Friday, October 30, 2009

Advice for moving from a regional nonprofit job to a national nonprofit job

I recently received an e-mail from someone looking to get a marketing position at a national nonprofit. I'd like to think I know a little about this since I have worked for several national nonprofit organizations during my career and I have been active in the national nonprofit sector for some time now.

Here is the advice I provided to get a national nonprofit job:
  • Get involved in some national nonprofit committees and attend national conferences to get your name out there and build your reputation. Network, network, network.
  • Revise your resume to target the national nonprofit that you would like to work for.
  • Get a graduate level certificate or degree in nonprofit management if you want to expand your nonprofit management skills.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Stuck in the Middle

Yesterday was a normal day of work for me until my friend and colleague posted a U Tube video on Facebook. Normally I ignore politics and political shows because I usually get stuck in the middle of a political tug of war between family and friends. This time was no different because Glen Beck was complaining about TV's service campaign (IParticipate) and how Obama's pushing of volunteerism is equal to communism.

I immediately called my husband who watches every possible political show out there liberal and conservative. I was frustrated. How could Glen Beck state that volunteerism equals communism?? My husband assured me I was viewing the video out of context and Glen Beck was frustrated because Obama is refusing to be on any TV network that disagrees with him. He said that the TV networks had no choice but to create the TV service week (IParticipate). I thought that's frustrating too. TV networks should be allowed to have free speech even if people don't always agree with them? Right?

I don't mean to get upset but I'm sad, I'm sad that our nation the left and the right side of the political schema cannot come to an agreement that volunteerism is good. Volunteerism is such integral part of the nonprofit sector and it is such a shame that politics have to get in the way of something I think is really cool - IParticipate.

I try to shy away from the controversial issues on this blog, but I feel like these political tug of wars have got to the point where we forget what matters anymore -- a life of love, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and the meaning of volunteerism -- an altruistic activity, intended to promote good or improve human quality of life

Monday, October 12, 2009

Introspection on Life, Love, and Nonprofits

As many of you read in my post last month I had quite a transformational summer and I've being doing a lot of introspection lately. Last week when I arrived in DC for the Nonprofit HR Conference and sat down for a delightful dinner with my dear colleague Rosetta Thurman, she inspired me and reminded me that I can still blog even if my posts are more introspective.

So here it goes, here are some of the things I'm reflecting on right now.
  • I've spent so many years trying to prove myself and get a ton of work experience, I've often sacrificed my personal needs in the process. I am starting to take care of myself and take time to reflect and think through activities and projects I take on or say yes to. This is really difficult for me because my passion for nonprofit work is my strength and my weakness. I often do too many things at once.
  • My husband and I would like to start a family. This is something we've put off for years because my career has been more important to me. Even though many working mothers have paved the way ahead of me, I am still worried about how I'll be able to balance it all. I still want to be a tenure track professor or a full-time nonprofit employee along with being a mom. I've read numerous books on working moms, (some can be found here, here, and here) yet this still feels like the biggest decision of my life.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Attending Cottey College changed my life

Last month I attended and volunteered at the PEO international convention here in San Diego. Over 3,000 women traveled from all over the US and Canada to come to this convention. Being a part of this convention made me reminisce about all the wonderful support I have received from PEO over the past twelve years.

P.E.O. is a philanthropic organization where women celebrate the advancement of women; educate women through scholarships, grants, awards, loans, and stewardship of Cottey College; and motivate women to achieve their highest aspirations.

I became a member of PEO when I was 18 years old before I attended Cottey College in Nevada, Missouri.

When I started at Cottey I was amazed by the small classes and all the faculty were accomplished PhDs in their respective fields. I joined numerous extra curricular activities including the Student Government Association, Phi Beta Lambda (the business club), Golden Key, the Handbell Choir and Intervarsity Christian Fellowship.

I made long lasting friendships with my suitemates and my coworkers in Cottey dining services. I'll never forget the amazing financial and moral support I received from California PEOs. I loved receiving microwave bags of popcorn, postcards, and other goodies to keep me going when I felt homesick.

