Do You Have a Calling?

From a great blog – Pursuit of Happiness by Gretchen Rubin – we want to share this very introspective read with you – http://gretchenrubin.com/happiness_project/2015/05/have-you-ever-felt-a-call-to-do-a-certain-kind-of-work/

Check out where the author draws your attention:

Have you felt the call to a vocation?

Is it the same as a “moment of obligation”?

Do you love the drudgery that comes with your calling? 

Challenge yourself to answer these questions. When do you hear the calling of working for social change? Was it always within you, or did you experience a moment you knew only you were the one to solve the crisis at hand?

 

 

Nonprofit Endings

 

 

Be Generous

During your career and performing admirably at the office, there is no better advice than to be generous with your time and talents in the nonprofit sector. Fast Company magazine published an outstanding two minute read on The Case for Being a Generous Leader last week, and it is well worth the read, even if you do not consider yourself a “leader”.

What I love most about the article is this simple quote:

Generous people, on the other hand, are genuinely happy. They aren’t constantly determining their self-worth by how far they are above others. They have a great day when they’ve had the chance to add value to others.

Obviously that resonates with those of us working in the nonprofit sector, and the folks behind Nonprofit Beginnings.

More importantly, even though you might be in job search mode, it should strike a chord with you as well. You do not have to be a leader of a Fortune 500 company, the Director of a nonprofit, or even managing people directly at your current position. YOU have an immense amount of compassion and skills to give to others, to lift them up in their own goals, and in turn grow your community through love.

 

-nickdico

 

…Without Joy In Work

“There can be no joy in living without joy in work.”

– St. Thomas Aquinas

This is a quote from one of my favorite inspirations for daily reflection from happiness muse Gretchen Rubin.

It has so much meaning in the work those in the nonprofit sector conduct on a daily basis. However, we often tend to forget at the end of the day, this is what truly matters in why we’ve chosen to make a living in social change and advocacy. Because the joy we bring to others is the joy we find in ourselves.

If you don’t have joy in your work, nonprofit or otherwise, then to be blunt, get out. Maybe not today maybe not tomorrow, but make plans to find your joy in work, and get to it.

Why Volunteer for a Year, When You Will Not Retire Until 73?

During my reading of the local Sunday paper this week, I came across two distinct articles penned directed at the millennial generation and it’s future.

Four ways millennials are still scarred from the recession (Bloomberg News)

Momentum builds for national service corps (News and Observer)

The articles were only separated by a page in my local paper, but without a doubt they should not be viewed in a vacuum.

First off I applaud the authors highlighting the work of the Franklin Project, in driving home a national narrative of public service engaging 1 million young millennials in a year of public service. Much like the AmeriCorps, the program would look for 18-24 year olds to volunteer through civic service in communities that need fresh energy.

However, let’s look at the current state of millennials engaged in public service. How many friends, or yourself, have completed AmeriCorps service maybe for 1 or more years, only to find getting work just as hard as before they served? The most popular discussion on LinkedIn for AmeriCorps Alums is folks looking to network for job leads (1300 comments in a few years). I also question the 4 in 5 voters that support this measure. It is probably the equivalent to generational NIMBY (not in my backyard).

Now let’s look at 2 scars for millennials from Bloomberg – 1) They will never make as much money  2) They’re drowning in student debt.

It may be an unpopular sentiment, but do not sign me up as a supporter of another service corps program without clear job training and pipelines for our generation or the one after ours. How can we rationalize promoting a year of low paying, if not no pay, public service to young people that will not retire until they are 73? That are burdened with $1.2 trillion of collective debt just from college loans? If every year of your earnings potential impacts you decades down the road, how can we be asking more from a generation we are already setting up to be financially worse off than their parents?

Let me know if I’m crazy in the comment section!

A New Beginning

Today marks the first day of a new side venture for myself – putting pen to internet and willingly offering any assistance to young folks everywhere trying to break into the nonprofit sector.

Everyone has a beginning to the story, but often we are more interested in how people are going to help us, and less how we can do to help them get to their goal. I have always loved taking an hour, grabbing coffee, and talking with a complete stranger about how to remove the curtain of the mythical nonprofit sector so they can find their dream job, make connections, or just get an outside opinion. So now, it is time for me to begin my journey as an adjunct life/nonprofit coach in the great teaching university that is our sector.

