Hildy Gottlieb's new book, The Pollyanna Principles, draws from her experience as an educator and consultant to address a real challenge for charities and other organizations working in the community—regardless of the quality of work, most efforts don’t realize significant improvement in a community’s quality of life. Check out the first part of a two-part interview we had with her.Read More
This week I'm going back to school. I will be auditing a course that I think will not only help me figure out the higher education conundrum (see my 7/10 post), but will also help me be a better new generation philanthropist by learning its past, present and future. The professor has allowed me to blog on the class, but requested that I not specify the class to maintain its integrity with the students who are taking it. So between this month and December, expect weekly musings and insight about the readings (which are in the public domain) as I progress through the semester. I hope good conversation can occur on this site as we all go forward in our philanthropic and foundation work. ...some foundations, especially large ones, have grander and more aggressive ambitions. They aspire to function as proactive change agents that are instrumental in incubating and creating new institutions, fostering and deploying new knowledge, cultivating and spreading innovative ideas, spawning and ...we will examine: (1) the original and continuing rationale for the existence of foundations; (2) significant examples of this catalytic role achieving its intended purpose; (3) high profile instances where best intentions backfired; and (4) the controversies that can arise when foundations choose sides in ideologically charged debates. The seminar will also concentrate on the spirited criticism that occasionally erupts over whether foundations are sufficiently transparent and accountable for their expenditures and impact; whether they should exist in perpetuity or be required to spend their way out of existence; whether and how they should be held responsible for the dubious actions of grantees; and whether they should be subjected to more rigorous legislative and regulatory strictures and oversight.
And just to whet your appetite, here's an excerpt from the school's website about the class:
sustaining social movements, informing and shaping public opinion, reforming major institutions and service delivery systems, and impacting public policy.
...some foundations, especially large ones, have grander and more aggressive ambitions. They aspire to function as proactive change agents that are instrumental in incubating and creating new institutions, fostering and deploying new knowledge, cultivating and spreading innovative ideas, spawning and
...we will examine: (1) the original and continuing rationale for the existence of foundations; (2) significant examples of this catalytic role achieving its intended purpose; (3) high profile instances where best intentions backfired; and (4) the controversies that can arise when foundations choose sides in ideologically charged debates. The seminar will also concentrate on the spirited criticism that occasionally erupts over whether foundations are sufficiently transparent and accountable for their expenditures and impact; whether they should exist in perpetuity or be required to spend their way out of existence; whether and how they should be held responsible for the dubious actions of grantees; and whether they should be subjected to more rigorous legislative and regulatory strictures and oversight.
My vision for this blog has been to help move young people and people of color to leadership positions in the philanthropic sector because I believe it is important to bring new voices to the often closed world of philanthropy. Researching the topics I have covered here like accepting criticism, new technologies to improve grantmaking, results-only work, and not getting too full of yourself, have all helped me on my own journey of becoming a better grantmaker. That journey has brought me to the next phase of my philanthropic career. It is with a mixture of unbridled enthusiasm and awestruck humbleness that I announce my appointment as the new Executive Director of the Headwaters Foundation for Justice. Headwaters is an amazing organization and it is an honor to be able to lead their work to create a more just Minnesota.
I normally have a "don't ask, don't tell" policy about my age because I think when people hear how young you are they often ignore what you have to say but I will make an exception today. At 30 years old, I will be one of the few young people in the country running a foundation. I am not one of those individuals that is happy about being the ONLY woman, or African American, or young person in a leadership position, so today I ask you to look at your own career goals and figure out what it will take for you to get to your "would love to do it but don't think it would be possible in a million years" job. The field needs your skills, expertise, and insights to reach its full potential, so let yourself be open to the possibility.
