I think so. Well past time, actually.
Even before the global pandemic and the renewed calls for racial justice began changing our sector and communities, I was sounding the alarm that the nonprofit sector was under-investing in the development and support of their leaders. Today, that under-investment is reaching a critical state. It’s time to dismiss the idea that it’s selfish or frivolous to invest time, energy, and money in your development as a nonprofit leader. In fact, it’s never been more important.
In my conversations with sector leaders these last few months, there is a common thread – the weight of tough choices you’re having to make. Many of you have had to cut programs and staff while the need for services is increasing. You’re weighing investments in new ideas while wrestling with an unstable revenue outlook. This is heavy stuff, but here are three things you can do now (and boards and funders can encourage and make space for), to strengthen yourself as a leader and help you carry the load in the coming months:
1. Reignite your passion for the work.
I launched RevJen because I am inspired by helping to remove barriers for changemakers – the people trying to solve the biggest problems in our communities and the world. So, when I get weary, spending time talking directly with those leaders always reenergizes me. What re-energizes and re-inspires you in your cause? Springboard Collaborative founder and CEO Alejandro Gibes de Gac calls this “falling in love with the problem.” Remember what made you fall in love with this work, and return to that — talk to your program staff for new impact stories, talk directly to those you serve, or dive in and do the work on the front lines.
2. Assemble your crew.
You can’t walk this road alone, and you don’t have to. Having the support of a group of peers facing similar issues allows you to unearth root causes of your challenges, share best practices, and helps you find the clarity and confidence to take next steps. It’s a necessity – not a luxury.
This is why RevJen launched R-Squared Peer Groups — to give nonprofit leaders the safe space to share, listen, and work through their most pressing challenges and opportunities.
It’s also why, together with our funding partners, RevJen is making our professionally facilitated, virtual R-Squared Peer Groups available at no cost to nonprofit leaders through March of 2021. I encourage you to learn more and share the opportunity with other leaders.
Let’s figure this out together.
3. Take care of yourself…for real.
They don’t give out awards for the person who loses the most sleep, sends emails at 3 am, or skips the most meals (believe me, I checked). The work we’ve chosen and the times we live in are taxing. Your team, your family, and your friends need you. And, ultimately, your cause isn’t getting your best if you’re constantly running on empty. Do the things that recharge you — carve out that time. Ask a colleague, a board member, or other friend to hold you accountable so you don’t let this slide.
Here’s the thing. The organization you lead and the communities you serve are fundamentally different than they were six months ago. That means you have to think differently too, and you have to invest in yourself. Because in the coming months and years, your leadership will be more important than ever.
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