The People Who Surround You

on in Nonprofit
“Make a list,” I said.

Not a list of donors, or potential donors, or even potential board members, which was the subject at hand.

A list of people who know people (not to quote Barbra Streisand or anything) – and who think your work is great.

It was amazing how the names, and descriptions of relationships, began to flow, once the imperative/constraint of naming people who could be asked for something now, was off the table.

And so affirming to discover how many people surrounded this organization, and the people who worked for it, and cared.

When a group is facing financial difficulties (and who isn’t, now-a-days), we tend to get hunkered down. No matter the latest economic trends in the news, we feel that somehow, the situation is our fault. If we’d been smarter, better managers, more connected, made wiser choices, our nonprofits could have been nimbler, had more options, been more resourceful.

But reaching out is, in fact, resourceful.

And while the instructions had been to create a list of people who cared, the idea was not that we’d never ask them for help – just that we’d “give” them something first. The magic of witnessing work that changes lives. The breathtaking opportunity to be part of that change moment (we asked them to take part in a youth outing). The camaraderie of doing this alongside someone they respected and liked.

A moment of meaning.

The strategy will get played out over the Fall, so we’ll see where we are when it comes time to actually ask some of these individuals to serve on the board. “Now that you’ve seen our work firsthand, and been part of making it happen, might you step up to a greater place of responsibility for it?” is the planned pitch.

But even before that “consummation” close, the very listing of those who care, and the realization that we are surrounded by those who are – has started this group on the road to revival.

We get so scrunched over, scrutinizing the numbers, that we forget we’re surrounded by a universe that wants us to succeed. And is just waiting for us to ask them to help us.
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