January 21, 2019

The Magic of Small Gifts, Will You Make This Your Year?

Over the last several years, I’ve noticed that my holiday and birthday packages are shrinking. No, I’m not getting diamonds, rubies, and emeralds exactly.

Moreover, I blame my present’s diminishing size on my parents. They were raised during the Depression and taught me a do-it-yourself mentality. With books, magazines, and YouTube, you can learn many things.

I realize I’ve been doing things the hard way. I’m wasting time and money. Doing it yourself requires you to suss out reliable resources. The poor-to-helpful stuff out there enjoys a 4:1 bad to good ratio, with the bad surpassing the good. To find the worthy, you must invest, not only time but in solutions that don’t work. I have cupboards full of vitamins and uncomfortable shoes as proof.

Furthermore, when you do find useful information, it embodies teasers that fail to tell the whole story. For instance, I love the book, Never Split the Difference, but when I read it I ask, “How exactly do I do that?

The Error in My Thinking

What I’ve learned is that for a small investment, I can skip the do-it-yourself hunt for information and buying tools that don’t work–and go directly to my goal. When family members ask me what I want for presents these days, I request expert advice. The shrinking presents contain gift certificates for advice about clothing, health, exercise, and my misbehaving hair. These small gifts provide quick solutions, and if not complete challenge eradication, pathways to swift upgrades.

Are You Making this Error, Too?

You run a complex nonprofit. You must manage staff, a board, a community, and maximize seven income streams. To optimize your mission, you run your organization as close as possible to a shoestring. While I applaud your frugality, if you’re not supplementing your work with expert advice, you’re doing things the hard way. No one can be an expert on all aspects of running a nonprofit.

Your thrift costs you time and money. Worse, you hurt your cause. Instead of implementing solutions, you circle them. A client called just before the holidays. They’d been stuck for months getting a program started. Could I help? For a nominal fee, I developed a start-up plan that they liked, hashed out several questions, including a couple they hadn’t considered, and helped get them underway.

When your supporters ask what they can do for you, ask for expert advice. Build funds for your continuing education in your budget. While workshops and presentations provide great information and inspiration, they are samples, tastes, and teasers. To leap forward, you need one-on-one help or a mastermind group. How can you make this your year? Invest in expert advice.

For more answers, check out the  Nonprofit CEO Library.

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Karen Eber Davis

Karen Eber Davis provides customized advising and coaching around nonprofit strategy and board development. People leaders hire her to bring clarity to sticky situations, break through barriers that seem insurmountable, and align people for better futures. She is the author of 7 Nonprofit Income Streams and Let's Raise Nonprofit Millions Together.


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