Being a young professional, it is important to brand yourself as an informed source in your chosen field. I think this is important for a variety of reasons but one of the most important is to lend credibility to the work that you do. A way that top executives get this credibility is by hiring a PR person that will get them in front of the media or by subscribing to services that list sources that reporters are looking for as they write stories. Both of these options are probably out of the price range of most young professionals but I have found a great service at my favorite price, free.
Help a Reporter Out is the brainchild of Peter Shankman. Peter is the founder and CEO of The Geek Factory, Inc., a boutique Marketing and PR Strategy firm located in New York City, with clients worldwide. Help A Reporter (www.helpareporter.com) connects journalists with the sources they require using a social media platform. HARO (Help A Reporter Out) is already over 14,000 members and growing, and has a growing stable of national journalists using the service on a daily basis.
If you are looking for an effective way to get your name or your organization's name out to a national audience, check out this option. Peter is a great guy that manages this service at no cost because he believes good Karma follows those that help each other out.
Your resume can be a key branding tool. Below are some tips from my Do Good Guide on Branding Yourself for Personal and Professional Success.
- Contact information is easy to find—many ways of contact provided including home phone, cell phone, professional email (not something like email@example.com), and address.
- Work history descriptions are concise, precise, thorough, and do not over-use modifiers like very, extremely, really, etc. Descriptions are written in active voice. –Prepared monthly marketing reports, rather than –Monthly marketing reports were prepared.
- Resume does not contain any typos, misspellings, or grammar mistakes.
- Focus is on accomplishments rather than responsibilities. Example: planned and implemented three large fundraising events, completed three direct mail campaigns each year and oversaw membership renewal mailings. Instead of: responsible for fundraising.
- Contains juicy, descriptive words that relate to your specific field of work.
Your resume or work history on LinkedIn is a key place to highlight your accomplishments. So make sure you make the most out of those opportunities.
*This is where I would work from :) Photo courtesy of BDA Rebel
Back in November of 2007 I wrote a post for Tactical Philanthropy about how work flexibility in the foundation sector would increase the effectiveness of grantmakers. That post was inspired by the great work of Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson, the creators of Best Buy's Results-Only Work Environment (R.O.W.E.). Cali and Jody now have a wonderful book out called "Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It." This dynamic duo are proposing a new way of work where "people can do whatever they want, whenever they want, however they want, as long as the work gets done." This is NOT the same as telecommuting or flexible schedules. This is about completely changing the nature of work so that employees are accountable to what they accomplish for the organization, not how many hour they sit behind a desk. This also isn't some touchy feeling model of making employees happy, it's also about efficiency. Best Buy has seen a 35% increase in productivity since implementing the model, a decrease in turnover (a very expensive problem for nonprofits), and have a much happier and committed workforce.
I think this new model is important to the social sector because the work that we do is so important to the healthy functioning of our communities but the normal structure of work makes it impossible for you to be a normal functioning part of the community that you live in. How much time do you spend in traffic getting to your job and how much time do you spend in you local park getting to know your neighbors? Who says that you can't be working from a laptop while sitting in a park chatting with your neighbors?
People work for nonprofits because they care about the work of the organization, what if nonprofits changed the nature of work to show that they care about the people that are making the organization successful?
What would it take to make this the norm in the nonprofit sector?
Every time I use LinkedIn's question and answer feature I am amazed at how amazing my LinkedIn network is. (If you aren't already a part of my LinkedIn network, click on the "add me to your network" button on the right). I have been trying to think of new topics for my professional development guides and asked what the greatest career challenge is for young people in nonprofits and because the answers were so great I thought I would share some of them with you:
I see a real need for mentors in our world. I think for profit corporations do a much better job providing opportunities for young professionals to develop meaningful relationships with older professionals in the same field. We tend to "go it alone" too much!
Hi Trista! The greatest challenge I see is the low ceiling in the nonprofit world. As an ambitious young nonprofit professional, it's reasonable to assume I could hit top of my career ladder in 10 years. Where will I go from there?
Young people need to be invested in-both with money, opportunity, time, and energy.
