Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Communication

Communication is the primary way a nonprofit perpetuates its mission and educates its constituents. It’s the vehicle by which members of the nonprofit conduct its business.

What we communicate, directly and indirectly, tells a lot about the value our organization places on leadership and how it identifies its leaders. This is particularly important when communicating with internal audiences. Freely sharing information helps equip people across the organization to make informed choices and take more active roles. Sharing stories helps to create common understandings and a joint commitment to mission.

Communication with external audiences advances our mission, with the potential to attract and sustain resources of all types: volunteer, financial, and policy. Communicating clearly, honestly, regularly with external audiences also creates opportunities to attract leaders to your mission and to your organization. Can community and volunteer leaders see themselves not only supporting your mission but also joining your effort to advance it? Can they see themselves in the vivid portrait of the future that you have painted?

Creating the palette from which it is painted is a joint effort, led by a nonprofit’s board. What kind of masterpiece are you creating for your community?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Participation

(In the next four entries, I’ll explore each of the components of LeaderCulture, my nonprofit leadership model.)

Shared experiences are not only the vehicles by which we accomplish the work of our organization, they also create opportunities to build commitment to its mission.

When we have the chance to experience firsthand the impact on lives, we draw energy and understand why it is important that our organization exists. From there, our commitment can grow – along with our potential to become leaders in the mission fulfillment process.

Everyone should have multiple opportunities to participate in activities that advance the mission. The board’s role should be clear; but in all but the smallest nonprofits, board members may find themselves removed from the front line work and feeling somewhat disconnected.

Board leaders should foster opportunities to engage members in high-impact, mission-critical work. They also should create spaces in board work to reflect on how they are making a difference, as individual members and as a group. Engage members in meaningful work as soon as they commit to the organization, and help them maintain focus on how they are advancing your organization’s work in everything they do.