When Karen Baker, California Secretary of Service and Volunteering, stepped up to the podium to address affiliates of the HandsOn Network about sustainability last week in Los Angeles, she’d just stepped off a plane after a day-long travel ordeal involving a lost ID, airport security and a broken plane. Seattle Works was in the crowd as she explained how her exhausting day led to a revelation about how nonprofit organizations thrive in an increasingly competitive and underfunded world:
Always have your ID–and make sure you have working equipment.
But let’s back up a second–what brought a bunch of us to a hotel conference room in Los Angeles in the first place? Seattle Works is part of the HandsOn Network, a group of over 250 organizations worldwide that mobilize volunteers to create change in their communities. Twice a year, we have the chance to meet with other affiliates of the Network to talk hear about each others’ work and talk shop for a few days.
This time around, the theme was sustainability. Which brings us back to IDs and working equipment. What was Karen’s take on how our organizations can thrive in an increasingly strapped sector?
- Bring your ID: be clear about who you are and what you offer–and make sure that it speaks to the community you serve. Build your reputation and don’t be afraid to show it off.
- Make sure your equipment works: build relationships with the organizations in your community and the people you serve because they will give you access and legitimacy. Invest in the things and relationships that will make your organization work in the long-run.
As a network of organizations in the business of connecting, Karen also reminded us of the unique role we play, “We see the resources and see the challenges–and we are the matchmakers.”
At the end of the day, above all, she urged us to remember, “This should be fun!”