I challenged with mapping out a career path; while I know what my desired end result is, I'm not quite sure of all the steps I should be taking to get there.
What do you see as the greatest career challenge facing young nonprofit staff members?
Today I am out of the office sick. This is not the kind of sick where I don't come in because I don't want the rest of the office to catch my cold and I just work at home and get my family sick. This is the type of dizzy, fever, headache sick that makes it impossible to actually have a focused thought about work. I never thought of myself as a workaholic. I strive for work-life balance, I don't take work home (if I can help it) and I refuse to get email on my Blackberry because I don't want to be one of those parents that is checking email at the T-Ball game. Yet, I have one day where I physically can't think about work and feel completely disoriented. There is probably some sort of epiphany in here about the subtle creep of work into every aspect of our lives but I don't have the energy today to figure that out. If you have any extra brainpower on that topic share your insights below.
Here's to your health and life-balance,
Penelope Trunk is one of my favorite career writers. She recently wrote a post about Gen X and Y finding fulfillment before retiring to the lake cabin. From Penelope:
Maybe the reason we’re so bad at saving for retirement is that retirement seems so ridiculous today. The workplace no longer demands that we put off our hopes and dreams until we’ve worked 40 years. And Baby Boomers aren’t exactly retiring in droves either, which makes younger people think that maybe they won’t want to retire either.
This demographic shift in thinking about careers leads to a new way to think about retirement and dream jobs and team work. Young people think their parents—Baby Boomers—missed out on this phase. Baby Boomers worked longer hours than any other generation and there’s a nagging feeling that it wasn’t all that necessary - that we can have engaging, rewarding careers without spending such a large percentage of our life at the office.
In fact, today there’s an intense peer pressure among young people to find the fulfilling dream job right away. This younger generation watched their parents put off their dreams until they paid their dues only to find themselves laid off mid-career, or underfunded for retirement late in their career. So Generation Y is not waiting. Read the rest here.
Every day brings us a little bit closer to the Council on Foundation's national conference in DC on May 4-7, and I, for one, am very excited. I know that the words excitement and conference don't usually go together. Convention halls filled with people twice your age with less than half an interest in anything that you have to say is not usually how you might like to spend your out-of-town time but this conference promises to be different. So today I bring you the top 10 reasons why the Philanthropy Summit is going to be the best four professional development days of 2008:
- Thanks to the hard work of EPIP, RG, and 21/64 there will be a whole conference track devoted to generational issues (a COF first)
- There will be Emerging Leaders Salons which give you an opportunity to have engaging discussions with philanthropy's greatest thinkers like Luz Vega-Marquis (Marguerite Casey Foundation) and Susan V. Berresford (recently retired from Ford Foundation).
- There will be an Emerging Leader Reception and I don't want to raise any hopes here, but last year this fabulous event included a macaroni and cheese bar, where you picked your own toppings. This has to be the most innovative thing that has happened to food since the creation of macaroni and cheese.
- Right in the exhibition hall there will be a Next Gen lounge where you can get great resources and meet new colleagues from across the country.
- EPIP will have a hosted suite in the conference hotel where you can relax with new friends and have some refreshments, instead of the normal evening conference activity of watching Discovery Channel alone in your hotel room.
- A Generational Leadership Program Facebook Group has been created. I will admit that I have already hooked my proverbial online social networking wagon to LinkedIn but if you are already Facebook proficient or can even handle more than one social networking site, I commend your multitasking skills and this Facebook group is meant for you.
- There are opportunities for you to blog about the programs at the COF conference for New Voices of Philanthropy and EPIPhanies. You can write about one session or ten to provide valuable information to our colleagues nationally and internationally who aren't able to attend the conference. Just contact me at tristaharris (at) gmail (dot) com to get set up.
- There will be Next Gen scholarships available to cover registration costs, which will bring many new philanthropy professionals to the conference that might not otherwise be able to attend.
