Behind every smile is a lesson(or 2)

15 Jan

What I have learned from having a non profit organization

Over the years I have learned a few things in the business world, but I can honestly say that I have learned more in the last 5 years than all of my years of working combined.

I come from a background of sales.  I worked for a major telecommunications company for 7 years and before that for a couple of other sales companies.  I loved dealing with people, making them smile, helping them find what they need, and asking them to send more people my way.  BUT, I wanted more.  After just 1 year at the telecommunications company, I went for management and from there wanted upper management….that is…..until I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer.  Here I was 7 years into a career that I just knew I would retire from and I had no desire to be there.  What next?

I am a firm believer that what you go through today is preparing you for your tomorrow, but know just  how much this was going to help with For Our Daughters.

For anyone that is considering starting their own non profit, you need to know that it has to be something that is from the heart!  If you don’t have a passion to see others do better then this is not for you.  Every year I learn a lot, but I have to say that 2016 was  a year of great challenges AND great rewards.

I am used to hard work and wouldn’t feel right with life being any other way, but when you do work that your heart is involved in it can become exhausting if you don’t have the right safeguards in place.  This blog is meant for those that want a peek into the world of a non profit organization!

1.TRANSPARENCY.  I always struggle with supporting organizations that aren’t open and honest.  Supporters should know where their money is going and volunteers should know the background and mission of the organization that they are serving.  Somewhere along the way leaders were told that by hiding our weaknesses that we will appear to have it all together.  That can’t be further from the truth!  By being honest and open, you can relate to your supporters and also give them a sense of where they can help.  People want to help where they feel wanted, remember that.

2.TIME MANAGEMENT.  One of the lessons that I learned early on in my career is if you respect people’s time, they respect you.  There is nothing worse than signing up to support a person or organization and they are consistently late.  It gives off the impression that you aren’t serious about what you are doing.  Preparation is key.  Prepare in advance and be on time!!! Time management is also very important because in the non profit world, there is always more work to be done.  Realize what is most important in your life and prioritize.  No deed comes before my family and they know that.

3. BE ON TIME.  I know I just spoke about this in time management, but I am repeating myself because it is just that important to me!  Do what you say you are going to do and do it on time!

4. HONOR THOSE AROUND YOU.  One of the greatest gifts that you can give those that support you is honor.  Everyone wants to know that not only is their hard work noticed, but that you appreciate them.  There are so many other places that others can spend their time and resources and they chose your org.  If you don’t honor them, someone else will.

5. LONG HOURS ARE IN THE MANUAL!  When I worked in sales, we had a saying that “sales never sleeps”.  It is the same in the non profit world.  This takes balance, but is possible.  Rest, recreation time, having the right people in your inner circle, having mentors that always make you strive for more will keep you refreshed and always ready for more.  A clear mind is a creative mind.  Prioritize the things and people in your life and get to work.  Carry a journal, you never know when the next great idea is going to come to you.  Be ready for the unexpected and expect great things.  Long hours are on the menu most days, but please know that no work goes unrewarded.  I have spent so many long nights over the years and I am still surprised at the amazing things that happen!  All of those long hours have and will continue to yield great rewards.

6.DEVELOP GREAT RELATIONSHIPS.  Get out to networking events, support other non profits, and reach out to those that you wouldn’t normally reach out to.  You have to have a mind that is open enough to believe that your next great idea can come from anyone and anywhere.  These take time to develop, so don’t rush it.

7. SMILE. Smiles are contagious, so do it often.  Nothing says confidence in what you are doing like a smile!  Show those around you why what you are doing makes you smile.  You are saving the world one person at a time, THAT’S A BIG DEAL!

8. TELL YOUR STORY.  Behind every smile is a story.  No one has a perfect life and there is a reason why you have the desire to serve others the way you do.  Telling your downfalls and triumphs is not a weakness, it is a strength that frees those around you.  Tell your story and watch as those around you flourish!!!!


There are so many more lessons, these are just a few!  If you have other suggestions please share!