ACT I: Expand Horizons With A Newsletter Click

Grant writer. CEO. Fundraiser. Director of Communications. Alumni Director. VP of Sales. CMO. Event Planner. Ghost writer for an MIT trained engineer.

That’s a list of some of the job titles I’ve held during my professional career. Quite a variety.

In each job, my bosses handed me assignments to finish and goals to reach. Most of the time they were very bottom line oriented, i.e. SHOW US THE MONEY! Some of my bosses wanted me to concentrate 100% of the time on my job and the tasks at hand. Curiosity about other fields, which might even be related to what I was doing, was discouraged.

Thankfully I had a boss or two who allowed me to be curious, to read, to learn, to explore. They realized that just because I worked at a nonprofit doesn’t mean I can’t gain new insights and skills from, for example, the business world. They understood that you can learn something from everyone.

In the nonprofit world, where the tasks are many and the staff is few, intellectually curious employees may not have the time to consume content not directly related to their job description.

Sometimes nonprofit employees are duct taped into their box. I have talked to many NPO colleagues who simply would tell me: My boss doesn’t want to hear about it. If I’m a fundraiser, then the only thing the boss demands I spend time on is figuring out how to bring in more donations. Anything else? Do it in my spare time.

And then they laugh. Because what nonprofit employee has spare time?!

This is why I started the Your Daily Dose of Nonprofit (YDDN) newsletter: To bring content from across the Net directly to your Inbox which will help you with any role you fill at a nonprofit. Expand your horizons with one click.

ACT II: Curiosity Kills Cats. You’re Not A Cat (based on data analysis)

Planned giving. Email. Storytelling. Ethics. Leadership. Fundraising. Content marketing. Media outreach. Web design. Life work balance. Board management.

That’s a partial list of topics covered in the YDDN newsletter over the last two weeks. They are all relevant to the work being done by every single employee in your organization.

Take web design for example. It’s important to

  • Fundraisers: Is the website designed to encourage donations? When they arrive at the online donation page, are you employing best practices to make the donation process seamless and quick?
  • Marketers: The website is plastered on every online and offline promotional material/outlet. The site needs to be user friendly and the content easily digested so people stick around and learn about the organization.
  • Leaders: When you speak publicly, does the information you’re presenting match what can be found on your org’s website? I don’t need to tell you that isn’t always the case.
  • Program directors: Is the information on the program pages current? Does it answer the questions that potential constituents want to know? Is it easy to find those answers?

Your organization’s website is your digital face to the world and usual first point of entry for those wanting to know who you are. Knowing more about web design can go a long way. But if your boss doesn’t give you the time to explore and insists that web design is the job of the development company who manages the site (they themselves may have very little nonprofit background), then the entire organization suffers.

There’s no reason employee’s curiosity should be stymied. Just the opposite: Allowing them to branch out may bring new ideas to the table and encourage different thinking about implementing overall strategy and day-to-day functioning. Most importantly, it’s empowering to employees when they feel that their voices are being heard on a wide range of issues.

Photo by Nicole Wolf on Unsplash

So if your boss doesn’t want you ‘wasting time’ looking for enriching content, YDDN has you covered. I list the estimated reading time for each article, so that you know how much of your coffee break you’ll need to learn something new.

Even when a boss allows, there may not be enough hours in the day to search for and read interesting articles. Or maybe we internalize the pressure of getting everything done now and we don’t allow ourselves the gift of learning?

YDDN is here to help. As the YDDN Triple C (Chief Content Curator), my goal is to find a wide range of relevant content, information filled articles and bring four of them to your Inbox, every Monday through Thursday. Click, learn, implement.

Did the idea for a newsletter pop into my head recently? Nope. The truth is, the seed for the idea of YDDN was planted a very long time ago. Let me back up for just a second and give you a history lesson. Specifically, we visit my 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Joan Greene.

ACT III: Monday Was Curiosity Day

Vasco da Gama. Cortez. Marco Polo. Columbus. Lewis and Clark. Magellan.

Vasco da Gama Report (A+ baby!)

Every Monday, during 5th grade (1981/82 if you’re curious), Mrs. Greene would hand us the name of a famous explorer. We had until Friday to submit a written (in script!) report. So every Monday, I had the blue schoolbus drop me off at the library after school. I’d find books about the explorer, photocopy pages from the Encyclopedia and I’d get to work.

This went on for an entire year. I learned the fine arts of notetaking and editing. I became very adept at using tracing paper to copy maps and add them to the reports. My mother taught me calligraphy so my cover page had a little flair.

Most important: This year-long exercise taught me to be curious. To explore. To learn as much as I could about a new topic.

Mrs. Greene wanted to expand our awareness of geography, other cultures and social norms, history, shipping, trade between nations, politics and war. Knowing the routes each explorer traveled and lands founded wasn’t enough. The goal was to broaden, not restrict, our overall knowledge.

So thank you Mrs. Greene for the inspiration! Mrs. Greene was my homeroom teacher in grades five and six. She remains, for many reasons which I’ll discuss in a blog post at a later date, the teacher who influenced me the most and my favorite alltime teacher.

I haven’t directly asked her but I bet she’d tell you it’s a good idea to subscribe to YDDN 😊

P.S. Once you have subscribed and are reading the newsletter, I encourage any and all feedback. I read every email and will respond (except for spam from Nigerian princes). Although this post was brewing for awhile, its posting is also due to feedback. My friend Jim, a nonprofit lifer, wrote me a message: “I have feedback. I’d like to know: Why are these stories important to you?” I hope the above post has sufficiently answered your question, Jim. At the end of the day, I think they’re important to everyone in the sector.

Ephraim and Mrs Greene

Ephraim with Mrs. Greene, August 2017