- We will be one of the first groups to use the Gaylord Conference center, which is a beautiful new facility that many groups will be using for their conferences, so the next time you have something scheduled there you will already be an old pro.
- The biggest reason why I am so excited to go to the conference is because I will be able to meet many of this blog's readers for the first time in person. I think online communities are fabulous and I truly appreciate the great conversations that happen on this blog but there is nothing like meeting people face to face. So if you see me in the Next Gen lounge or if you come to the session where I am presenting, come say hi. I can't wait to meet you.
The Council on Foundations is hosting a mega philanthropy conference this spring that brings together three of its regular conferences (Community Foundation conference, family foundation conference, and its regular conference). The conference is May 4-7 in the Washington, DC area and a large focus of this conference will be next generation leadership. Emerging Practitioner in Philanthropy has been coordinating many of the planned programs including special salons with Foundation CEO's for emerging leaders, a whole track of programs, a reception, and a hosted Next Gen suite for more relaxed networking. Registration is now open, so bring the form to your boss and explain to them that an investment in your professional development is an investment in the future viability of the philanthropic field. But no pressure.
" The only problem with poor people is that they are poor."
I was excited, but not surprised when I saw one of my favorite people in the world as a featured speaker on TED Talks. Bill Strickland is the kind of visionary leader that I think all of us strive to be but the amazing thing about him is that his vision is so basic that it makes it seem downright crazy. Bill believes that by treating people with respect and kindness anyone can achieve great things. This means that by filling your community center with fresh flowers and gourmet food you will be able to teach an illiterate single mother how to be a pharmacy technician. It sounds crazy but he has done this and so much more for many, many years. I had the great privilege of visiting the Manchester Craftsman Guild (his nonprofit) during a Council on Foundations conference in Pittsburgh. I believe that visiting his center has changed the way that I approach program officer work and has made me encourage my grantees to reach so much higher than I ever would have in the past. Please take a half an hour to view his TED Talk, I promise it will be the most useful half an hour that you spend all week.
Stretch assignments aren't just for the office. Penelope Trunk from the Brazen Careerist has an interesting post about how your overall satisfaction with life is tied to how willing you to challenge yourself at home. If your routine is the same every night (fast food, 2 hours in front of the tv, and 3 hours surfing the internet aimlessly), how can you expect to be a challenge-taking go-getter at work? Mix up your routine just a little bit and you will be surprised at the results.
When I started working with an executive coach, my first painful realization was that I was terrible at delegation. I always thought I was great at delegating because I would fully think out an assignment, including all the steps that needed to be done to get the task accomplished, before I gave them to anyone and I would do it myself if I thought the person I was delegating to was too busy or would find the assignment too hard or too boring. My coach Antoine noticed that this was a pattern and asked me how I liked to receive delegated assignments and I told him I liked hard projects that challenged me and where I had the freedom to be creative with how the project was to be completed. Oh, *#@%&! That is the exact opposite of how I had been delegating. A word of warning if you ever decide to get a coach, they have a way a revealing your deepest imperfections and it really stinks. The upside is that you can learn to fix those flaws, so that's what I've been doing with the delegation issue. After a year of soul searching and practicing on EPIP committee members and our administrative staff has taught me a few lessons that I'll share with you:
Don't delegate what you can eliminate- Before you can effectively delegate, you need to be ruthless with your to do list. Don't give someone else busy work, make sure that you are delegating tasks that will help you complete projects that are important and make a difference to the success of your organization.
Delegate the objective, not how it is done- This one was a killer for me because I had an idea of how a project should move forward and I had the unconscious belief that my way was the only way. When I first started delegating projects without step by step instructions I was amazed at the final results that I got back. New perspectives solved problems that I didn't even know I had and people really shine when you don't hamstring them with a ton of directions.
