – Family and work come first, understand this and support this. Volunteers will love you for it.

8.) Make goals and a plan to achieve them – Get buy in and allow people to embrace how they can contribute to the outcomes. Celebrate all outcomes, big and small. Always be in action towards your goals. If you fail to meet your goal, set a new goal. Remember to keep goals simple, measurable and attainable.

9.) Make it fun – If it’s not fun, you shouldn’t be doing it

HYP Golf Outing Fundraising Event

10.) Everyone involved matters – every volunteer matters, make sure everyone has a role and is held accountable. The rest will take care of itself.

My mother taught me at an early age that we all have special gifts and we should share them and support those that need it most. For me, being involved in non-profits and their various causes have given me purpose. Purpose above my career and above my personal life. It’s broadened my impact on the world. At the end of the day, I believe we all want to leave the world a better place. Volunteering and leading in the non-profit world is a great opportunity to do this.

Through nonprofits I have grown as a leader and as a person. The experiences and relationships I have built through my involvement mean the world to me. I hope you have the same opportunity in your life.

Please share your stories of involvement or great non-profits below.
Here are some resources to help you along your non profit journey.

Great resources if you’re looking for an opportunity near you:
Volunteers of America – http://www.voa.org/Landing.aspx
Big brothers and big sisters – http://www.bbbs.org/
Volunteer match – http://www.volunteermatch.org/
Top 100 nonprofits – http://topnonprofits.com/lists/best-nonprofits-on-the-web/

Nonprofit Leadership resources:
Board source – https://www.boardsource.org/eweb/
Council of nonprofits – http://www.councilofnonprofits.org/resources/resources-topic/boards-governance/board-development
How to develop yourself as a nonprofit leader – http://www.bridgespan.org/Publications-and-Tools/Career-Professional-Development/DevelopMyself/How-to-Develop-Yourself-Nonprofit-Leader.aspx

Nonprofits close to my heart:
Future City Competition – Central Pennsylvania – http://futurecity.org/pennsylvania-central
USGBC Central Pennsylvania – http://www.usgbc-centralpa.org
Harrisburg Young Professionals – http://www.hyp.org
Youth Build – http://www.youthbuild.org
Habitat for humanity – http://www.habitat.org

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Green Apple Day Of Service

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Mark Kurowski (K&W Engineers) and I taking part in the Green Apple Day Of Service

What is the Green Apple Day Of Service?

USGBC and The Center For Green Schools created this annual event to engage people around the world and give them an opportunity to give back to their community.  The goal is to educate children/students about sustainability in their very own backyard.  They have a fantastic website (www.mygreenapple.org) which has tracked, organized and reported on the thousands of service projects that have been going on around the world on September 29, 2012.

Who was involved?

Our local Green Apple Service event was coordinated by The Emerging Professionals Committee of USGBC Central Pennsylvania.  In just a couple of weeks, Sarah Knehr and Justin Kovaleski were able to secure over $1500 in donations for trees/mulch/tools and round up 30+ volunteers to help.  People of all backgrounds came out to chip in… Professional engineers, occupational therapists, construction workers, parents, children and college students.  It was great to see such a positive response to the event and really inspired me to do more projects like this on an ongoing basis.  Penn State Harrisburg and their newly founded USGBC Student Group was there with numerous volunteers.  Penn State Harrisburg also visited with Middletown Area Middle School students this week to teach them about green buildings and the environment.

Penn State Harrisburg USGBC Student Group

What did we accomplish?

We accomplished many things today…  We connected people… We improved City Island by planting 15 trees… We supported a struggling city in need (Harrisburg)… We educated students about giving back… and most of all We Had FUN!  People really do enjoy rolling their sleeves up once in a while and getting dirty.  It was great to see so many smiling faces and people really looking to help each other with this project.  I even got to see a mom teach her two middle school age children how to plant a tree… quite remarkable!

How can you get involved and support future projects like this one?

Become a volunteer with your local chapter of the US Green Building Council… Our website in Central Pennsylvania is www.usgbc-centralpa.org.  Our chapter covers 37 counties throughout Central Pa and includes large areas such as State College, Lancaster, Berks, York, Harrisburg, Carlisle and Chambersburg.  We have many great committees doing good work and fun interactive events on a monthly basis.  Check here for upcoming events!

Donate now… Non-profits like USGBC Central Pa need financial resources in order to continue to provide community service projects, educational programs and to advocate for sustainability to local and state government.  Please consider donating today to ensure this organization can continue to support sustainability in your community for years to come.