At this time of year, we take time to reflect on ourselves over the past year, and to set intentions for how we will be in the coming year. All of us have room for improvement (think about Carol Dweck's "growth mindset") to become our best selves. Our personal well-being -- physical, mental and spiritual health -- is key to unlocking the best of who we are, at the office, with our families and friends, with with ourselves. Beth Kanter's new book, The Happy Healthy Nonprofit, written with co-author Aliza Sherman, is a fantastic resource for leaders and managers in our community to reflect on both their own well-being and to consider how to foster healthier professional environments to help all of us thrive.
Over the past few years at See3, we’ve been working hard on building a company culture that values the personal well being of our employees and invests in our team to be a productive family based on shared values. This attention is paying off, with happy and hard-working staff who are generous with each other and our clients. We take time to celebrate each other’s accomplishments in the office and outside of it. We are also attracting talented and diverse new employees who want to advance their careers and have a great quality of life while doing it.
Because we’ve been thinking about these issues a lot, we are particularly excited about this new book, The Happy Healthy Nonprofit. In it, these two superstar authors tackle head-on an issue which those of us working in the nonprofit world know so well — burnout. If you want to find people who work really hard, in often challenging circumstances for low pay, look no further than your nearest nonprofit organization.
Beth’s previous books looked at how nonprofits can change to be more nimble and function better in our newly connected digital world. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the issue of employee health and burnout avoidance comes next. With the quickening of the pace of communications, more competition for donors' attention and more scrutiny of nonprofit work than ever, it’s no wonder that burnout is finally on the agenda.
The authors point out that nonprofits have unique challenges with these issues because sacrifice is often in the DNA of social movements. They write:
Self-sacrifice becomes a cultural norm in organizations and movements. Leaders who give up their personal lives for the cause often evaluate staff members’ value or commitment to the organization by how much they, too, deny themselves work-life separation and boundaries.
That sounds really familiar! While this is true for so many of us in the sector, we couldn’t help but think about how this concept of self-sacrifice may unfortunately be particularly acute for women, who may have expectations of the need to work harder to attain leadership positions, not only in the nonprofit sector, but everywhere.
One of the things we love about this book is how Beth and Aliza cite so many practical examples of organizations supporting employee and team health and well being. These real life stories provide inspiration for what you might address at your organization, and a template for your action, too. We’re honored (and proud!) that Beth and Aliza included See3’s HR and dog policy as an example of how organizations can change policies that impact quality-of-life for everyone working there.
See3, a digital agency working with nonprofits, put several policies in place that promote well-being and that affect the way its staff works and manages work-life issues. The agency doesn’t count sick days or personal days, and it offers paid maternity and paternity leave policies, flexible schedule options, and work-from-home flexibility. See3 also has an office policy baked right into its employee handbook that allows employees to bring their dogs to work.
We were also mentioned for our physical movement breaks as a way to reduce stress and promote health:
“Our team regularly breaks around 2:00 in the afternoon to do a 10-minute workout,” says Bridgett Colling from the marketing agency See3. “We find workouts on YouTube or Pinterest and do them as a group using yoga mats we keep in the office. Taking some time to step away from my desk and get my blood pumping usually gives me a much greater energy boost than another cup of coffee or something filled with sugar.”
While some of this attentiveness to culture and health has come from our company’s leadership, a lot of it has grown out of listening to our staff and empowering people to take the initiative to shape our company culture. Bridgett initiated the 10-minute yoga and by doing it in the common spaces and inviting others to join her, she has made a significant contribution to both the health of the participants and the culture of our company overall.
Our vision boards hanging on the walls of our office integrate productivity, professional learning and health and wellness goals. By making all of these goals explicit, our staff is better able to support each other and celebrate our achievements.
Stopping Burnout Before it Starts
In The Happy Healthy Nonprofit, Beth and Aliza help readers understand what causes burnout and why self-care is critical for your nonprofit’s success. This book is a must read for nonprofit CEOs and managers, as well as anyone in this profession who wants to be happy and successful over the long term of their career.
The self-care process they outline starts with basics — sleep, nutrition and exercise — but moves on to care that relate directly to job stress, such as mindfulness and gratitude. At See3, we have a tradition (based on research that suggested gratitude is a key ingredient to happiness) of including something we are grateful for in our staff-wide daily email check-in, such as support from a team member or spouse, for family health, or for a comical cat video. The Happy Healthy Nonprofit also includes powerful self-assessment tools to help you define your own challenges with self-care as a way to begin addressing them personally and across your organization.
