Working at a nonprofit is hard. You need to do whatever it takes to stay positive and optimistic in your quest. Some days, that means taking a good look at yourself in the mirror and seeing yourself for what you really are: a nonprofit Jedi Master.
Here at Classy, we look to Star Wars for inspiration, too. In fact, if you visited our office on a Friday, you’d see many staff members embracing their inner Jedi Masters by donning their favorite Star Wars garb for Star Wars Friday.
In honor of “May the Fourth,” and to provide a well-deserved laugh to all our fellow Jedi Masters out there, this one’s for you.
13 Ways Working at a Nonprofit Is Like Star Wars
1. You’re Fighting a Battle, and Sometimes It Really Feels Like Good versus Evil
You’re not one to play the blame game, but there are times when it helps to imagine what you’re up against as the villain of your nonprofit’s story. This is even a key nonprofit marketing tactic as you work to connect a larger audience to your mission. The bad guy doesn’t have to be a person; they’re your “opponent,” or the obstacle in your hero’s way…and boy are they going down.
2. You’ve Got to Reach People Far, Far Away
To make the biggest impact possible, it’s necessary to attract support from far and wide. The right fundraising software frees your organization from geographical constraints and allows you to engage with donors and fundraisers around the globe.
3. Sometimes You Have to Rely on People’s Soft Spots
Giving is an emotional experience, and sometimes to make that connection you need to hit your audience right in the feels. You’re not afraid to get real and inspire your audience.
The key is to keep it relatively light and focus on the good feels that donors can both create for those they impact, and personally experience through their own involvement.
4. There’s an Inexplicable Force That Guides You in Your Quest
As a nonprofit employee, you’re answering a higher calling. It’s not always glamorous, but this sense of duty to serve the greater good gets you out of bed in the morning. And the knowledge of how your work contributes to the bigger picture centers you in your day to day.
5. Sometimes Your Hard Work Goes Unrecognized
While you may feel personally fulfilled in your work, sometimes you could use a pat on the back.
Unfortunately, in all walks of work, you’re not always going to find yourself in a supportive environment. To stay fired up and energized in your role no matter what, do what you can to stay close to your cause. If you work in development, that could mean partnering with your programs leader and going into the field from time to time, “just because.”
6. Your Boss Can Be a Little Intense
The right leadership at the helm makes all the difference. Maybe your manager’s intensity is what you need to keep driving forward. Or maybe it’s doing more harm than good. Because different individuals react differently to leadership styles, it’s important for leadership to understand how to motivate across the board.
Feel like they (or you) could use a friendly reminder? This quiz can help:
7. Some of Your Coworkers Think You Have a Strange Definition of “Fun”
Nonprofit campaigns, especially events, can be pretty chaotic. While some in your shoes would be overwhelmed, you find the challenge to be exciting and energizing.
Remember that your positive attitude goes further than you think and impacts your team around you. Keep the fire burning, and you’re like to reap the rewards come performance reviews.
8. You’re Dumbfounded When You Meet Someone Who’s Never Heard of Your Cause
You’re so in the weeds it can be a little shocking when you meet someone who isn’t aware of the problem you address. But hey, moments like these are precisely why your organization even exists. Lean in and put on your educator hat. It’s your responsibility to elevate relevant opportunities to contribute to the solution and incite action.
9. You’ve Always Been an Optimist
You’ve never been one to let statistics bum you out. This is a good thing, because as a nonprofit, sometimes you need to share some dismal ones about the problem you seek to address.
With your boots on the ground, there will always be hope for progress and for those numbers to change.
10. But When The Going Gets Tough, You Have Your Moments
Nobody’s perfect. And staying optimistic in the face of everything isn’t easy.
Remember to lean on your team in moments like these. Sometimes honesty in the more challenging moments goes further than feigning that “everything’s fine.”
Read how the president and CEO of Wipe Out Kids’ Cancer uses authentic leadership to align her team in the post below.
11. You’re Known to be a Little Long-Winded at Times
Maybe brevity isn’t your strong suit. But you’re working on it.
While it’s easy to feel like every individual needs a lot of background information before they become a supporter, it’s not necessarily recommended that you follow George Lucas’ lead here. More often than not, successful stories capture an audience not by diving into the background information in chapter one, but by plopping the reader down right in the middle of a scene.
You can use this same thought process when it comes to informing your audience. Get right to it in your marketing materials—once a visitor is hooked, learning the ins and outs of the problem’s history can happen organically along the way.
12. There’s a Lot Riding on Your Work
At the 2017 Collaborative, the CEO and founder of Team Rubicon, Jake Wood, shared how easy it is to feel overwhelmed.
“The reality is that the work we all do, it’s very important. It can be very serious. We often find ourselves taking on the gravity of the issues that we are facing…you can feel that emotional toll, it’s draining.”
He went on to remind the audience how important it is to maintain a sense of personality and human-ness in your role to combat these feelings. He asked everyone to consider,
“For your own individual sustainability, how do you recharge? How do you take care of yourself?”
Self-care is a crucial part of achieving your mission. Prioritize healthy work habits that help you and your entire team take the emotional toll of your work in stride.
13. Today’s Youth Hold the Key
When you’re honest with yourself, you’re not always sure that the many changes you hope to see in the world around you will happen in your lifetime. And while there are times when that idea upsets you, you choose to see hope in the next generation of changemakers and realize your important role in contributing to their future success.
For that reason, it’s key to take time to pass on your knowledge and inspire millennials and Generation Z for when the time comes to pass the torch.
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