The Happy, Healthy Nonprofit is Coming!

I attended the Alliance for Nonprofit Management conference in Portland, OR at the beginning of October.  It was my first exposure to the organization, and my intentions were to make some new friends and contacts, learn something, and see some of Portland.  I'm happy to report that I was able to attain all of my goals (special shout-out to the incredible food trucks of Portland!). The highlight of the conference for me was a keynote presentation by Beth Kanter, an amazing thought leader and author of the award-winning Networked Nonprofit books.  I have seen Beth speak several times, and she never disappoints. Her stated topic was, “The Nonprofit Work Ethic Reinvented in An Age of Hyper Connectivity: Strategies for Impact Without Burnout," which included a preview of her next book, The Happy, Healthy Nonprofit, which she is writing with social media guru Aliza Sherman.  This power duo is taking on the challenges that nonprofits and the people who love them face regarding organizational culture and personal habits for sustainable impact.

Many nonprofits operate with a "scarcity mindset": everyone feels compelled to work long hours with limited resources and without encouragement or investment in self-care (sound familiar?). This work ethic is not only outdated, it's not sustainable. It leads to burnout and dissatisfaction and turnover and so many other not-great things. But what if things were different? What if nonprofits took a more people-focused approach to how they do their work? What if there was a culture of replenishment and abundance?

As social media has taken hold in the nonprofit sector, the constant need to be "connected" is contributing to the feelings of being overworked and overwhelmed that are so common. While being connected can help nonprofits engage with practically anyone to achieve their goals, there are human limits and costs to connectivity. Beth and Aliza's book promises to address these challenges and set us on a course of renewal that can lead to even more productivity and impact for all.

I'm really looking forward to it! Check out Beth's blog where you can also see the beautiful graphic illustration that was  done at the Alliance conference during her presentation.



How to Live a Happier Life

"If you think money can't buy happiness, try giving some away and see what happens." -Michael Norton Harvard Business School professor Michael Norton studies the relationship between money and happiness, and he has some interesting observations about it:

The individuals he studies do not report being happier after spending money on themselves, but they do report significantly higher levels of happiness when they spend money on others.

We can translate this phenomenon among individuals to corporate philanthropy as well.  Employees who have a role in determining where their company's philanthropic dollars are directed report higher levels of satisfaction with their work,  and are more loyal to the company.

In addition, when shoppers are given the ability to direct donations through their in-store actions, it creates  stronger consumer loyalty and can drive repeat business.

Bottom line: corporate philanthropy programs that engage employees in decision-making and allow for something other than a lump-sum donation to an organization or two can be successful not only in spreading the wealth, but in spreading the happiness.

Keep giving and keep smiling!