What we particularly love about this book is that it gives individuals the tools for their own self-care, without victimizing those who are feeling "less than optimally healthy”. We can’t solve this issue without changes to our organizations — and Beth and Aliza don’t let the organization off the hook. Organizational structures and policies have perhaps the greatest impact on employees’ ability to work with less stress and avoid burnout. The book gives very clear examples and guidance for organizations looking to promote a healthy culture.
Thanks to Beth for sharing an advance copy with us. For months we’ve been excited for this book’s release, and it meets all of our very high expectations. Order a copy for yourself, and while you’re at it, consider ordering an extra to give as a gift to your leadership or coworkers as well. While health may start with yourself, a happy, healthy nonprofit is good for everyone.
The Happy Healthy Nonprofit is available everywhere books are sold. You can buy it here on Amazon.
Editors note: We often use this blog to highlight the wisdom and experience of those within our network. Isti Bardos is the Communications Director at Temple Israel in Memphis. On a recent webinar he was giving great advice to those getting started on Instagram, and we asked him to share some tips that make his Instagram efforts successful.
A picture is worth…Yup. We all know.
I would argue, however, that pictures – and videos – are worth much more than words, 1,000 or not. Imagery evokes feelings, creates empathy and fosters meaningful, lasting relationships. Isn’t that what our work in congregations is all about: building community and lasting relationships?
By sharing highlights and snippets of everyday life through Instagram, you are illustrating how your congregation is a community of meaning and purpose, not only an institution with "tushes in seats". While some people may feel nervous about showing photos of people in your congregation, Instagram (and the sharing culture) is happening with or without you. Be thoughtful about releases in your membership and registration materials (and avoid those who don't want their photos shared), but also recognize that many of the ever-so-coveted 20s/30s demographic are prolifically sharing their photos (and wanting to see those of others). A full 90% of those using Instagram are 35 or younger (data as of June, 2015 -- older demographics are beginning to flock to Instagram too).
In addition to engaging the younger demographic, Instagram is a worthy social media platform because
1) It's in your congregation’s best interests to put your best face – literally and figuratively -- out there!
2) Participating in Instagram a way to “show off” your congregation.
3) It's good to show a wide array of smiling faces, activities, and slices of life of your congregation!
4) By using Instagram, your congregation will be perceived as hip and modern, on top of the newest technologies.
Two questions people often ask are:
1) What should we post?
2) How often should we post?
To me, the answers are the same: Post good content when you have it. But make a point of integrating great photography (on your phone!) into your routine so you have content at least a couple times a week.
If you don’t know where to start, start with a #ShabbatShalom message every Friday afternoon. (That # symbol, in today’s social media vernacular, is a hashtag. Hashtags allow you to search for items. For example, if you used the hashtag #ShabbatShalom, you would see only photos/videos from around the world that have that hashtag associated with it, which is pretty cool.)
So, simply take a photo of a smiling child at religious school. While the culture of Instagram is to post photos immediately after they are taken, you can also have some "timeless" images that can be saved for a Friday post. With these #ShabbatShalom postings, you will be sharing a photo at least once a week!
Another example which could guarantee another weekly post, is #tbt. #tbt stands for “throwback Thursday.” It’s simply an easy way for you to post a video or photo of something that happened in the past, whether it was a year or 100 years ago. This could be a childhood photo of your rabbi, or a memorable event in your congregation's past, like this picture from our congregation's 2008 trip to Israel.
So between #ShabbatShalom and #tbt, you already have guaranteed yourself at least two compelling Instagram posts a week, which a great start!
But you have an endless supply of other good, compelling content -- here are some ideas and examples from our congregation:
• women’s and men’s clubs
• beautiful facilities/campus
• religious/Hebrew school tutors/teachers
• different segments of your congregation
• creative snapshots of congregational life
• and, of course, smiling children
By the way, it’s important to use photo of people who are smiling, because smiling… is a cause of happy feelings! …is contagious! …can make you healthier! …can be a predictor of how long you’ll live! But also remember that Instagram's community values really great photography, including abstract shots of mundane things, insights into everyday moments, bold color and gorgeous patterns. Like this photo of Hamentashen from OU Hillel.
