Wednesday, April 18, 2012
I've been fortunate enough to have very professional, positive supervisors in my internship experiences. But I've heard from my friends the challenges of lunch-room politics. Don't force your intern to listen to office gossip, especially if it's coming from you. This not only creates stress for the intern, it also increases the likelihood that he or she will follow suit.
3. Be Flexible
4. Be Brave
5. Check In
6. Check Out
Just last week I attended an excellent talk by Nancy Barry, where she brought up that many employers think Gen-Yers are disloyal – company-hopping every two years. Nancy Barry has done a lot of research into Gen-Y and what motivates them (us) as employees, and she pointed out that it's not that Gen-Yers are not disloyal, it's that they're loyal to people, rather than companies.
It's true. In my own experience, I will return and work for free for many of the organizations where I've interned if I've had a good relationship with my supervisor. So, check out of work every once in a while. Take a moment to ask your interns about their family or their interests or their weekend. Invest real time getting to know your intern as a person and you'll get real returns.
7. The Buzzword: Network
Interns are notorious for not knowing quite what they want or quite where they're going. Networking is a fabulous way for you to introduce them to the different job opportunities that are out there. My first day at CNM, Katie Edwards and Katy Spicer had me set up interviews with every single CNM staff member, exposing me to all sorts of areas of Center work that aren't necessarily in my job description. I talked to people from development, consulting, accounting, technology and education. Now if I ever find myself looking further into one of those departments, I'll not only have people I can contact to help me out, I'll also remember Katie and Katy for the help they gave me in finding that path.
8. Change It Up
Give your intern a variety of projects. That way, multiple departments will benefit from the intern's expertise, and he or she will not get bored! I even recommend making sure that the intern has a few "menial task" projects – envelope-stuffing, inventory, data entry, etc. It's important that we Gen-Yers understand that every little task furthers the agency's mission and that we are not above doing anything to support that mission. Honestly, I quite enjoy a good menial task every now and then. After a long today of networking, there's nothing like being able to push a big stack of envelopes out the door and say, "Look! I did it!"
9. Document, Document, Document
Have your intern keep track of what he or she accomplished during the internship. I'm currently keeping an internship journal for college credit, and it actually helps tremendously with keeping track of the skills, products, events and relationships I've developed at the Center – everything that future employers are going to grill me about in my next interview.
10. Stay in Touch!
Again: Gen-Y interns are relationship-oriented. Stay in contact and we'll be surprisingly willing to help you out – whether it's volunteering at your next fundraiser or funneling future interns towards your organization
Thursday, April 12, 2012
|Cynthia B. Nunn, CNM President|
I had the pleasure of sitting down with Center for Nonprofit Management (CNM) president, Cynthia Nunn, to find out how she came to be an executive director and what advice she would impart to those of us who aspire to lead.
Katy: So Cynthia, when did you fist realize you wanted to be an ED?
Cynthia: It was in the 1970s. I was asked by the City of Dallas to put myself in position to accept City money to assist individuals who needed training for employment. In order to do that I started a nonprofit from the ground up which was my first opportunity to be a leader. I was the founder and only executive.
Katy: Interesting… What was the nonprofit you founded?
Cynthia: It doesn’t exist anymore but it was Assessment and Assignment Unit of Dallas, Inc. (AAU). The name was descriptive of what we were doing and not necessarily the catchiest.
Katy: Where did your career take you after that?
Cynthia: Since I was so heavily involved in training and employment, when AAU closed during the Reagan years, I went to work for the National Alliance of Business and then the Private Industry Council. I wasn’t an ED at these agencies but I did hold leadership roles.
Katy: When did you first decide you wanted to lead an organization?
Cynthia: It was actually when I was working at the Center for Nonprofit Management (for the first time) as director of consulting. We had just launched the nonprofit job listing Opportunity Nocs, now known as Opportunity 501, and I had a friend who was classmate in Leadership Dallas. She asked me if I had been paying attention to the ED jobs being posted. It was then that I began to consider applying for an ED position myself. The executive director position at Bryan’s House was open so I applied there and was hired as their ED.
Katy: What did you learn at Bryan’s House?
Cynthia: At Bryan’s House I was finally able to put the leadership skills and knowledge I picked up at AAU and CNM into action. I learned that the organization’s mission is very important, however it must be supported by resources otherwise it cannot exist. As an ED you must be able to convince people that their money is safe in your hands; that making a gift to your organization is a good investment. It was definitely an interesting experience. The mission of Bryan’s House is to respond to the needs of children and their families by providing medically-managed child care, respite care, and community-based, family-centered support services. We served children and babies which is an easy population to promote as it connects to people’s heart. But AIDS still frightens people, so we also had our challenges.
