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A compelling risk

publication date: Jul 18, 2013
author/source: Christina Hemens

There are moments when we are compelled to make a difference and help create change. Then there are other times when our compulsions scare us or seem too risky, so we ignore them. I want to take a look at why we are scared to follow our compulsions in the nonprofit world.Christina Hemens photo

Let’s start with the organization where you work or volunteer. Someone founded the organization it when they had a moment of compulsion. Tony Myers explains that “every nonprofit has a founder whose moment of compulsion led them to want to do something, to change something. And from that desire the organization was created.”

Where you work today wouldn’t exist without compulsion. Didn’t we agree in Introducing YOUR (me)volution that the work you do is important? Your work creates a positive impact on your community. Why, then are we scared to act on our compulsion?

Compelled to change the conversation

In 2008 Dan Pallotta wrote Uncharitable: How Restraints on Nonprofits Undermine Their Potential. If you haven’t read the book, don’t fret. His main ideas were shared in his TED talk: The way we think about charity is dead wrong. Did watching that video change the way you propose, work and execute in your organization?

I know I felt a moment of “Wow, he nailed it!” Since then my perspective about how nonprofits raise money has changed. Dan Pallotta had a moment of compulsion that the way we speak about nonprofits isn’t right. He acted on it and for the past five years has changed the conversation about nonprofit business.

The first step of (me)volution’s model is compulsion. (me)volution shares stories of regular people acting on their compulsions. Your innate being is telling you that it is worthwhile. You wouldn’t be feeling it if it wasn’t important. This first step of the model is intrinsically personal. It happens only to you.

When nudged, act

Don’t be scared of your compulsion. Decide that it is worthwhile. Decide that it can be the difference. Decide that you can be the change. Kaitlin Nelson is currently working for The Mustard Seed in Calgary, Alberta as the annual giving intern. She explained her compulsion to work in the nonprofit industry; “I feel so strongly that our mere existence is something of a miracle! Big and small, there are things that nudge us toward that reality until we can do nothing else but lend a hand, a dollar, and compel our hearts to experience the hope that always exists.”

Kaitlin is a special being, just like you. She didn’t shy away from her compulsion, her nudge. Rather, she allowed it to direct her career and passions.

Listen to your team’s compulsions

This step of (me)volution is what ignites us to work in nonprofits; it is the passion behind our cause. But we all have different passions. As an employer, this step of (me)volution can be used as an employee retention tool. Create a space, time and coaching session for your staff’s other passions and compulsions.

Now I know what you’re thinking. “Why would I direct their attention to other interests?” Because it allows people to grow in their creativity and critical thinking skills!

For an employer to show an interest in their employees’ other nonprofit passions creates trust and loyalty. After such a session you might consider providing your employees with volunteer opportunities to further develop their passions, maybe even give them a half-day off every month to do so. Then watch your employees remain passionate and compelled about your organization’s mission. Why? Because you believed in their abilities to change the world in any way they thought possible.

Now it is time to allow your compulsions, big and small, to spark a fire. This first step of (me)volution begins your personal journey in philanthropy and change. Next week, read about how to commit to your compulsion and help it grow into a movement.

Connect with the (me)volution community through Facebook, Twitter, or their blog.

Christina Hemens was drawn to philanthropy while growing up in Muskoka, Ontario. At Concordia University in Montreal, she honed her philanthropic spirit and passion for fundraising. After completing her post-graduate certification in Fundraising and Volunteer Management from Humber College she is now Marketing and Communications Coordinator at (me)volution, where she is able to create a positive difference in her lifetime.

Contact her through @ChristinaHemens or by email.

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