Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Overcome your limitations and achieve more: The Abundant Not-For-Profit Review

Photo Credits: Philippa Willitts


I’ve been reading a great book called “The Abundant Not-For-Profit” and how you can magnify your impact through tapping into the skills and talents of those outside your organization.

If you are constrained by limited human and financial resources, networking becomes your key to achieving goals beyond your reach. My own personal experience with networking to search for knowledge philanthropists has allowed me to repeatedly overcome limitations.  From when I was the student president of AIESEC Kwantlen to running my own marketing consulting team and being the chair for a youth entrepreneurial committee, recruiting outside talent has always been the key to achieving my goals.

I agree with the ideology presented in the book and have been thinking about why it’s so powerful from my own experiences. How does it work? Here’s my thoughts on why Not-for-Profits can have abundance.

Volunteer opportunities can be happiness opportunities


Based on a documentary on happiness called, “Happy”, they did research and discovered that those who focus on, personal growth, developing relationships and helping others made individuals happy. Much happier than those who are extrinsically motivated. With that in mind Not-for-Profits by the nature of their meaningful work can provide an avenue for these intrinsic goals to be realized. People are looking for a way to fulfill these needs and Not-for-Profits are uniquely position to provide this by providing them the opportunity to offer their expertise and talents as knowledge philanthropists.

Draw people in with a strong vision


With this in mind you can be pro-active towards recruiting knowledge philanthropists which means networking becomes a key activity. However, most people I meet including leaders do not spend a lot of time or effort towards making new connections for their organizations. Once you begin creating a network and developing new relationships it will start impacting your organization in profound ways as it can give you access to the resources of a social network. A great book that examines the power of social networks in depth is called, “Connected”.

When it comes to our own social networks we tend to be clustered in tightly knit groups that don’t change very often. Based on the research in the book if you were to take any two of your friends at random chances are higher than 50 percent that they would know each other. This common structure means that you don’t usually reach out into the larger network.

When it comes to accessing the power of a social network it is actually through weak ties and acquaintances that we gain access to new opportunities. For example there was a survey conducted by Granovetter to find out how workers in a suburb got their jobs. They were asked a simple question of how often they saw the person who helped them get their job. The findings confirmed that its through your weaker ties and acquaintances that opportunities flow your way.

  • 17 percent responded often
  • 55 percent said occasionally
  • 28 percent said rarely

This power is at work in corporations as well where organization share their executives on the board of directors for other organizations. A great example would be Bill Clinton who sat on at least twelve boards at one point. By focusing on building relationships with externals this create network links between organizations that can serve and create new opportunities.

Networking to provide everyone with abundance


You can achieve goals and break through your organizational limitations through networking. Social networks allow us to achieve things that we could not achieve on our own. As a Not-for-Profit this is possible because of the nature of the work that Not-for-Profits provides to the community. You can attract additional expertise and talent through great volunteer opportunities that benefit all involved. However to attract that talent you’ll need both a strong clear vision and to get out there and start building new relationships !

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By Stevie Vu

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