Betsy has more than twenty years of experience in technology, nonprofit advocacy, and information systems development. She leads the account management team in Convio's Washington, DC office and is managing the migration program to move clients from the GetActive to Convio platforms. Previously, she was a senior account manager assisting some of the largest GetActive platform clients. Before joining Convio, for ten years Betsy served at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force creating and leading numerous grassroots initiatives to serve the progressive LGBT political movement. Prior to joining the Task Force, Betsy worked at Cincinnati Bell as a systems analyst, architect, and large systems development project manager. She holds a BS in Computer Information Systems from East Tennessee State University.
The Humane Society of the United States is no stranger to cutting edge advocacy campaigns and they’ve got another winner on their hands right now. HSUS has just launched “Seriously, Canada?”, a campaign to call on the Canadian government to end the seal hunt. If you’re not familiar with the seal hunt, each year Canada allows the hunting of baby seals to reduce the population. This year, the thinning sea ice is already causing a reduced seal population but the government is still allowing the seal slaughter.
This is where our friends as HSUS have created a compelling campaign worthy of the viral traffic it’s getting. While taking the pledge for Seriously, Canada?, commit what action you’ll take if Canada ends the hunt – such as buy a lifetime supply of maple syrup, book a romantic getaway to Niagara Falls, eat Candian seafood , or if you’re really committed shave a maple leaf into your head.
The finish page of the campaign shows a scrolling list of campaign participants and the actions they’ve chosen to take. You’ll also receive a thank you note that allows you to update your Facebook status or Tweet your specific pledge. Also, there’s a link to the HSUS store where you can purchase a tshirt or mug sporting the specific action you chose to take. If you’re not into any of those options, you can type up one of your own. The only drawback to the campaign is that I had to take off my maple leaf Olympic mittens to participate!
Earlier this month, we saw the release of a new report "Ready to Lead?", an enlightening survey of the next generation of would-be nonprofit leaders by The Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Meyer Foundation, Idealist.org, and CompassPoint Nonprofit Services. For those of us who believe that strong leaders are the backbone of strong and successful organizations, the report has some troubling warnings along with some hopeful signs.
It concluded that while there is a diverse and committed next generation of nonprofit leaders waiting in the wings, there are roadblocks to their wanting to make the leap into the highest levels of nonprofit service. Commonly cited barriers include a lack of mentorship from existing executives, overwhelming fundraising responsibilities, lack of a real work-life balance, and insufficient life-long earning potential. This comes on the heels of a 2006 study that showed three out of four executive directors planned to leave their jobs within the next five years because of burnout, inadequate compensation, and overwhelming responsibilities for fundraising.
Hmmm... sound familiar? Our nonprofit leaders of both today and tomorrow, despite their vision, vigor, and values are daunted by the challenges of personal finances, fundraising, and family obligations.
As organizations face financial hardships or seek to drive all "overhead" out of their budgets, often the first cutbacks come at the expense of training in emerging technology and leadership development. We do this at our peril. It undercuts our own ability to recruit and grow talented and committed nonprofit professionals at the time when we most need to fertilize the soil for future development. Having a meaningful job where you can make a difference does not mean you should do it for no money, no hope, and no opportunity.
Board members, your legal responsibility is to make sure the organization is well managed and fiscally sound. So what's your leadership development plan? It's better to grow the talent you have than to keep training new staff off the street. Pay them like the stars they are because without them, you don't have an organization. Insist on creating a place where the best and brightest people in your field want to put their hearts and minds.
Existing nonprofit leaders and executives, are you worried there's a group of committed employees ready to take your job? You should be so lucky! Mentoring isn't a burden, it's an investment. Of course nonprofit jobs are demanding, but they should also be rewarding, stimulating, and intellectually challenging, too. The difference between good and great is the strength of the team around you. Mentor a strong leader — I promise you'll get as much out of it as she does.
To those of you on the front line, don't wait for someone to pull you up the ladder. Take your nonprofit career seriously and reach out to a leader you admire — in your organization or another — and start the conversation. Learn about technology your own. Read and understand the reports to your board. Network. Ask your friends in the for-profit world how you might be able to benefit from any training or tools they have. For those of you who have been at it a while, take advantage of the new public service loan forgiveness program to eliminate your higher ed loans after ten years of nonprofit service!
The good news in "Ready to Lead" is that despite all of the apparent challenges, there are smart and capable professionals ready to take on the work for social change. Commit yourself to taking the next step toward making it happen.
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