Katy: Any proud leadership moments you’d like to share?
Cynthia: One thing I pride myself on is that I created a new organizational culture for Bryan’s House. I made sure that everyone knew they were critical to the mission.
Before I arrived there had been an entrenched “Us and Them” mentality. To help combat this, I required everyone to trade places. When daycare staff went to training, instead of hiring interims as usual, I had the executive staff care for the children. We had the daycare workers teach us how to do it which helped unite everyone tremendously. It also enabled us to see our mission in action on the front line. Staff came together in a way that they hadn’t before and that was beautiful to see. The realization sunk in that we were ALL working together to serve the children.
Another thing I’m proud of is the capital campaign we ran to secure a new facility for Bryan’s House. Our goal was to raise $4.5M and we came in significantly above that goal (I want to say we raised $5.5 or 6M). That was the last thing I did at the organization and I’m very proud of it, even though I only spent one week in the new building before moving on to Boys & Girls Club of Greater Dallas. I felt so strongly about seeing this project to completion that I gave the board of Bryan’s House 5 months notice of my departure. I told Boys & Girls Club that if they couldn’t wait for me then I would pass on the opportunity. Moving locations was a critical point for Bryan’s House and I wasn’t about to leave them in the lurch.
Katy: Wow, that was very decent of you. Tell me more about Boys & Girls Club.
Cynthia: While I was ED at Bryan’s House I was contacted by some members of the Boys & Girls Club board. They were having some issues and wanted my advice since they remembered me from my CNM days as director of consulting. So I gave them my recommendations and finally they said they were looking for a new president and would I be interested in applying. I really was enjoying the work I was doing at Bryan’s House, but this was national organization and would open up new leadership opportunities for me. I was intrigued, so I applied and ultimately was hired as the president for Boys & Girls Club. At that organization we had national, regional, area, state and local responsibilities - It was some job!
I didn’t realize the full extent of the demands that would be placed on me in that role. I had to be concerned about many different interface points. Even though I was running and raising money for a local organization, the programs were handed down to us from the national level. Also, professional development and training was handled regionally and the regional office was up in Richardson. Boys & Girls Club had a culture where everybody attended things with the kids they worked with and we were constantly traveling. The organization is very involved with youth in competitions and leadership development and it was exhausting.
A big thing at Boys & Girls Club was that you had to be seen as a being a team-player. You had to attend to national strategies and be engaged in that work as well as the local priorities. I had a lot on my plate - A whole lot… We had 10 sites and also a presence in 12 schools. The police could and would call you in the middle of the night because someone was stealing copper out of the air conditioner. If I couldn’t get hold of the COO, I would have to get up and go to meet the police.
In that respect there was a commonality between Boys & Girls Club and Bryan’s House. Both carried significant demands and at Bryan’s House, any time the parameter of the building was breached, or if there was a fire, or anything else happening nearby; if the police were involved or if the staff were afraid, I would be the one to get up in the middle of the night and see to the situation.
Katy: What was the biggest leadership lesson you learned at Boys & Girls Club?
Cynthia: I learned that in a large organization you have to find ways to decentralize the leadership. You simply cannot manage it all. Instead, you must infuse your management and leadership beliefs in all your employees. The team is absolutely critical and as a leader you must get everyone on the same page. You must be the person to bring the different personalities and backgrounds together to deliver one unified mission.
Katy: What would be your advice to aspiring EDs?
Cynthia: A big part of leadership is evolution. It’s understanding the skills needed to lead an organization and then either honing or building those skills. Being an ED is a serious matter and is definitely not for the faint of heart. You must have something in you that says: “I can, I will, I must”.
Listen to people who have sage advice; people who have been where you want to go. You must be willing to sacrifice things that others take for granted, like staying up late because you have problem to solve. You will end up putting your personal time and resources into making life better for your employees and very often they won’t even know it. You must be able to exercise good judgment at all times and have the ability to make decisions based on facts and circumstances; hopefully laced with care and concern for the people working with you. It is important to remember that you do not (and cannot) know it all. You cannot do the entire job alone and therefore must value the experience, skills and leadership abilities of others. Put authority where you put the responsibility. Allow people to make mistakes and then allow them to correct them. Give them the chance to try again.
