Mary Poppins smallMy favorite movie as a child was the epic adventure of Mary Poppins. I love everything about it, including my favorite song in the piece, “Feed the Birds” – which to this day makes me cry. But, the best lesson in the piece for children is the song “Spoonful of Sugar.” It opens with these lyrics: “In every job that must be done / There is an element of fun / You find the fun and snap! / The job’s a game.” P.L. Travers, the author of the book, Mary Poppins, wanted to teach children that hard times are part of life and often out of your control, but that you can always control your attitude.

With COVID-19 here and many of us living and working in isolation, it is even more important for social sector leaders to heed this advice – how do we add fun to our work and how do we reduce the impact of isolation? How do we collectively help the medicine go down? For my team, we are dusting off projects that we have been needing to get around to. For my clients, we are using the group process of Zoom for all sorts of uses – professional development, team projects and bonding experiences. To help you with your downtime, we wanted to share some ideas:

Bring your VISION & MISSION into the 21st Century – We have many blogs that explore vision and mission. Based on client surveys, few nonprofits are satisfied with them and often mistake one for the other. Read our blogs and see if you are in need of an upgrade. Ask yourself: should they be shorter and more memorable? Is your vision aspirational enough? Is our mission uniquely our own? If they need an upgrade, consider bringing together a small task force of staff and board members to refine them. Or, get individuals across the organization to think about them and share their versions and create a final mash-up based on the results.

Rewrite HISTORY – Many organizations have such a great history, but as staff change that history gets lost. In a shared Google doc, capture each year of your existence and have staff populate it with events and pictures. Think broadly about key events or activities that happened – grants received, buildings occupied, policies enacted, dollars raised and impact generated. Once complete, schedule a Zoom reveal and celebrate your history as a reminder that you have survived a lot in the past and will survive today’s events. Our client, 29 Acres, recently develop an online Jeopardy game based on that agency’s history and program facts. They now use it for board and volunteer trainings, and folks love it!

Call the BRAND police – We have our logos and taglines in many places and often find it hard to update it everywhere. Use this time to develop/update brand guidelines and send them out to everyone. Don’t forget to have everyone download all the current versions and delete others as well as review all existing materials against it. And, remember what Mary Poppins would say, make it fun – give awards for the Best Collateral Piece, Most Out-of-Date Collateral Piece, and Everything in Between at your next staff meeting.

Co-create VALUES with your entire organization – We are big fans of having values that speak to you as an organization. In fact, we work with every client organization to create/embed them within their strategic plans. To help your team identify the most meaningful values for your organization, we have developed a fun process, which is a twist on personal vision boards. Shout-out to ChildCareGroup in Dallas whose team developed these awesome values – called the CCG Spirit – based on our process.

Assess your IMPACT CULTURE – We know data is here to stay and will be even more important in a post-COVID-19 world. Take our assessment and see how well you are doing in capturing and using that data to create an impact culture. Or, even better, follow the lead of our client, Youth 180,  who brought us in to train their entire team on data-driven decision-making, so they can come out of COVID-19 even stronger. 

Become a STORYTELLING culture – We are big believers in the impact of storytelling and the importance of ensuring that every person who is connected to a nonprofit not only knows the story, but also has their own personal elevator pitch. This is the reason we turned our live storytelling course into an online, gamified version. We are offering it for $19 now (90% off using the code: LEMONADE), so you can use this downtime to learn how to better tell your story. We also are excited to have dozens of nonprofits and foundations now completing it as a team and using their staff meetings to debrief and share their masterpieces. Here is a link for one way to organize the collective learning.

Ensure TRANSITION happens smoothly – Now more than ever, we need to be sure that every organization has a leadership succession plan at all levels of the organization – for both staff and volunteers. Use this downtime to educate leadership on succession planning (we even have a good presentation that you can borrow!) and develop an emergency and planned succession plan for key staff and volunteers.

And, with every task you undertake, let us help you turn it into a piece of cake – seriously, we are here 24/7 online and via email to assist with anything you want/need to do during this downtime. We are here to help and would love to spend our downtime hearing from our Trendspotters.


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