For anyone even tangentially involved in the world of nonprofits, doing more with less has probably been a common motif throughout your experience. To be fair, there’s nothing wrong with efficiency and pursuing less wasteful and more sustainable operations. However, there’s a point at which this ethos can start to produce diminishing returns — a point that has unfortunately become the norm for many of the organizations operating today. Indeed, our sector isn’t shy about handicapping its personnel with limited resources and opportunities for growth, which can be problematic as we aspire to overcome today’s most complex and critical social challenges. The resulting turnover and lost productivity can be detrimental to both the morale and long-term success of organizations already fighting an uphill battle.
Too many of us encounter this problem and simply let it lie. We convince ourselves that this is how it has always been and always will be. We take solace in the idea that we’re working toward a cause greater than ourselves. This is a noble but self-fulfilling outlook. If we truly want to drive change in the issues about which we care, we must concern ourselves with how prepared we are to do so. Without the proper training or organizational capacity, even the most passionate nonprofit professionals and organizations will be left running in place.
This is why the Cornerstone OnDemand Foundation established NonprofitReady.org, a free online learning portal that contains hundreds of professional development resources across the nonprofit sector’s primary job families, including Finance, Development, Management and Marketing. NonprofitReady.org is open and available to all nonprofit professionals and volunteers, with an ever-increasing library of content curated from a diverse group of nonprofit thought leaders and professional development providers. As part of the team behind NonprofitReady.org, I’m proud of the growth opportunities that it provides to professionals at all stages of their career.
I also realize however, that our work with NonprofitReady.org is really only a small part of the broader conversation about how to better invest in our sector’s workforce. There are many factors that contribute to the limitations we see in nonprofit capacity, beginning with some funders’ reluctance to see their dollars being applied to the “overhead” of the organization. Other writers have already covered this topic countless times, so I won’t waste words here repeating what’s already been said. What I will do, however, is encourage you to become a champion for your career development and refuse to be content with your professional status quo. With so many resources now at your fingertips online, the time is now to invest in your own professional development. Pursue learning opportunities, improve your skills, and demonstrate the value that “overhead” can bring to your nonprofit’s mission.
As manager of the Nonprofit Empowerment Program, Justin Wedell is responsible for maintaining and supporting the Foundation’s global portfolio of capacity-building services, including the HR Pro Bono Corps and Gift of Learning.
Previously, Justin was a project manager and analyst for SBE, a leading hospitality company, implementing strategic corporate initiatives to streamline processes and build brand equity within all company verticals across California, Florida, and Nevada. Prior to joining SBE, Justin served with Teach for America, an organization dedicated to closing the academic achievement gap within the nation’s most at-risk communities, working to eliminate educational inequity and provide children with a clearer path to graduation and opportunities for higher learning.
Justin holds a BA in Political Science from the University of California, Los Angeles.
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