I was told in my very first job to keep the money clean. It has always been important to me to have good fiscal controls so that gifts entrusted to me through the organization are managed responsibly. You also need to have some fun. If you get too serious the job will wear you all the way down. You must understand that it is truly lonely at the top and that you do ultimately bear the weight of the responsibility alone. My advice would be to find people in similar positions with whom to share your successes and challenges.
Katy: Thanks, Cynthia. Are there any leadership myths you’d like to dispel?
Cynthia: I think many people don’t know that being an ED is as hard a job as it is. A lot of your work is planning and thinking and strategizing and building and maintaining relationships. It can look to others that you’re not as busy as they are, but these responsibilities can be very stress producing if you don’t take care of yourself.
As an ED your board is always going to be challenging, so make sure you build the right relationships with the individuals who are in power. Don’t be afraid to change your strategy if the one you’re using isn’t working. You may have to do this every 1-2 years, depending on how often you change board chairs.
Remember that every board member is a boss. The day you forget that is the day you get yourself in trouble. Even though the board chair is your ultimate boss, all of the individuals on the board stand between you and success, both personal and professional. Never forget that.
Katy: Any last thoughts?
Cynthia: I do enjoy the work even though it’s tough. I have been able to encourage young leaders into leadership roles and support them while they’re getting their feet wet. Mentoring is such an important part of who I am and what I want to do. In the next 3 - 4 years, 65% of baby boomers in the nonprofit profession will retire; many of them in leadership positions. We have a responsibility to the emerging leaders to help them build the skills they need to be successful. After that, we have to step back and let them do it their way.
Katy: Thanks, Cynthia. This has been very enlightening.
Katy Spicer, Director of Sales and Marketing, in conversation with Cynthia B. Nunn, President, Center for Nonprofit Management
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
There’s a common misconception that branding is only something that “big” nonprofits can afford or have time to consider. But in truth, whether you’re thinking about it or not, your organization has a brand.
Not unlike the many brands of products on a shelf in a store, people have a multitude of options when it comes to giving of their time and money to nonprofits. Investing in and shaping your nonprofit's brand is the first step to building loyal and committed brand champions.
What is branding? And how does it affect non-profits?
First off, you must have a clear understanding of what branding is and how it affects your nonprofit. There are a few things branding is not. It is not simply your name or logo, nor is it only the visual aesthetic associated with the way your organization communicates.
Your brand is the sum of the total experience that someone might have when coming in contact with your organization. A nonprofits brand is how volunteers, staff, donors and clients feel about, experience and perceive your organization. From the way you visually represent yourself to the way you answer the phone, this total experience is affected by every way you communicate your brand.
Simply put, your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.
How is branding different than messaging?
While your message is part of your entire brand, your brand is the platform in which your message is told or delivered.
For many nonprofits, their cause is truly their reason for being. Because of this, many organizations focus solely on how they “message” this cause. The downfall with this approach is that the brand experience is often times neglected.
While messaging is directly related to your cause, branding provides an opportunity to build loyalty and commitment to your organization.
What are the imperatives you must consider when exploring your brand?
Have a vision for your brand.
The vision of your brand is its reason for being. Often times the first step in developing your brand is looking at what you want to convey to someone that interacts with your organization. Your brand vision should speak to the higher calling of your organization.
Establish a clear position for your organization.
Let’s face it, even in the nonprofit landscape there’s competition. Lots of it. Everyday you’re vying for dollars, exposure, volunteers and time. Often times in the same sandbox.
With this competitive landscape, you must consider your unique position in the marketplace. What is completely unique about what your organization does or how you do it in the marketplace? This unique and compelling position should be embedded into every part of your storytelling.
Develop the voice of your brand.
The voice of your organization goes far beyond the cause (message) you’re trying to get across. It takes a deeper look at the personality of who you are.
Think of any great brands you know. Take Apple for instance. The cool and accessible personality they portray is communicated in everything they do; from their commercials to packaging to the Apple retail store experience. The result is fiercely loyal fans of their brand.
Although your voice will center on your cause, it is still imperative for any nonprofit to create a strong voice for their brand.
There is no doubt that your brand can be your organization’s greatest asset. Like all good things, it takes thoughtful consideration and development, but investment at this level can truly pay dividends in the end.
For more discussion on nonprofit branding, join the Center for Nonprofit Management Networking Event, Wednesday, April 4, 7:30 to 9:30 am at Café Express (3230 McKinney Avenue, Dallas, Texas 75204), where I’ll be talking about “7 Ways to Make the Most of Your Nonprofit’s Brand.”