Also, there is a sense of immediacy and connectivity with Instagram. For example, what is more interesting and interactive: reading – a month after the fact in a black and white newsletter – the sentence “Students watched a science demonstration involving Mentos and Diet Coke” or watching a 10-second video clip of a “volcano” erupting a few minutes after the event took place – and then having the ability to provide immediate feedback?
Posting photos and videos to Instagram is less about the information and more about making emotional connections. As people scroll through their Instagram feed, make sure that your congregation has a presence! Scroll through your Instagram feed periodically to see the "bigger picture" that new followers might find if they look at everything you've posted recently.
If your congregation doesn’t use Instagram, start using it today. If you have an Instagram account, step your game up! After all, if your congregation REALLY IS a vibrant, warm and welcoming congregational family, then SHOW IT!
Have you been to the Nonprofit Technology Conference? No? Oh boy, you've gotta come. It's a gathering of about 2000 of the country's most interesting do-gooders who use technology in any part of their work -- from marketing and communications, to fundraising, to data management, and innovative leadership for cutting edge organizations.
Each year, we gather the Jews at NTCjews -- many who work for Jewish organizations, and some who are Jewish and work for other organizations. We share knowledge and experience, learn together, eat together and strengthen our network for support and inspiration year around. We love bringing people from Jewish organizations here to learn about the best of what's happening across the nonprofit field.
This year NTC is March 23-25, 2016 in San Jose, California. You should come! If you're interested in learning more about what we're doing there (learning sessions, networking, dinner together, Purim celebration) drop your name and email in the form below so we can make sure to keep you updated.
More info on the conference is here: http://www.nten.org/ntc/
Get a little insight into why we love this conference:
Share your info below and we'll keep you posted on NTCjews plans and events!
Uber and AirBNB are proving the power and opportunity of a bottom-up model of organizing. Empowered with technology, their own creativity and initiative, people today are less reliant on institutions than ever to achieve their own needs. At the same time, smart platforms are critical for activating their curiosity and motivation.
So too in the Jewish community. We are beginning to see the shift in the market, and the emergence of new platforms to help people self-organize and build Jewish community and meaning. While this brave new world may feel scary to organizational leaders, in my book it's a very healthy sign. The question is, how are we as a field adapting to this new "economy"?
The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation and Steven Price have been following these trends, and are re-energizing a very traditional idea: The Book Club. Together, we've been asking ourselves, "How can we get more people developing deeper, more meaningful relationships, building Jewish community, and feeding their intellectual and spiritual curiosities together?"
Our research showed that the vast majority of people who aren’t currently in a book club, Rosh Chodesh group or another similar club are overwhelmingly interested in being part of such an experience. Their primary reason for not yet being in a club? No one has invited them.
Thus, we've designed Gather to find and empower initiators to start new groups, and invite others to join them. It doesn’t mean they have to be the ongoing leader — they are simply the initiator. There's no long term commitment, no expectations of what your group will be, no prescribed content. But we do have ideas, suggestions, discussion guides, and a concierge ready to help answer any questions. Gather is a platform to help those curious about Jewish learning and community to launch new group (with friends, acquaintances, family and/or new contacts) to build and strengthen relationships, and to engage in discussion around Jewish content and values.
We're just launching our beta phase, and we're inviting (see -- get the theme here?) members of the Darim network to take it for a spin. You can start a new Gathering yourself, and/or you can invite your own network to start their own groups. Gather is a tool that can help places like synagogues and schools become more connected (and educated and engaged) communities, so it's an easy and powerful platform to help organizations dip their toe into the self-organizing, platform model that is such a powerful approach in today's culture.
Anyone can start a club, and any community can have multiple. For example, a dad with kids in the early childhood program might want to start a dads club, or maybe families with post-b’nai mitzvah teens might want to start a parent/child social justice book club. Maybe 20-somethings want to get together to cook out of the Jerusalem and Zahav cookbooks, or members of your LGBTQ community want to get together more regularly in addition to Pride Shabbat.
Consider this your invitation -- we would love for you to consider using Gather to engage with and support your community, and if you’re interested, help you plan the next steps. If you want to share with your community, we’re happy to create customized pages that promote the content that aligns most closely with your mission and goals, and the interests of your audiences (e.g. culture, cooking, music, Jewish classics like Buber and Heschel, etc.), and give you a link which will track participation from your network (and we're happy to share data with you).
