Friday, July 17, 2015

When a Former Board Member says "hello".

A non profit board by its nature has to be in a permanent state of flux. New people come in with fresh energy, vision and ideas, while others leave to focus on other ventures in life. We have never forced anyone out, but people have left us. I feel they may felt they were not a good fit at the time- that particular dynamic and focus in our ever shifting reality just didn't work. Perhaps, had they applied today it'd be easier for them to find their place. Last year everything was a bit crazy. We were trying to translate the general vision and feeling I had into specific programs, actions, achievable goals, things for them to do. Those were some crazy weeks as we tried to figure out how what we want to do comes together. It was chaos but it was creative. It was high energy and the juices were flowing. I forgot how much I missed dealing with these people until one of our former Board members dropped us a note a few weeks ago saying that he missed it do. I always felt guilty about not being able to utilize his talents back then - and things are not as crazy today- but I came to terms with the idea that some growing pains are natural, the past is in the past and I won't blame myself for things I have no control over. At the same time we try to have an "open door" policy. People who left sometimes say they want to come back, do something in some other capacity and if only we have a project they could jump into, we let them. Because I try never to end things on a bad note- it's often simply the energy that runs out.

 At the same time a nonprofit is seeking stability. There has to be a constant in that ever shifting reality, a trusted team, a vision, a direction, some form of leadership. And a note from our former Director who I still consider a friend made me think about how much we really did accomplish inn the months since he left. Things do naturally fall into place over time as issues crystallize. I've been so hard on myself writing and rewriting our mission, our history our content in ways that are engaging and understandable , figuring out ways to make the nonprofit and all its different plans come together that I didn't realize that things look better from the outside then  they did twelve, ten months ago. I don't think I've given us enough credit. We introduced consistent branding- it's now FDAAF like the acronym of the name and not DAAF like our original logo. Our mission statement is not seventeen points anymore but four sentences. We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, one of our main goals last year that really drove everyone insane. Our struggle to deal with the IRS stressed everybody out, working on the business plan side of the filing made all of us want to quit at one point. We now have a product driven strategy. If we decide that there's something we can't  do, because we don't have time or ability or resources we can now move on to the next thing. A year ago we were so focused on the wheelchair map we were looking to develop that when we decided to abandon it we really struggled to figure out what to next and if there even was a next thing for us to do. That will never happen again. We also slowly, but surely built content for the website. We may quibble about it not being engaging enough, but it's definitely in a better  shape than it was a year ago.

Hearing from our previous Board Member did a things for me. It reminded me that what we do has value and although it's still a work of progress it's starting to take shape. It showed me that what we do today is something that people on the outside can get excited about it again. That I can now have some real things for them to help with rather than struggling to find something for them to do. That we are transitioning and while it's not perfect - it's better. And - starting this August- the optics will be even better. Being on the inside I often forget that there's progress and change. And although we may be stressed and jaded - things are slowly and surely coming together, even if at times I'm frustrated with it not coming together fast enough. My Board Member's note reminded me of how things were and how we wanted them to be. I do appreciate his kind and encouraging words- someone outside our tiny bubble of stress who's telling us we're good people and we're doing a good job.

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