advice

Walking the tight rope: finding work-life balance in the nonprofit sector

posted by
Laci Lester
Public Allies Arizona
former Program Manager,
ASU Lodestar Center

There are people who think of work-life balance in a Utopian way — where work and life responsibilities are lines in the Zen garden of life. When those same people realize how fictionalized that image is, they often give up on the daydream and get back into the thick of their work. But it doesn't have to be this way!

In Spring 2010, I administered an informal survey as part of a Public Allies independent study project. I asked nonprofit professionals about their views on work-life balance and how it effects their day-to-day lives. I have to say, the results were pretty fascinating.

People responded in every way possible. Some outright claimed that their organizations hinged on staff being overworked and underpaid. Some acknowledged their efforts to make balance more a part of their supervision style. Others responded that balance is dependent on very personal practices.

So, how can nonprofit professionals realistically tackle work-life balance? Ultimately, it's a tight rope act. And, by thinking this way, we can begin to gain some much-needed perspective:

A strong foundation and set-up is crucial.

Nonprofit leadership has gone by the wayside — How to create a future of strong, capable leaders

posted by
Robert F. Long, Ph.D.,
Senior Fellow
ASU Lodestar Center

There is no leadership, as typically defined, today! The models, theories, and approaches to leadership that have been espoused over the past 100 years have steadily lost effectiveness around the globe. While many will suggest that the traditional frameworks for leadership have never worked, I only suggest here that they no longer work for the changing contexts in which people find themselves. The failures of leadership are found at every turn — from the need for attention of those who aspire to lead to the need to control those who do take the lead.

The "great man theory," among others, is irrelevant in modern context. So, for purposes of this post, let's focus on what leaders should and shouldn't do. I will leave it to you to see the differences in those who you've identified as leaders. Let's talk about what the world needs of future leaders.

Leaders should listen — not talk. They should ask questions and listen all the way to the end of what others have to say. They shouldn't have "the" answers and be valued for being "right." Instead, leaders should have the capacity to discover great answers and amazing ideas. They should also be skilled at helping those ideas become a reality.

When Documenting Your Best Efforts Is No Longer Enough: Stakeholder Involvement in Results-Oriented Program Evaluation

posted by
B. J. Tatro, Ph.D.,

   ASU Lodestar Center
NMI Instructor /
B. J. Tatro Consulting

You meticulously record what you do. You report on exactly how many people you served, where, when, and how. In the past, this might have been adequate, but no more. Today, nonprofit organizations need to be able to show the results of their efforts. And the demand for accountability isn't just coming from funders either. Board members, consumers, community members, and staff alike want to know if the services provided are making a difference and if the results really outweigh the costs.

So, how do you move beyond reporting on activities and outputs? How do you project short and long-term outcomes that are realistic, important, and feasible to measure?

The answer is not "let the grant writer do it!"

The most effective method for doing this, in my experience, is to work collaboratively with key stakeholders, including those who will be involved in and impacted by the program. Ask them what they hope and expect will be different as a result of implementing the program, and how they would know success if they saw it. (In fact, this step should really precede design of the program.)

Making the Play: Successfully Engaging Youth Within the Nonprofit Sector

posted by
David "DJ" Heyward,

American Humanics Student /
Team M'Phasis Coach

Many of us in the nonprofit sector work specifically with children and young adults. It can be a big challenge, but also, I'm sure we can agree, exceedingly rewarding.

For the past four years, I have had the privilege of working with Team M'Phasis, where I get to watch young boys turn into capable, determined young men. This organization uses sports, specifically basketball, as a vehicle to help youth get motivated in school and learn life lessons while at the same time producing some seriously great athletes.

Whether you work with young volunteers or interns, or if your organization focuses specifically on children's services, I've learned a few key points that have helped me make strong connections with kids during my time with Team M'Phasis. Below are a few of those take-aways to help you and your organization get the most out of working with youth.

Develop Their Court Vision

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