As someone who has been “doing” nonprofit work for over twenty years, I frequently find myself aghast at what goes on in the nonprofit world. Too often, the nonprofit world becomes the dumping ground for people who can’t make it in business or other professions. It is a “fall-back position” as it were.
Or, as bad, for board members, it is a resume builder.
Needless to say, she went on to be very successful in her job, she became a servant leader.
A friend of mine today sits on the board of a theatre company in Colorado. They are pursuing a bold initiative of securing large sums of money to buy a building that will not only house theatre productions but all sorts of community events. This is a very intelligent man with a deep business background who probably doesn’t have the time to give, but gives it anyway because something has sparked his passion for the project. So he spends inordinate amounts of his time meeting and planning and visioning. He is a servant leader. He looks at his community and sees a need and is willing to sacrifice a part of his life in order to accomplish something grand.
The nonprofit world requires servant leaders. It requires people who have a love for what they do. It very often requires personal sacrifice and it requires passion every moment of every day.
While I firmly believe nonprofit entities should be run like a business with an eye to the bottom line and good business practices, by and large, nonprofit entities are not making widgets, we are solving problems, meeting needs and securing quality of life for now and the future.
That report was done in 2007, my guess is with the faltering economy the nonprofit share of the GDP has grown.
I would ask anyone involved in any way with a nonprofit and within eye-shot of this post to look deep into their souls and ask “why?” Are you there to be a servant leader or are you looking to get something for yourself out of it? If your answer is the latter, please be honest and walk away.
Servant leaders give of themselves. They engage in their cause and find passions they never knew existed. They don’t ask “what’s in it for me?” They ask “what can I do to make it better?”