Delegate authority, not just the work- When you give people the freedom to make decisions you eliminate the biggest bottleneck to getting work done, YOU. Be available for questions but help people get in the habit of coming to you with their recommendations. This moves things along faster because when someone has a question, they usually already have an answer in mind and it is usually better than what you would come up with on the fly, with incomplete information.
Delegate things that you are not good at, and don't want to be good at- Never delegate a task that could help you grow and a learn a new skill, unless it's a skill that you are not interested in having. I could learn to change my oil but it's not a skill that I want to develop, so I delegate it. If someone has a strength in Access or graph-making or statistics and you don't, by all means let them do it. These are things that take a lot of time to learn but can be done quickly by someone who has experience doing it. Save everyone some time and let it go.
Delegate things that you are good at- Sometimes when you are really good at doing something you have a hard time being satisfied with the final result. I am very good at researching program and demographic information on the web. The problem with this is that I am always after the "perfect" statistic that will help me make a case to my board. I'll keep searching until I find exactly what I am looking for, which could take forever. If I delegated that same task to someone else with a time frame, they will find a great quote that helps me build the case. Learn to let things be "good enough".
Delegation is good management practice- I have moved from a position where I was a manager to a foundation position where I don't manage people directly. Delegation is good practice to make sure that I don't lose important management skills. If you are at a small shop where you don't have anyone to delegate to, you can delegate in your volunteer activities or you can even delegate parts of your personal life. A great article about that is here. A few months ago I decided that I wanted to add more substantive content to New Voices but I also knew that with a demanding job and two young kids at home, I couldn't dedicate a lot more time to the blog. That's where Jasmine Hall Ratliff came in. Jasmine was an ABFE Fellow with me and when I sent out a blanket email to hire a researcher for New Voices she answered the call. Jasmine has been helping me do a ton of research that will soon add some great features to this blog, so stay tuned.
Do you have any delegation tips or resources that you use for delegation? One of my new favorites for very specific projects is Elance.
I am participating in the One Post Challenge over at Sean's blog Tactical Philanthropy. The one post challenge is an opportunity to generate new conversations about philanthropy and the blogger with the most comments wins a grant for the charity of their choice. If my post wins the grant will go to the Park Avenue Foundation. The Park Avenue Foundation is an amazing organization that provides kids with great opportunities to meet their full potential. I am always amazed when I first meet kids from their programs because they seem like your average overachievers (smart, funny, great community volunteers) but then you dig a little bit deeper under the surface you find out that they are dealing with issues that most adults couldn't handle like a parent in prison, not having enough food to eat, and the most unstable living situations that you can imagine. I wrote an article about the need for foundation staff to spend time in the community to ensure that they are connected to the community issues that they are making decisions about. Spending time with kids from Park reminds me of why I got into the nonprofit sector in the first place. I get to support organizations every day that help reach kids when they are the most vulnerable and also when they have the greatest opportunity to make positive changes that will make their lives forever better.
So get out there and leave a comment already and tell your networks to do the same. You have until the end of November to make sure that the future engineer that you see above will continue to have a soldering iron in her hand rather than a remote control.
I have talked about managing your professional identity before but I didn't realize that there is a whole industry built around this. Check out the Personal Branding Summit to listen to mp3 downloads from personal branding experts. Topics include how to create a personal brand, getting a headshot that matches the identity that you are trying to create, and how to manage your brand in an "always on" work environment. All of this may sound very self-centered and a little bit weird but their is always room for improvement with how we present ourselves professionally and these people think to think about it day and night.
I am participating in the one post challenge at Tactical Philanthropy. Part of my article for the challenge is below, read the rest at Tactical Philanthropy.
Today I am proposing nothing short of a revolution in the philanthropic field. What if foundations were connected to the communities that they were serving; innovation and creativity were encouraged; knowledge was shared within organizations and with the larger philanthropic and nonprofit sectors; and foundations were measured on the results of their investments, not just amount of money spent or number of staff? I know you are probably asking yourselves right now, “what kind of crazy alternative universe are you living in Trista Harris?”