Ultimately, we hope that these initiators become the leaders in your own community, and help to engage their peers in your mission and programs too.
We know the power of an invitation is profound. Who will you invite?
Want to take it for a spin? Click here to see how simple it is to start your own Gathering. Want to invite your own community or network to initiate Gatherings? Feel free! If you want your own link to track adoption, just drop Elyse Kort, Gather Project Director, a note.
“We need to be reaching more people.” The constant refrain we hear from organizations that believe they have something valuable that the world should be paying more attention to. It’s true. But we’re living in an attention economy, where everyone is so flooded with messages, content and noise that all we want to do is filter it out.
Yes, we need to be reaching more people. But to do that, we need strategies to break through the clutter and penetrate people’s eyes, ears, hearts and minds.
It’s important to understand three different approaches to get seen and heard, and then to determine what mix is going to help you achieve your goals. The trifecta: owned, earned, and paid media.
Owned Media: Your House, Your Rules
Owned media includes the channels you have created, and the content that you own. This might be content on your website and your blog. It also includes your Facebook page, YouTube channel, Twitter accounts and other social media channels. A great approach to owned media requires creating strong content and having a strong social strategy to back is up and leverage the time you put into creating that content. If you’re looking to mature your owned content strategy, read up on the practices of “content marketing” and “multi-channel strategies."
Paid Media: Spending Smart
Paid media is, simply, media exposure you pay for. Google AdWords, Facebook advertising, SEO campaigns and other opportunities to pay to get your content showing up in more places. Smart paid media is surgical in its focus – you don’t want to be paying for Google to serve up your ad to the wrong populations – and the content itself needs to have compelling calls to action to even get audiences to engage.
While “digital marketing” and “paid media” used to be synonymous, they are no longer. Paid media may still have its place, but in today’s attention economy, people are much more likely to listen to the recommendations of their friends and to allocate their attention to brands they trust and already have a relationship with in some way.
Earned Media: Network Amplification
Between owned, earned and paid, I would argue that earned media is the most valuable of all. Earned media is when other people, channels and sometimes even brands are talking about you and/or sharing your work and messages. Hopefully these mentions are good. But a bad Yelp review, for example, is also “earned media”. Earned media often is a mention or review of your work, but it can also look like an interview on someone’s blog or a guest blog post where you’re work appears on someone else’s blog.
Earned media is related to other forms of media. When someone shares or amplifies your content on Facebook or posts a link to your blog on Twitter it’s because you did a good job with your owned media. You may use paid media to increase exposure which then helps people pick up on it and share it, tipping into the earned media category.
The benefit of earned media is that it piggybacks your brand on the brand equity of the person or brand that’s sharing it. The hard part of earned media is that you have to earn it. You have less control than owned media (where you create and manage it) or paid media (where you decide what’s worth paying for an how much). What you give up in control however, you gain in other ways, as earned media has greater trustworthiness and authenticity, and can extend to entirely new audiences you otherwise would never be able to reach.
How to Increase Earned Media Coverage of Your Organization
Any smart content strategy includes owned, paid and earned media. I find, however, that many organizations neglect to pay enough attention to earned media, or to really work for it. Some earned media happens by good old fashion luck, but there’s much you can do to cultivate opportunities.
Here are 6 things you can do to increase earned media coverage of your organization:
Identify the brands, people and influencers whose channels would be valuable to you. It might be about scale, relevance, audience, or adding the character of their brand to yours.
Build relationships with them. Follow them on Twitter, share their content, comment in their channels to add value for them and their audiences.
Listen and learn what’s authentic to their audience. Notice where they are offering earned media to others (mentions of other projects, guest blog posts, what they retweet and share). You need to fit into their culture and brand identity – having insight will help you thread that needle.
Create content worth sharing. It should be valuable, and add to the social capital of those whom you want to share it. It can be really useful or really funny. Top 10 lists, infographics and well produced videos travel well too. Don’t forget to include share buttons on your owned media to make it easy for people to share it!
Use content creation as an engagement strategy. When you’ve told a story or thanked someone in your content, a natural next step is to let them know through social media, which will likely encourage them to share it.
- Use your relationships with others to find guest blogging opportunities (and offer them in return as well). Make sure to position yourself as adding value to their community, not only trying to self promote. Do a good job and you’ll likely be invited back.
How else have you earned your earned media? What people, channels or brands have given you an important boost?
This post is cross posted on the See3 Communications blog.
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