Tag Archive: nonprofit


Before leaving Crisis Nursery, my job was announced.  The announcement was placed on Crisis Nursery’s website, two local job banks and promoted through Twitter.  Within a week and a half, over 90 people had applied to be the next Communications and Marketing Manager for Crisis Nursery.

The candidates ranged from new graduates, nonprofit professionals and individuals who had extensive experience managing large corporate communications or marketing departments. Obviously there is no shortage of qualified individuals.  My supervisor was impressed by the people who applied. Many people have the skill sets to do my job and some of the people have exceptional experience to do the job maybe even better than me.  There’s no doubt that people with skills are out there, but I believe that the three determining factors for the candidate who gets my job are these: 1) a basic understanding of Crisis Nursery and it’s mission; 2) a passion for working with vulnerable populations; and 3) a good fit for the department and organization. 

During these difficult economic times, people are looking for work and considering work in different industries.  I’m amazed at the amount people switching from corporate careers to nonprofit.  I can pretty much say that I am a nonprofit “lifer.”  I can’t imagine working anywhere, but nonprofit.  I’m not going to count out working in other industries, but I love knowing I belong to a career that makes a difference.  Additionally, nonprofit work is never mundane.  Whether it’s working with difficult issues or people or trying to figure out how to fundraise to keep the lights on and the doors open, it’s a challenge and I LOVE IT.

If you are considering a career in nonprofit out of necessity (you will take whatever pays money) or because it’s your heart’s desire, remember there’s more to it than a paycheck.  When you work for a nonprofit, you work for children, men, women and communities who need your services.  Your job is more than just about you. 

With that being said, if you want to truly consider working for a nonprofit, figure out what causes your passionate about and apply for positions at nonprofits whose missions aligns with your interest.  There are many nonprofits to choose from–arts, children, health, community, elderly, education, drug prevention, schools, universities, faith-based and the list goes on and on. 

In your cover letter state why you want to work for these nonprofits. If you have a short personal story of how the nonprofit impacted your life or the life of someone you know, share it.  Getting a job in nonprofit is not just having the skills to do the job.  It’s apparent there are many people out there with skills. But what will set you above the rest is to demonstrate your understanding of the nonprofit, why their work is important and why it’s important to you.

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I have the unique situation of being  both a volunteer and working for nonprofits who utilize volunteers. 

Volunteers are an essential resource for nonprofit organizations.  Volunteer opportunities are also a great way to engage the community and with their help, work to achieve the organization’s mission.  Additionally, when there’s a lack of resources, volunteers help to fill a need. 

Volunteers can be a great help, but they can also be a huge headache for an organizaton.  While many nonprofits appreciate people willing to give of their time, it doesn’t always mean they are always the right fit .  Throughout my nonprofit career, I’ve worked with volunteers who have been a great help, but I’ve also worked with volunteers who have run amok.  It’s critical for nonprofits to capitalize on utilizing volunteers, but people have to realize the relationship needs to be mutual. 

As a volunteer, I value when nonprofits recognize my work and truly listen to my feedback.  The expectation when I give feedback is that my opinions and comments are genuinely being heard.  BUT…they can choose to take my suggestions into consideration or leave it.  I understand that as a volunteer I’m there to help them with their needs.  Yes, I might have suggestions, but they are just that.  Volunteers have to realize that they don’t know the internal processes and why decisions are made.  Policies and processes have been put in place for a reason and as volunteers we need to respect that.

With that being said, I’ve worked with volunteers who do not feel the same way I do.  I think some volunteers feel that if they give of their time they are entitled to make decisions about the programs or nonprofits they volunteer for.  Some go a step further and take it upon themselves to break policies because they think their way is the right way.  Some organizations invest a lot of time and effort in training volunteers on how the organization provides care and services.  If you are going to volunteer, please follow the organization’s policies and procedures and utilize their methods.  It’s there for the protection of you and the people they work with.

Volunteers  are there to fill a need.  If you have a suggestion, feel free to express it, but don’t demand change.  If you feel your not being heard, don’t feel ashamed about leaving an organization.  You may not be a good fit for the organization and the organization may not be a good fit for you.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  But remember if you are going to leave, please provide feedback on why you are leaving. And nonprofits, don’t take offense to that feedback.  Learn from it.

Earlier this week, I was part of a panel who presented to the Phoenix Nonprofit Professionals Network.  This group meets the 1st Monday of every month to network, share industry best practices, and support each other in their professional growth and development.  The group chooses the topics for each meeting.  April’s topic was “Special Events:  The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. 

