Want Your Nonprofit to Grow? Give Away Your Legos.
We’ve recently been meeting with one of clients and discussing the challenges and opportunities that are associated with scaling. Niki shared this article focused on for-profit scaling (especially in the tech community) the content is relevant to any nonprofit that is trying to scale their operations.
“The best metaphor I have for scaling is building one of those huge, complex towers out of Legos,” she says. “At first, everyone’s excited. Scaling a team is a privilege. Being inside a company that’s a rocket ship is really cool. There are so many Legos! You could build anything. At the beginning, as you start to scale, everyone has so many Legos to choose from — they’re doing 10 jobs — and they’re all part of building something important.”
You have so many choices and things to build during this early phase that it’s easy to get overwhelmed. There’s too much work — too many Legos. You’re not sure you can do it all yourself. Soon, you decide you need help. So you start to add people. That’s when something funny happens on a personal level and to teams: People get nervous.
Even if your nonprofit isn’t a rocket ship, this is something that most people can relate to. Why do we get nervous? I’ve seen colleagues get defensive when an individual project is shifted to a group. I’ve also witnessed individuals become fiercely territorial when someone suggests that a job responsibility be given to a volunteer. And at points in my career, I’ve reacted that way myself.
These reactions are often based on fear. While some employees invariably fear losing their job, those working for small and mid-sized nonprofits (that are almost always challenged with budget constraints) are acutely aware of the possibility. If a major donor leaves the organization or an event under-performs, staff reductions will happen. The idea of giving away job responsibilities is frightening! It could be construed that your job may not be necessary. Yet, when an organization is looking to increase program offerings, it becomes imperative for individuals to focus on job responsibilities that will allow that growth to happen. As Molly Graham says, in the article “If you personally want to grow as fast as your company, you have to give away your job every couple months.”
Think of a project or task that absorbs 10-15% of your time each week. What would you do if you didn’t have that project any more? Is there someone on your team that could do it more effectively? Or might bring a new creative energy to it? If you want to grow, you need to give away your legos.
Catching up on links from the past couple of weeks – here are some articles I found interesting, enjoyable, or helpful.
- Some of you may have noticed that Twitter updated design for Tweet and Follow buttons – learn more about it here.
- Another new change on the social media landscape, Facebook added a donate button. There’s been some debate about its usage. Allyson Kapin explains why you should use it.
- The always inspirational Shana Masterson has a couple of great links. Shana investigates if event registration discounts are helpful. And discusses how to get the Ultimate Yes in P2P reg forms.
- Scott E Allenby shares five questions to help you uncover your customers’ (or donors’) personas.
- Last week Kickstarter become a public benefit corporation. Rick Cohen from NPQ explains what that means and why it’s important.
- Finally, if you’re looking for a laugh, Allison Gauss of Classy highlights five amusing marketing videos by nonprofits.