If there is one thing I've embraced as a nonprofit leader, it's what I'll call community exposure.
What I see is that 9 out of 10 nonprofit leaders are hiding. Executive Directors in particular.
It's possible you've decided you're too busy, or you've decided community exposure isn't for you.
You could be doing the most wonderful work, and nobody knows about it... so nobody gives.
And then you wonder why the coffers dried up. It's not a mystery.
Here is the strategy you need to connect to your community
Go out and make yourself known. Glitz and glamour aren’t a prerequisite for valuable connections. Instead, go where lots of people and conversations exist. Free events are as valuable as events that cost a couple hundred dollars.
Get comfortable going alone. It's even better when you know nothing about where you are or what the event is. Don't go in looking for the familiar face. Go in to meet strangers.
Open your eyes, your ears, and your mind. Your organization benefits from all ages. Most leaders focus on one segment. Some chase the older folks because they have wealth and assets. Others chase the 19-year-olds with tech skills. Stereotyping is how you miss out on talent, resources, and opportunities.
Be consistent. Every time you speak, deliver on that promise. Show up as a person who walks the talk of "can do." Build that confidence in people around you.
Play the long game. Nothing happens overnight. Your reputation is built over time. It's not something you decide. The community decides according to how you live your leadership.
Stay the course. You will have successes and failures. The trick is to keep going. The community wants to know that starting over is okay. Model that.
Rest rather than stop. There's not a beginning of the year or an end of the year. Slow down when you need to, but don't hit the brakes.
Wherever you go, pack your message. You show up as an individual, and you represent a nonprofit or a charity. Speak eagerly and enthusiastically about it. Don't talk about your grandchildren or your last vacation. You represent your work, and you need to get it in people's heads. THAT is what nonprofit leadership in your community looks like.
Sheree Allison merges the worlds of fundraising, marketing, and leadership combined with an entrepreneurial spirit to train and develop nonprofit leaders who are committed to building a world class organization. Connect and learn more about her "rags to riches" nonprofit success story, her book, and her weekly column at www.shereeallison.com.