Monday, February 16, 2015

Wasting talent

Today my non profit is a 501(c)(3) charity. We have the Florida solicitation license and we are exempt from the state sales tax. Our USPS rate application for tax exempt entities is ready to be sent off and we're looking into getting a permit to fundraise at the DOT rest stops and Welcome Centers. My Creative Director just revised our logo and gave us our new letterhead. We have claimed and edited our presence on GuideStar and Causes. There are people working on our website. It's moving forward and although it's unfortunate that it's actually live as people add content to it, it will be done in a week, maybe two. We have secured our Google Grant with Youtube and Ads components as well as got involved with TechSoup for some software solutions. And I know see that this is where it actually starts. We have built the foundation to actually build a Foundation. With all the elements we need, we are finally becoming a "real" nonprofit. And I know that I've expressed this sentiment in many other ways before, but having that bare minimum now made me think of how much talent we've wasted along the way, because we were not ready to receive what they could give us. Because we couldn't give them what they needed to in turn do what they do for us. Over the last few weeks I've been mostly filing applications and receiving permits. I know that our Director of Resources is putting together a strategy to get us the funds we need. I don't know what it is yet, but whether she plans to focus mostly on grants, send volunteers off to public highways, have an event, an online fundraiser or do a mailing campaign I want us to be ready. I want her to her pick of going any route she can think of and give her any fundraising tools I can. This in turn made me again think about the time that we were in flux, that we weren't ready, that -I think- we recruited some of the most professional volunteers prematurely, wasted their skills and their time, frustrating them and ourselves in the process. Two people that stayed on board av year later are my Resource Director and my creative. I think quite frankly that we didn't have our vision formed at those stages yet, and it may had been a nifty idea, but it was incredibly unfair to have anyone else step in to figure it out for us. I've also learnt that not everything I was planning can be accomplished with volunteers. It was our Linked In recruited Creative Director who pointed out that building a software developing team- something a recruiter can take weeks to put together may not be the best idea, their good intentions aside, using randomly matched volunteers with different schedules, skill-sets and tempers. (FDAAF main mission was to develop an app for the disability community). She then suggested we go at it another way. Strengthen our core charity fundraising activities, recruit volunteers in that direction instead and find a way to pay for it. With her we also developed a new project strategy. What we want to build as our minimum mission over the next three years. There'd be more of course if funding permits, but if there isn't we'd be content with that. Our volunteer management strategy has also changed. No more recruiting everyone all at once. They'll come along as needed, as we develop more in certain areas. No more expecting other people to come in and give me answers I should have about my organization and the things I don't know. With all those coming together, it's an exciting time for me- I see possibilities. I see where we can take this if we do it right. And it seems to me we are finally doing what we're supposed to, instead of waiting on a volunteer to come in and magically fix our non profit. The FDAAF website is not much to look at yet, it doesn't have a donate button, but it changes everyday. The only active recruitment operation we've had in weeks was "content writer" and I think we're set for the moment. Either way, if you visit you'll see my dream come to life.

1 comment:

  1. "... we recruited some of the most professional volunteers prematurely, wasted their skills and their time, frustrating them and ourselves in the process." I know exactly what you mean, Ralph. It's not just volunteers either, but people who we pay to do things, and we waste their energy and talent - because the organisation is not yet ready or our Vision is not strong enough or we simply lack the capacity to put their contributions into effective action. But let's not get over-excited about 'the time of flux' and what is *not* achieved. Perhaps all new and young organisations have to go through "a time of flux"; perhaps it is a necessary learning phase, learning about ourselves as much as the organisation we are trying to build. What if "flux', in various guises is a permanent state and what we have to continually learn is how to continuously minimise the waste, to maximise the benefit of talent? Thanks for being, as always, thought-provoking. (PS The link in the last sentence needs a gap after 'visit' and maybe the comma afterwards deleting.)