I, along with Dianne Rohkohl of Raw Cabbage Design and Robyn Broshears of Auction & Event Solutions, spoke about our experiences with special events.  We took full advantage of the 2 hours and our conversations continued even after the event ended.  For my portion of the presentation, I gave the group a handout of My Top Ten Tips for event planning. 

Special Event Planning
Ten Tips For You!

Special Events can be a great way to engage new supporters and donors; however, events can require a lot of time and planning.  Here are ten tips to help guide you as your plan your next special event.

1. Make sure you have the capacity to plan special events.

It’s important for a nonprofit to make sure they are ready to plan a special event.  Ask yourself some of these questions. 

a. Are special events part of your overall fundraising plan?

It is critical for nonprofits to plan all their fundraising strategies. Special events is just one strategy.  By looking at everything you do, you can determine (given your resources) if special events are a viable option for your organization.

b. Does your Board of Directors support your idea of a special event?

You may have the freedom to plan events; however, it maybe easier to plan your event with your board whole-heartedly supporting it.  Also, your board may help connect you to potential sponsors or underwriters.

c. Who will be involved in planning your event?

Having a ready and willing group will help you tremendously.  The key word is “willing” and communication is important as well.

d. Is special events part of your overall budget?

Funding set aside for your event is nice, but not essential.  It makes planning a lot easier.   

2. Always remember your mission when planning a special event.  

Incorporate your mission at every opportunity.  Some people plan events just for the “fun” factor.  Yes, an entertaining event is important, but remember you have a captive audience.  People are going to your event because they care about your mission.  Use the time you have with them to educate them on what you do and why your nonprofit is important.

3. With your committee, develop a written plan of action and delegate responsibilities.  Additional tip:  double-up on responsibilities.  Helps to keep people accountable and if someone is unable to follow through with their job, there’s back-up.

Your plan of action should include action items, deadlines, who is going to do what and budget.  Writing it down is important so your committee understands what needs to get done and by when so you can all stay on track.  Also, it’s good to have someone who is highly organized to remind people of deadlines. 

4. Utilize consultants when necessary, but remember you get what you pay for.

Consultants can be very helpful.  You can either pay for a consultant or they could volunteer.  Remember:  Volunteers come and go.  Life gets in the way and they have to tend to that.  If a consultant volunteers their time, be aware that they may not always follow through. 

Message to consultant who volunteer:  Treat pro-bono work like you are getting paid.  Follow through on what you say and if you have to leave a project, help to secure a back-up.  Remember your reputation is on the line and people are counting you.

5. Approach businesses and media as partners. 

Never ask for something without providing value in return. State specifically that you’re looking to partner with them.

6. If you are looking for media to help promote your event, plan to contact them 4-6 weeks prior to your event.

Most importantly, develop a PR schedule if you plan to contact the media.  The media can be very useful in promoting your event, but it requires you to plan who you are going to approach and how you do it.

7. Utilize your website and social media to help spread the word about your event.

Social media can be very helpful in promoting your event.  It’s a quick and free way to get the word out.  Post releases on your website and link it to your posts.  After the reader is done with the release they can peruse your website.

8. Don’t forget to say “Thank You”

Always, always, ALWAYS thank your underwriters, sponsors, partners and volunteers.  Thank you’s range from a simple card to a gift or an acknowledgement in a press release or ad in a local publication.

9. Check out other special events.  It’s a great way to pick up tips and potential sponsors for your events.

You can pick up great tips just from attending events.  Also, take a look at the sponsorship lists.  If you see a trend amongst companies who sponsor events, these might be good potential sponsors for your event.

10. Remember…Proper planning will alleviate any headaches and help you to enjoy and grow your special event. 

 

As many of you know, I’m a very social person.  I love meeting new people.  I love gatherings.  And I love organizing events.  So where did my social nature come from? 

Maybe it’s due to being  part of a large Filipino family and my social nature is in my blood.  As some of you know, I grew up in the Midwest with no immediate family around. So where does the large family part come in?  Okay, let me give you some background information and I’ll get to it in a round about way. My dad joined the Marines while the US had occupied the Philippines.  When he finished his tour, my parents came to America and ended up in South Carolina.  They decided that they wanted to be closer to family so they decided to drive to California where we had family.  At that time, my mom was pregnant with me.  They decided to stop in St. Louis to rest.  My mom was so tired of driving she asked (my dad said she more like whined)  if they could just stay in St. Louis.  Well, they never made it to California and still live in St. Louis (32 years to date to be exact).   When my parents came to St. Louis, they knew no one, but by nature my parents are social.  They created their own family of friends in St. Louis. My parents grew up in the Philippines with frequent large family gatherings.  They continued this tradition with their friends or what we called our “adopted” family.  Growing up, I remember every holiday or special event was celebrated with a party or potluck of friends.  Eat, drink and be merry was our philosophy and that’s what I continue on to this day. 