I should probably back up. Any time you are proposing a revolution, it’s important to give proper background or else you scare people off. The philanthropic landscape is changing. Baby Boomers are beginning to retire or re-imagine their positions. Donors are more actively engaged and want measurable results, and the government is spending a lot of time and energy trying to reign in the philanthropic sector. Professional philanthropic staff are trying to figure out how to do more with less time. How do we re-invigorate our troops of professional do-gooders to make sure that are connected to the communities that they serve and have the capacity to move the philanthropic sector from potential to results?
Read the rest at Tactical Philanthropy.
Please add your own comment in the comment section of the Tactical Philanthropy blog, if you feel so moved. The blogger with the most comments wins a grant for their favorite nonprofit and I hope to raise support for the Park Avenue Foundation http://www.parkavefoundation.org/ , which provides after school programs for low-income kids in my neighborhood.
Leaders in philanthropy may experience job-life stress as they develop and grow their careers. As high-achievers, they are often hard on themselves--not always taking full satisfaction in their accomplishments, feeling frustrated by their career progress, or the way they manage their time and tasks. Sometimes they give away all their own time and energy for the mission of their organization or foundation and forget to refuel so they can continue making a contribution. They may buy into the myth that working in the not-for-profit world requires that they sacrifice work/life balance, adequate financial compensation, and being valued for their great work!
I speak from experience! I burned out after five years on a job that I loved, because I didn't build my own reserves, I viewed my work in terms of success or failure, and I failed to see what I could do to change things. I left the non-profit world knowing there had to be another option. I was determined to find it and help others stay in the game; maybe even begin to change the game. Coaching has given me the skills to support established and emerging leaders so they can continue to serve others, grow in their careers and personal lives, and even begin to change the way work works.
Along the way, I've helped leaders avoid or emerge from many of the pitfalls I experienced. Through the coaching process, clients develop increased confidence, lower stress levels, and learn to make better use of their time by identifying what is important for them to do and what can be delegated to others with additional talents and abilities. They have said that they are better communicators and have learned to ask for what they want. Many have learned to change their negative perceptions in order to break through barriers and accomplish more. They have also reported that they feel they have more balance and control in their lives, because they establish clearer limits and know where and how to create change.
Please visit my new website: www.cultivatingleaders.com, learn more about how coaching could benefit you, and contact me for a free introductory session. Most importantly, I hope you will make self-care a priority and keep doing great work for others!
One year ago I was selected as an Association of Black Foundation Executives Connecting Leaders Fellow. To say that my selection was a career defining moment, is an inadequate understatement. When I applied for the program I was aware that I would receive professional development, the support of a professional coach, and education on how to better serve the Black community through organized philanthropy. What I didn't realize at the time was that I was also going to receive a nearly limitless supply of seasoned mentors who had a vested interest in my success, as well as the "excuse" to dedicate time learning from those that have come before me in the philanthropic field. Too often in our careers we say that we don't have time for professional development. We'd love to call that person, whose career we've been admiring from afar, but are afraid they'll think we're weird. We'd like to do research on effective grantmaking strategies but it's outside of our current job description. A year of doing just that has shown me that a year is not enough. To be a truly effective grantmaker, you need to spend an entire career asking tough questions, learning from the successes and failures of other foundations, taking the time to really get to know your peers from other foundations, and to learn important lessons from those that are retiring out of the sector to ensure that their years of hard earned experience and wisdom do not leave the sector with them.
Take a few minutes today and think about what your ideal professional development program would look like. Would you travel to see other foundations in action, would you interview the best and brightest in the nonprofit sector to see why some organizations thrive and others do not, would you read about the early greats in philanthropy (Rockefeller and Carnegie) to figure out lessons their giving can teach us abut philanthropy today? Once you have those key components in your head, I challenge you to go out and do it. The only thing that is stopping you is you.