Nonprofit leadership: 5 ways you can make your job better

The Brief
RelSci 5 is a recurring digital resource for and about nonprofit leaders. Its curated articles and insights revolve around a different theme each week and will help you do your job better. This week’s theme is Engagement. 

1. Org-wide engagement. 2013 Gallup poll found that only 13 percent of workers worldwide were engaged in their jobs. Besides being costly (in the US alone, disengagement cost $300 billion in productivity loss), that’s just depressing. We’ve talked about sociocracy, also called dynamic governance, before, but now there’s a fantastic case study out of two Vermont nursing homes, which demonstrates how keeping employees engaged through decision-making structure can revolutionize your organization’s mission.

2. Hooking donors for the long haul. We love this Storytelling Summer series that the Chronicle of Philanthropy is doing. Paul VanDeCarr of Working Narratives recently tackled the problem of balancing (and connecting) small or short-term goals and victories with the larger mission in donor communications. His tips:

  1. Look for organizations that are already doing this well.
  2. Tailor your story to your time frame.
  3. Beware of conflicts between your short-term and long-term narratives.
3. Be better to your colleagues. You pay attention to how you treat the people behind your cause. You take pains over donor communications to make sure they’re both informative and compelling. But what about the people you work with the most? If you work 40 hours a week (We know, we know, but bear with us) that’s 124,800 minutes a year spent in the company of your colleagues. Besides doing your job well, there’s a whole host of ways you can enrich your relationships with your co-workers, which, let’s face it, will only improve your job.

  1. Show your gratitude.
  2. Recognize your co-workers’ victories formally and informally.
  3. Commend your colleagues to their bosses.
  4. Share the spotlight.
  5. Practice active listening.

4. Board stories: Can Alan Mulally get Google’s self-driving cars out of the garage? When it comes to appointing and utilizing your board members, sometimes you have to look outside your sector for great candidates. Google recently made a move that any organization with a board can learn from. The tech giant just announced the appointment of former Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally to its board. The move comes less than two months after Google debuted the latest prototype of its driverless car. Mulally will surely bring his years of corporate and technical leadership to bear in Google’s campaign for autonomous vehicles, but just as important is the manufacturing- and tech-heavy network he brings with him.

5. And just because. It’s Friday, and that seems like a good enough reason as any to watch some funny videos. In this case, nine funny videos by NPOs who know exactly how to engage viewers in their mission: comedians, nonsensical cartoon violence and cats. Also: Malarious.

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