Maybe my social nature comes from being a Gemini.  This “airy” sign (keep airhead jokes to yourself) are known to be social butterflies.  Communication and interaction are fundamental to Geminis.  To learn the ins and outs of what makes a Gemini click, take a look at this synopsis at http://astrologyindepth.com/Gemini But bottom line, Geminis love people and interacting with them. 

Regardless of whether being social is in my genes or in my stars, it’s who I am.  And that’s why  I’ve been adept to organizing special events and love doing it.  Whether it’s organizing golf tournaments, CEUs programs for doctors, luncheon fundraisers attended by over 700 people, networking happy hours or an intimate cocktail party geared towards major donors, I enjoy it all.  Over the years, I’ve worked on many different types of special events and I’ve gained a lot of insight on how to plan successful special events.  On Monday, April 5th The Phoenix Nonprofit Professionals Meetup is allowing me to share some of my insights.  I will be joined by Dianne Rohkohl of Raw Cabbage Design and Robyn Broshears of Auction Events & Solutions to impart some helpful special event planning tips.   I’ve worked with both these ladies on different events for Crisis Nursery and I know you will leave the meeting with great nitty-gritty tips to apply to your special events.  The meeting is open to everyone, so please come out.

I think I’ve kept everyone in suspense long enough. 

Drum Roll…PLEASE!

Today, I formally submitted my resignation as Communications and Marketing Manager at Crisis Nursery, Inc.  My last day will be April 14th.  On April 19th, I will start a new venture in my life and I’ve accepted the new Director of Fund Development  position for Central Arizona Shelter Services.

Crisis Nursery has been a big part of my life since I’ve moved to Arizona over four years ago.  I consider my co-workers as my family away from home and I appreciate each and every one of them.  It’s hard to leave them, but I know this is an opportunity I can’t pass up.  I am very excited for this new opportunity and I’m ready for this challenge.

I’m sad to leave my co-workers and friends at Crisis Nursery, but I will keep in touch (whether I like it or not).  My supervisor has locked into a 12 top table for their 7th Annual Breaking the Cycle Luncheon.  So if anyone is interested in attending the luncheon, please let me know.  I have space available at my table.  Seriously! The 7th Annual Breaking the Cycle Luncheon, is on October 19th, Camelback Inn at noon, RSVP with me 🙂

You can expect more blogs about my new endeavors; however, now it’s time to celebrate.  In the next couple of weeks there will be series of Happy Hours.  I’ll keep you posted. So please come out and help me celebrate. 

Woohoo!!

Tonight I had the opportunity to network with a wonderful group of female attorneys from Snell & Wilmer and their clients.  Every year, this prestigious law firm hosts a Women’s Networking Event.  Last year, they hosted a fabulous evening at the Phoenix Botanical Gardens with free admission to see the Chihuly Exhibit.  Tonight the event was at the Phoenix Art Museum and it featured the Ansel Adams collection.

Many believe networking is for people in sales or for those who love to be social; however, there so many benefits that are not always apparent to the nonprofit professional.  Yes, it can be fun.  And yes it can be exhausting at times, but it’s well worth the effort.  I’ve grown both professionally and personally through the people I’ve met because I’ve actively gone out and networked.  For me, networking is essential to my success. 

As a nonprofit professional, it’s difficult to strictly find networking events geared towards nonprofit.  Networking amongst nonprofit professionals normally happens at conferences and seminars.  Luckily a lot of nonprofit events in the Valley allow time for people to network.   ASU Lodestar Center for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Innovation and The Phoenix Business Journal through their Nonprofit Business Summit are great opportunities to meet nonprofit professionals at different stages in their careers. A nonprofit professional can also choose to join associations or networks.  Two that I belong to are YNPN Phoenix (Young Nonprofit Professionals Network) and the Nonprofit Professionals Meet-Up.

