Nonprofit Executive Director

Lonely Job

As an Executive Director I often felt alone. I couldn’t share my concerns or problems with staff or the Board. Volunteers may take my concerns the wrong way and my colleagues in the community could be competing with our organization. Lonely. I needed a sounding board, a safe place. Someone I could share my triumphs and fears with knowing I wouldn’t be judged just cheered on or cheered up. I needed a Coach! Someone on the sidelines who was cheering even if I missed the ball. Who had a water bottle and snacks and one eye on me all the time.

Since I never had that person beyond the many mentors who gave me great support along the way. I want to be THAT person. It’s my Second Act and now I can provide the cheering, encouraging, snack and water toting that every Executive Director needs to be their best. Call me, I have my chair, sunscreen and hat ready to root for you from the sidelines.

Nonprofit Executive Director
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Executive Director

The Executive Director – a hard job to love

The job of an Executive Director of a nonprofit organization is the hardest job one will ever do.  True? Sure feels like it.  I have had people who have experienced many types of jobs (for profit and non profit) say it is true. I cannot compare.  An Executive Director has many lines of input, but the accountability stays with them.  Who provides input? A Board who means well, but doesn’t always know the true nature of the work of an Executive Director.  Volunteers, who mean well and have passion for the mission, but may not have a full view of the role. And often a national organization with a structured Home office staff who can have a lot of input, but not much accountability.  So how does one keep all of these voices happy?  It is hard sometimes.  Picking the right people on the Board is one way and communicating often is the best way.  If staff and volunteers know what is going on they have less time to make things up or imagine the worse.  Talk with them, provide follow up, send a newsletter, keep the Board Chair in the loop, always! Being an Executive Director is the hardest job you will ever love.

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What can nonprofits really do?

“What’s important is how we use our time on this earth, not how conspicuously we give our money away. What’s important is the energy and courage we are willing to expend reversing entropy, battling cynicism, suffering and challenging mediocre minds, staring down those who would trample our dreams, taking a stand for magic, and advancing the potential of the human race.”

Nonprofit organizations in the United States are tasked with solving problems.  We do not pay taxes for the government to do this, in the US it is nonprofits.  Yet, those very organizations meant to solve problems are held to such unrealistic expectations of their overhead that very few problems get solved.  It is time for the sector to look at overhead.  What is reasonable, what can donors expect and how to make real change.  Until we tackle this problem in the sector, real magic cannot occur. ~ Dan Pallotta

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Magic Happens

Hard work isn’t magic, but hard work can create magic. If you believe in that sort of thing…

I do. I believe that if you follow a recipe you can create magic. If that recipe is focused on an organization that does good…then you can create nonprofit magic. 

I have built my career on turning organizations around. I have worked throughout many communities and organizations and I have taken many struggling operations to new heights. I have never done it alone, but I have always followed a recipe to build the right formula of staff and volunteers. When those two things come together and the staff and volunteers move in the same direction the organization can go to new heights.

Is it truly magic, no. But when it happens it is special and it feels like magic.

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