Unsolicited positive feedback is a lovely gift and one to be cherished, especially when it comes from a highly regarded leader in your field.
Janet Beardsley, CEO of the YWCA in Boulder, wrote a letter to the Editor of the Daily Camera acknowledging the final April 2nd MAKING MONEY MATTER newspaper column, Fare (and give) Well. Her letter was humbling to read and for me, a recognition and realization that maybe, just maybe, the pebbles dropped, the nuggets shared, and the passing on of knowledge and insight can actually make a difference. Thank you, Janet.
In her letter, Janet also spoke of her impending retirement in September and referenced a passing of the torch to a new cadre of non-profit leaders.
Much like what is happening in many other sectors, the non-profit world is clearly being impacted by the tide of baby boomers who are stepping down from leadership positions within non-profits and choosing to contribute differently. Retirement is being redefined in positive ways, from the abrupt, gold watch to rocking chair model to a new kind of adaptation as the nature of work changes for everyone
Ubiquitous technology, asynchronous communication, just-in-time learning, consulting (both paid and pro-bono shared values/mission based) are all altering the possibilities of off-site, part-time, and sporadic contributions to the success of the enterprise. In other words, the “retiring” leaders are a valuable resource for the new cadre of aspiring leaders.
Too often, institutional memory is undervalued or even anathema. Too often in the name of fresh new ideas, traditions or core truths or whatever is considered old-fashioned is discarded. That said, some of the most creative new ideas actually come from the seasoned leaders with the experience, insight and wisdom to see possibilities that may not be evident to those who haven’t had the breadth that comes with an enduring commitment.
The best hope for real organizational success in the non-profit world is to recognize that ‘new and improved’ sometimes turns out to be repackaged; fads come and go, and sustained success allows for creativity, growth and change while preserving the best of what made the organization successful in the first place.
Old-timers (preferably described as seasoned professionals!) in the non-profit world know a few truths that simply don’t change:
People give to people who have a shared purpose.
Long-term relationships matter.
Every donor is a universe of one.
Janet’s letter was hopeful and optimistic. Endings create new beginnings. Enid’s blog is a result of being inspired to commit to writing more articles, sharing more ideas, answering more questions, and building MAKINGMONEYMATTER.COM into a valued resource for donors to self-educate, non-profit leaders to build a donor-centric culture of philanthropy within their organizations, and fundraising professionals to elevate their practices.
Old dogs can learn new tricks, and I still have a few up my sleeves.