Even though I’m in nonprofit, I do not limit my networking opportunities to strictly nonprofit events and associations.  Networkingphx.com has a great calendar of events.  If you chose to, you could go to an event (or multiple events) every day of the week. Sometimes just looking at the calendar can be overwhelming, but it is also nice to see that there are so many opportunities to networking.  Over the years, I’ve developed an eye for great networking opportunities throughout the Valley.

Snell & Wilmer Women’s Networking Event is tops on my list.  I love the idea of having events at arts and cultural venues.  I’ve wanted to go to the Phoenix Art Museum for a long time.  I saw this as a perfect opportunity to go. This also gave me the opportunity to talk to this group of women about my work with children at risk of abuse and neglect.  This is a great group for potential supporters and donors.

The Phoenix Business Journal also has great events.  Their monthly BizMix events are always popular and some of them even include giving back to the community.  Another event of the Phoenix Business Journal that I always look forward to is their Book of Lists Party.  The venue for this event is always unique.  Last year, it was held at the Fifth Avenue & Madison Event Center.  For the most part, it looks like an empty warehouse, but it’s a great location to host an elegant event.  The Phoenix Business Journal did an awesome job converting it to their “Route 66” Theme. 

For many of these events, people who attend are professionals from different industries, but for the most part, its geared towards the business community.  As a fundraiser, I find these events perfect opportunities to meet supporters and potential donors.  Many times I’m the only nonprofit professional attending the event.  Bottomline:  If you are a nonprofit who needs funding, go to where there’s money :).

I am not overly outgoing and sometimes I don’t break out of my shyness until I have at least a glass of wine, but I know that networking is important in my ability to do my job and to be successful at it.  Personally, networking has opened many doors for me and I know it can be beneficial for others.  You may not need it for your job, but you never know who you will meet.  You may meet the person who might be your ticket to your next job or can connect you to your next professional endeavor.  So my advice, put yourself out there and network.  There are many opportunities and you won’t regret it 🙂

P.S.:  I need one more day to unveil my announcement.  Please check in tomorrow.  The suspense is killing you…right??

Tonight, I turned on the television and the first thing that popped up was the movie “Legally Blond.”  I have a confession.  I love this movie.  Every time it’s on I have to watch it.  There’s a scene in the movie where Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) is saying good-bye to her manicurist (aka Stifler’s mom).  She decided to quit  Harvard Law School and head back to California after the lead lawyer at her internship hit on her.  Elle believed that after that incident no one, not even her ex-boyfriend or family, ever took her seriously. 

Oddly, I relate to Elle Woods.  I’m not a skinny, blonde Valley girl from California who got into Hardvard Law.  Actually, I’m the complete opposite.  But like Elle, I feel that I’m constantly having to prove myself.  At 31, I look and sound young.   Professionally, it’s been a challenge for people to take me seriously.  Even though I have a Masters in Social Work and years of experience in nonprofit work, I find myself fighting for people to admit, “Yes that girl knows what she’s talking about.”  

I remember at a previous job, my supervisor announced to the Board that I would be touring a major foundation.  At that point, I was with the  organization for ten months.  I wrote and submitted a grant request to this foundation for funding.  One of our Board Members who is very influential in our community and a generous philanthropist herself took my supervisor aside to voice her concerns about having me do the tour.  I remember I passed by them and overheard her say, “Is that young girl going to do the tour? I think someone else needs to do it.”  Luckily, my supervisor was confident in my skills and reassured her that I would do a good job. We ended up receiving the full amount of our grant request.

To this day, I continue to have to prove myself as a professional.  I’ve never had it easy.  My current supervisor is someone I look up to and value her advice and feedback.  She told me that I need to be aware that people view me as young and as a novice. No matter how old I am and what it says on my resume, when people meet me for the first time the first thing that pops into their head is “she’s young.”  My supervisor told to be aware of the fact that there’s not much that I can do about it, but to accept it and work through it. 

Despite the challenges I face in my professional career, I know that looking young is not a bad thing.  I love the fact that I still get carded to buy alcohol.  I will appreciate it even more when I’m 40 and still getting carded  (I hope that is still true in 9 years).   It’s also nice to hear people tell me they thought I was barely 21 after carding me to go into a bar or nightclub.  I was even a bit flattered, but mostly creeped out, when a high school student hit on me at the gym this evening.  All in all, having a babyface has it’s advantages and disadvantages.  I just hope that as I get older it gets easier in my professional career.  At this rate, if I keep working as hard as I do to get people to take me seriously, I might find myself aging at a much faster rate.  And do I really want that??  I don’t think so!