As a nonprofit leader, you are likely suffering under the delusion that you have little power. For far too long, nonprofit leaders have been operating from the (incorrect) belief that they are largely powerless to impact much beyond their own boardroom (and sometimes not even there). I talked about the philanthropic side of this feeling of powerlessness in the blog last week.
But the truth is that you are powerful beyond measure. We all have within us more power than we know. Once we choose to stop giving it away to other people, things, and ideas, we begin to realize that power.
The first step is to figure out where and how you are giving away your power. So ask yourself:
Am I Giving My Power Away to Money?
The social sector has such a dysfunctional relationship with money. So if you find yourself worrying about if, when, or how money will come through your doors, you are likely giving your power away to money. Believe me, I get it. Money can be very scary. But how liberating to move from spending sleepless nights fearful of money, to getting crystal clear about what you want to accomplish with the money you fear, and then putting together a plan to start attracting that money. In so doing, you move from being money’s victim to becoming a powerful director of money’s flow.
Am I Giving My Power Away to Funders?
Closely related to giving your power away to money is giving your power away to those who you may view as the controllers of money — funders, whether they be foundation leaders, government decision makers, or individual donors. But let’s be clear. No one controls money, money is merely a tool that flows to those who believe they deserve to attract it. So start believing how worthy you are of all the money you seek. Focus on (and herald) the tremendous value you are bringing to your clients, your community, the world. From this position of confidence and power, money will begin to flow.
Am I Giving My Power Away to Policymakers?
If your organization has a social change mission there are likely laws and policies, whether at the local, state or federal level that impact your work. But so often nonprofit and philanthropic leaders shy away from the power to influence policymakers because of a misguided fear of becoming too political. But there are a whole host of very legal ways that nonprofits and foundations can get involved in advocacy. So stop eschewing the policy realm and step into your advocacy power.
Am I Giving My Power Away to My Neglected Needs?
And perhaps the biggest place you give away your power is in not meeting your own needs first. If you are anything like the countless nonprofit leaders I know, you rarely give yourself the space and time to meet your own needs — from basic needs like eating 3 meals a day and taking regular bathroom breaks, to more sophisticated (but still very necessary) needs of connection, respect, strength and freedom that come from truly valuing yourself. When you deny your own needs, you are giving away your power because you are very clearly saying “I don’t matter.” And in that very act, you are cutting yourself and your work off at the knees.
There are likely many other ways that you are limiting your own power and ultimately the social change you seek. You owe it to yourself, your social change work — and ultimately the rest of us — to figure out where to reclaim your power. Because the world, and the many problems we face, desperately need you to be a powerful social change leader.
If you want to learn more about reclaiming your social change power, register for the Social Velocity Free Training. And to make sure you don’t miss out on upcoming free trainings and other opportunities to be part of an amazing community of social change warriors, join the Social Velocity e-list. Sign up here.
Photo Credit: Brooke Lark