What horizon line has our focus? The houses sitting on the closest ridge? The mountains in the mid-ground? Is it the sunset taking place in the background? Depending on our mindset and the intended impact of our journey, one of these horizon lines might be more appropriate than the others. Is our expedition team aligned around the same horizon line? It might impact the supplies we procure in advance, the team we assemble, and the speed with which we proceed.
Sometimes, to access a suitable location for our causes to prosper and grow, we must dig in and create a pathway. How might our work be both visible and revealing?
Trends for 2023 and Beyond
What are the three trends that you believe will have the biggest impact on the social sector in the next year? Looking for a proposed list, check out the Nonprofit AF blog.
What if you travel to the mailbox every day and find it empty? What if you sent out a request for funding as a year-end appeal and have not received a response? What if you asked people to provide their insights in a brief poll on an easy-to-return postcard and none returned? What if you announced you were going out of business, and nobody responded with good wishes or an inquiry about what happened?
It is convenient to think that our efforts do not inspire them just because we have yet to hear from our fans. I spoke with a thru-hiker who completed the Appalachian Trail. He remarked on how almost everyone adopted a trail name. Some were memorable, and one, in particular, stood out. A hiker who was roughly ten days ahead of him would sign in at various huts, peaks, and significant trail junctions. An individual that my friend had never met was an enduring source of inspiration. Each time he read this forerunner’s trail name in a trail log, he was inspired to keep going. He never caught or met this backpacker, but it influenced him to reach Mt. Katahdin in Maine and to share the story years later.
Your work might be creating the draft pulling along a whole peloton of invisible followers, and your endurance keeps them active in the adventure. Even if we cannot track every view, like, ride on, and accolade, we may be the linchpin for an unofficial team.
Static Is Not Passive
Barrels of wine are often static, sitting in a wine cave, and stored at a consistent temperature. Yet the fermenting process taking place within the barrels is alive and dynamic.
How might we not mistake static for passive? How about we explore what sits within, under, and around an object that appears to be at rest? A whole ecosystem of life and thought might be evident.
Start Stacking Rocks
A random boulder on the side of the trail passed by countless trail users has become an outdoor studio. One day, an individual decided to stack some smaller rocks on top of the boulder, and others followed, inspired by the work. Now it is a collection of mini-carins.
We never know when our work will resonate. So launch projects that are authentic to our values and be proud if it is a one-off or creates a movement.
Less Than 60 Seconds
What would you say if you had sixty seconds to share why a good acquaintance should join a cause you are supporting? Would you talk about the benefits of being a supporter, the impact to those who receive the services, the problems solved, or the emotional feeling of serving with purpose? Do you have numbers prepared to demonstrate impact, a story that amplifies the organization’s work, or a pitch about how essential your friend’s role would be in the cause?
In my experience, there is no perfect persuasion. I have been told that for every hour of my service, there is a higher likelihood that another individual will obtain greater health/education/safety/higher earnings. I have been told that every dollar I commit will be doubled or exponentially matched. I have been told that this group needs my talents and is ready to launch. I have been told stories that the storyteller cannot finish because they get choked up. I have been shown charts and graphs that make an essential case for support.
Sometimes I say yes; sometimes, I say no. It may be about the enterprise; it may be about me; it may be about my affinity for the asker or the individuals being served. It may be the level of commitment demonstrated by the board and staff. I have attended meetings thinking I am committed to saying yes, and the request to enroll significantly concerned me. I have attended meetings as a courtesy with no intention of signing up and found myself completely embedded in the work that matters.
Sixty seconds and no certainty that our request to join the cause will resonate. But if we believe, we ask and are comfortable with the results. What if we ask authentically and celebrate an convincing answer?
What are keystone indicators that track the health of your ecosystem? In nature, the well-being of certain species has a high correlation to the overall ecosystems vitality.
What keystone barometer help us track the viability of our enterprise? Is it a key set of KPIs. A high net promoter score among donors and board members? The number of acres conserved and dollars raised?
Or is it the quality of the insights and guidance that people provide to set us up for success?
How might we be more insightful in tracking the health of our cause? How might we measure what matters?
What Problems Did You Solve in 2022
We need a prompt to share our successes. It is human nature to focus on the problems that remain in front of us and continue to capture our focus.
What is your list of problems solved in 2022?