While at Cottey I pursued both the Associates of Arts and the Associates of Sciences degrees. I took all the business classes that were offered and my adviser and mentor, Dr. Anne Bunton told me how I could pursue a career in the nonprofit sector. It was through her encouragement I started my nonprofit career journey.

When I completed my two years at Cottey, I was accepted to quite a few schools but chose to attend San Diego State University (SDSU). SDSU is the complete opposite of Cottey. It has over 30k students and co-ed dorms. But because of my experience at Cottey, I was able to hold my own. I spoke up in my classes of 50+ students as well as followed up with my professors after class if I had additional questions.

While at SDSU I further pursued my goal of working in the nonprofit sector and I earned a Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership from American Humanics along with my Bachelors Degree in Business Administration.

Although I have attended many Universities since Cottey, Cottey still remains near and dear to my heart. Attending that school inspired me, encouraged me, and truly changed my life.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Nonprofit HR Conference: The Future of Nonprofit Recruitment

I love discussing the future of the nonprofit sector because the sector is going through a shift. James Weinberg CEO of Commongood careers and Gretchen Anderson from On-ramps Recruiting Firm shared the future of nonprofit recruitment and hiring.

They said:

1. Recruitment in the future done with social media. Yeah!!! LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Ning, etc.

2. Organizations will take full advantage of ALL the people that apply for a job. Organizations will add these candidates to their database and newsletter. These candidates are future donors, volunteers, and supporters of the organizations.

3. Organizations will orient new employees on their first day, week, month (also known as onboarding).

4. Staff will receive professional development opportunities within the organization. For example, career planning, career ladders, mentoring, Peer-to-peer learning, and brown bag lunches.

Nonprofit HR Conference: Communication in the Nonprofit Workplace

Many nonprofits do not engage in communication planning or implementation. This means most nonprofits do not communicate with their staff when any sort of change is going to occur. Communication is so important and key for developing a positive culture within an organization.

The LEA consulting group explained five key steps to integrate communication in the change process.

1) No matter how large or small the change is, create a visual representation of the change. This visual helps communicate the change/change process.

2) Explain the prospective change to employees before it actually happens. Explain what is changing, why it is changing, what it is not changing and who is guiding the change. Then discuss that change with employees. Get their input and response. How do they feel about the change?

Also, if the change is long-term, the change needs to re-communicated to the staff 6months and 1 year into the process.

3) Develop targeted messaging for the change.

4) Then test the targeting messaging in conversations among different constituents in the organization (e.g. advisory groups, online blogs and posting).

Many leaders don’t want to communicate something to their staff until it is perfect. However, change needs to be discussed before it actually happens. The MEMO method will not suffice. The change process described above gets leaders away from perfection to a focused change process with purposeful feedback from employees during the process.

5) Evaluate results of the change and redirect if necessary.

Nonprofit HR Conference: You can work in a flexible workplace

A few months ago I spoke to a group of parents and caregivers that were really struggling to find flexible or part-time nonprofit work in their geographic region. I had mixed feelings about their comments because there is nonprofit research that states, many people (working mothers, part-time workers) are attracted to work in nonprofits because of the flexible work environments.

Today the keynote-Robin Robin, Director of Human Resources of Girls Inc. at the Nonprofit HR conference shared real stories of nonprofits that offer flexible workplaces.

Many nonprofits are shifting from the mindset of "productive employees are those who are in the office" to "productive workers are those that get their work done wherever they are."

 This flexible workplace requires a culture shift for many organizations. Organizations need to reassess how to keep employees engaged and how to help employees stay focused in their work. For some employees this means either working from home or taking a morning to go to their child’s’ doctors appointment. Most importantly, organizations need to create a culture where employees can stay home when they are sick.

In order to make this change to a flexible workplace, managers need to evaluate their staff in new ways. Case in point--younger workers--Robin said that younger workers see results and goals and often do the work when they want to, which may be at 10pm at night or 7am in the morning.

I am excited that many nonprofit organizations are making the shift to provide more flexible work environments. With that said, I’m sad this is not the case with all organizations. Too many employees are working 60 hours a week and are getting burned out. The majority of us cannot do this for very long.

As Robin Robin said “People that have flexibility in how they work will work more efficiently and effectively.”