Sliding Into Home

on in Nonprofit
We're at the final stages of preparing for our 30th Anniversary Celebration here at Cause Effective, and we're going through what we've been through with our clients so many times... that feeling of being on a shared enterprise that is rapidly, rapidly, rapidly coming down for a landing.

But it’s the shared enterprise - the team - that I want to take this space to reflect on.

A nonprofit is, by its very nature, one of Tocqueville’s “associations” – a group of individuals coming together for a shared purpose.

In the 1830s, Tocqueville traveled to America from France and wondered at the preponderance of voluntary associations to accomplish social good: “Americans

of all ages, all stations in life, and all types of dispositions are forever forming associations,” he mused.

Almost 200 years later, we still are.

But my point here is not the proliferation of nonprofits in the past several decades – though that’s certainly true – it’s the idea of a joint endeavor. At the heart of board-staff relations, at the core of how we run our organizations, is the concept of collective shoulders to the wheel to get the job done.

And even more than the idea, that concept of collective associations – is the feeling of shared purpose and collaboration.

It’s exciting, it’s affirming, and it’s reinforcing. I’m not in this alone – we’re all pulling the cart along, together.


Nothing brings that home more than sliding into home on a special event.

The whole office is working late. People are taking on responsibilities that “aren’t my job” to help each other out. Board members are responding to emails within seconds, even generating an-idea-a-minute to help the engine along.

I know I’m using a lot of movement metaphors here, but that’s what it feels like – we’re being swept along by a collective force that’s far, far stronger than any one of us doing our jobs in isolation.

And the question post-event?

How to keep that collective energy going, albeit at a lower pitch, to keep the communal strength of purpose and lightning-pitch clarity about goals that we experienced with the event.

Stay tuned…
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