So often in the nonprofit sector scarcity manifests as a lack of money — nonprofit leaders constantly bemoan the (perceived) fact that there just isn’t enough money to go around.
But if we dig a little deeper, money is just a means to an end. Likely the first thing you would buy if an abundance of money came along would be more staff. Nonprofit leaders have long suffered with fewer and less experienced staff than they really need to achieve their mission.
So how do you move towards an abundance of the people you need to accomplish your social change goals?
Start by asking for help.
Wait, what? Yep, heresy, I know, in the social change sector, which prides itself on cultivating a martyr complex among its leaders. In a sector defined by doing more with less, the assumption is that social change leaders can rarely afford the help they really need. But think about how harmful this view is.
Every single one of us needs help pretty much every step of the way. We humans are social animals, we know in our bones that we are stronger together. Why would we expect that social changemakers are somehow different?
There is absolutely no shame in admitting that you can’t do it all. I’m sorry to tell you, but even though you are an awesome social change warrior, you are not superhuman. You are a regular, ordinary human. And just like the rest of us, you need help. You have the right to admit that the work is too hard, or that being a social change leader is lonely. And most importantly, you have the right to raise your hand and ask for someone to help carry the load.
Once you admit that you need help, the next step is to figure out where you need help.
In my book, Reinventing Social Change, I talk about identifying your Zones of Genius as a way to figure out where you should focus your time, and where you should ask for help.
There are four zones:
- Zone of Incompetence — These are the tasks you are just not good at, and consequently they are likely also the tasks that are not fun for you. Don’t worry, we all have zones of incompetence.
- Zone of Competence — You are capable and efficient at these activities, but a lot of other people are as well. These tasks also likely don’t bring you joy.
- Zone of Excellence — You are expert at these activities because you have honed these skills over many years, through education and/or experience. Because you are good at them, they are probably fun and easy for you.
- Zone of Genius — This is where the magic happens. You do these activities better than the vast majority of people because they are within your unique, natural-born abilities. Because you were born to do these tasks they are incredibly easy and joyful for you.
So, list all the tasks you currently perform, then review it by labeling each task according to its applicable zone by honestly asking yourself:
“Am I unskilled at this task (Incompetent),
relatively good at it (Competent),
excellent at it (Excellent), or
born to do it (Genius)?”
The items that fall into your Zones of Excellence and Genius are where to focus your time. You have no business doing the tasks that fall into your Zones of Incompetence and Competence, since you either are doing harm or you are adequate at them but many other people could take those items off your list. Here’s when you outsource or simply eliminate that work.
If you are going to stop doing some tasks, then someone else needs to do a whole lot of work, right? So, you must ask for help.
And I can hear the usual nonprofit refrain “But we don’t have the money to hire more help!” Yes you do, by raising Capacity Capital.
There is lots more about how to move to a social change financing approach in my new book, Reinventing Social Change, which is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, Porchlight, and BookShop. And make sure you’re subscribed to my email list to be the first to know about webinars, reader’s circles, trainings and other events related to the book. You can join the Social Velocity e-list here.
Photo Credit: Jametlene Reskp