Alana V. Allen
For the Love of Nonprofits
When I first started out with an amazing idea to start a nonprofit back in 2009, I seriously didn’t know what to expect.
In my small way of thinking, the idea for I Am A Queen was for the organization to become a book club. My dream was for a group of women to come together monthly to read empowerment and self-help books. Well honey…that idea faded quickly and the Lord had other plans!
I Am A Queen is an organization I love dearly, and has blessed thousands of people for the past seven years in the Piedmont Triad with our annual teen empowerment conferences, back to school drives, Thanksgiving Turkey giveaways, Christmas adoption programs and winter drive for the homeless. The organization has grown over the years and doesn’t have plans to stop anytime soon. It is now picking up great momentum and it is receiving attention for its work in the community. The process has not been easy, but it has been worth it.
Now let’s take a look at reality:
The plans for starting a nonprofit required me to become the master of strategy, marketing, bookkeeping, storytelling, donor retention, program development and understanding the psychology of teenage girls. The list can honestly go on and on but you get my point that nonprofit leaders wear many hats. The work of a nonprofit requires hard work that can sometimes become tedious and repetitive. It is not for the faint at heart because you will be rejected, forgotten and you will miss out on sleep. However, it is imperative that your fight to the top goes back to your mission statement. Yes, that is absolutely correct! All of your hard work is to fulfill your mission statement. When you apply for grants, foundations want to know about the organization’s mission and programs. They want to see how effective your current programs are and how many people you are impacting in your community.
Tips on Being an Effective Nonprofit Leader:
Write out your nonprofit vision: The best thing a nonprofit leader can do is write down a vision that
lays out the entire plan for your nonprofit and get to work. In times of distress, go back to your vision and remember your “why.” You may cry for a moment but your vision is everything and it will lead you back to your foundation. A very popular scripture, Habakkuk 2:2-3, in the Bible says …“Write the vision, and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come. It will not tarry.”
Be Patient: Let’s all take a deep breath with this one because I can guarantee you there is someone reading this post right now who wants their dreams to become a reality overnight. However, running a nonprofit or any business doesn’t build momentum instantly. It takes serious commitment and consistency to build a nonprofit to the point that people start recognizing it for the services it provides to the community. Your patience will sustain you and I promise you, you will be able to share great stories about your nonprofit has evolved over the years.
Keep track of everything: This is one of the greatest habits you should master in the beginning by keeping good records of donations, expenses, meetings, donors, events, and all of the above. You don’t ever want to be sitting somewhere and someone calls you to present on the impact of your nonprofit and you’re not prepared. It’s your job as CEO, president or executive director to always be ready.
Be humble: In the beginning, your work will start out small but if you remain humble, consistent and focus on your mission. You will have the ability to create something amazing that will impact your community on a greater level.
Have fun: If you are not having fun, then why are you doing it. If your nonprofit, doesn’t make your heart smile or your unable to speak with enthusiasm then you are in the wrong field of work. Your nonprofit should spark your passion and become so contagious that other people want to support you.
There is so much more I can add to this post but I will do that in part two. If you are interested in speaking with me about your nonprofit or doing a consultation on how to start, please go to www.alanaknowsnonprofits.com to book your appointment. I’d love to hear from you!