I hope to be of a small help in the journey of others. After all, if it wasn’t for Obi-Wan Kenobi, where would Luke Skywalker be? Now you just erase those prequels from your mind before you answer!

Cheers, and thanks for coming along for the ride,

Nick

Chief Passion Officer

Why the Kickstarter Reading Rainbow Debate Should Alarm Every Nonprofit

If you haven’t heard by now, Reading Rainbow is back! Or at least it is being resurrected from owner (and its embodiment in human form) LeVar Burton in a new online platform via a Kickstarter campaign from two days ago, May 27th. In it’s new version, Reading Rainbow wants to reach “every child, everywhere” via a web based browser, school programs, and mobile app devices. As of this writing it has eclipsed it’s $1 million mark like me over some delicious tater tots and has hit $2.3 million. 

Now today, the Washington Post’s Caitlin Dewey wrote a piece about why people should “re-think” contributing to this cause, for various alarming reasons. I read them. I disagree with almost all of her points. And now I realized there is a greater idea at stake than literacy for children based on her opinions and ideas of how the world views social change and nonprofits. We might be losing the war for societal change in the minds of Americans before we can reach their hearts. 

(points made by Dewey, followed by my rebuttal/alarm)

Point 1 –

“If Reading Rainbow is so epically popular, then why was the show cancelled to begin with? And now that it’s coming back — as a for-profit companynot a charity — is it really the best vehicle for teaching literacy to “millions of children”?”

So according to our author, the only way a person can enact change and be legitimate about it, is to start a nonprofit and take no money for it. Once again, the old narrative of nonprofits actually being compensated, their employees being rewarded for hard work with pay (not smiles), rears its ugly head in this quick off hand comment. Also, lets not forget B Companies, like Burt’s Bees, who have a bottom line of social change through their work not just profit. 

What also is alarming is first, that social change ideas ARE ONLY FOR nonprofits and people who do charity. And secondly, for-profits please just make everyone money nonprofits or social change ideas could not generate profit or even pay employees decently. Do we realize the ramifications if the world started believing only charities could do social change? And you think nonprofits have it tough now convincing people to help. Ha. 

Point 2 – 

“In other words, when Reading Rainbow began in 1983, the big question was, “how do we get kids interested in reading?” By 2009, that question had become, “how do we teach kids to read, period?”

Unfortunately, it’s unclear how the new, digital Reading Rainbow will address that disparity — if it chooses to at all.”

What is alarming here is that there is apparently only one solution to any pressing societal issue – which if agreed upon by the average American, shows how little the work of nonprofits working together has come to bite us all. If there was one magical answer to literacy, drop outs, drug use, homelessness – then we should all just be working towards that solution. By working so hard against each other in the narratives of solutions, we have overlooked this one account – what if only one solution is chosen? I would challenge everyone to see the world in that black and white when it comes to impacting the lives of people. 

Point 3 – 

“Crowdfunding is theoretically supposed to bolster charities, start-ups, independent artists, small-business owners  and other projects that actually need the financial support of the masses to succeed. It’s not supposed to be co-opted by companies with profit motives and private investors of their own … which, despite Burton’s charisma, is exactly what the Rainbow reboot is.”

This is only alarming by the author’s rationale that companies should not use Kickstarter, which goes back to point one, where companies are/should only be focused on profit. Sure Reading Rainbow is now an LLC, and should just make profit by selling all their wares with private investment. How better to include people who cannot get on the Dow or NASDAQ to support this grassroots efforts to have a company driven by social change?

Point 4 –

“But if you’re donating to Reading Rainbow because of the grandiose charity rhetoric Burton’s employing on Kickstarter, you might want to look elsewhere — maybe the nonprofit Children’s Literacy Initiative or the Washington, D.C.-based First Book, both of which get high grades from Charity Navigator. They might not have LeVar’s nostalgia appeal, but there’s no doubt who those charities serve.”

The worst point. Our pie is finite, thus your choices are. It is a false choice. Nonprofits need to break the narrative and mindset that the pie is and always will be one size, otherwise it never will. Then these statements will no longer be valid, nor hold merit. 

And I practice what I preach. I regularly donate to First Book (a great organization I have had the pleasure of working with) and donated to the Reading Rainbow campaign. Lead by example.