If you work at a nonprofit, as I do, you might pause and consider: each and every dollar for your organization comes from a gift.
Obvious at some level, but if you stop to think about this for a second your perspective changes. Think of the seriousness and the intention of every donor, the dreams – small or big – they attach to the donation they have made.
I’m not at all advocating for penury for nonprofit staff; in fact I firmly believe that we need the best people to create massive change. The problems we are working on are so important, so challenging, so complex, and pay is part of the equation in getting and keeping the best folks.
But there’s a certain humility that comes with remembering that you are working on someone else’s dime, that no matter where you are and what you are doing, you are engaged in service work thanks to the trust that someone has placed in you and in your organization.
It never ceases to amaze me that the nonprofit sector has a reputation for being less rigorous, less focused, less fast-paced, less strategic than the private sector. First, because all the people I know who work at nonprofits put their hearts and souls into their work every day. Second because once we’ve made the decision to do this work we have no choice but to be completely committed and to do our best work every day.
The minimum bar is to treat the money your organization spends like your own.
The higher bar is to remember that it is a gift from someone else, entrusted to you to make a change in the world.
It’s a huge responsibility.