Monday, February 29, 2016

Tales From A Nonprofit Director

Someone once said to me, "Man, you've got it good. Working for a nonprofit must be so much fun."

And it is. But it is not easy. Now, before I go into this long diatribe about how hard my life is and how many hours I put in, please know, I get it. I get that there are a LOT of perks. As with any job, there are pros and cons, but unlike most jobs, my world is a whole lot more fickle and revolves, my dear ones, around you. Yes, you.

I've worked in nonprofits for many, many years. Even in college, my part time jobs were with nonprofits, so that means for 25 years of my life, the whole "serving others" bit has been in my blood. (Outside of that short stint in television, this really is all I know.)

Wherever I work, there is always a mission. Our mission is basically our purpose or service. When I worked for the Girls Scouts, it was to improve the character and empower girls of all ages. When I was with the American Heart Association, it was to encourage people to live longer, healthier lives. When I worked for the Tubman Museum, I worked diligently to educate people about African American art, history and culture, and now, my sweet readers, my job is devoted to acquiring, conserving, interpreting, and exhibiting artifacts reflecting Georgia’s heritage from the antebellum through reconstruction eras. I try to engage and inspire the community by presenting authentic and entertaining educational programs, exhibits, and special events through a wide range of events.

I'm not doing it for me. Heck, I already know this stuff. I'm at the museum more than I am at home. I offer these events, programs, tours for YOU. It's all for you.

I live in a community where showing pride in your city and promoting what is good and just is our raison d'etre. When I got hired, we had a hand full of solid programs and very little movement toward growing and expanding into our community. We needed support. Just like at every other nonprofit I have worked for, I worked hard, with our staff, to create program, events, and pull out little intriguing nuggets to share with our community. The key here was to engage my audience.

That requires creativity, time, and a whole lot of trial and error. We stuffed our program calendar with offerings, and now we offer just about everything under the sun. These fun events take up a majority of mine and the staff's weekend time. It takes months of planning, begging, borrowing, and pleading to make these "little nights out" for you and your loved ones happen. If you don't support the nonprofit, it will be all for naught.

As I sit here, typing this quick blog post out, I'm trying desperately to keep my eyes open. I'm running on antibiotics, pain pills, and about 4 hours sleep. I had some dental work done last week (emergency,) and I had a huge event all day Saturday. I stood at our front door, smiling and chatting it up with hundreds of people. I talked so much on Saturday, that at 3:15, when I wiped my mouth thinking I had a little bit of saliva, realized it was a little blood from the procedure. I left, only to go lay my head down for 30 minutes, then got dressed and headed out to be a celebrity judge for a local college's talent show/musical revue. I got home just before midnight.
I was wiped out.

I came into work today because I knew I had a lot to do... for you. I wanted to make sure the museum got cleaned up from the Saturday event. I wanted to work on ordering more items for a big party I plan to throw in April (Beards, Bourbon, & Bacon) and yet.. I really need to be laying down and healing.

But I can't. I have a party to throw for you.

But the question is... do you support what I do?

I had someone come look at the house for a wedding, and was quickly informed that they did not want (for their reputation,) to be associated with the Civil War. I quickly explained what our house was about... and knowing I am offering this person the lowest rate in town for a wedding, and for them to still sort of wonder...

It's exhausting.

If you say you want a good life for your family and you don't take advantage of what community groups are doing for you - then shame on you. People like me are busting our bottoms to make sure your quality of life is extraordinary. We give everything we have to only have you come up and ask for free tickets or for us to donate something, or to maybe even come to YOUR EVENT. When did you reciprocate the favor?

Next time you pick and choose events to attend, remember, there is a real life human being behind that computer skin who is trying to make your life better. Will you show your appreciation by participating?

Yes, I get to go to a lot of parties and mingle with more important people than the average person knows, but I work a lot of hours. These parties are work. The conversations, the grinning and bearing it when you hear something offensive, the begging for money or collaboration.. it's all there for you to see and take advantage of.

I suppose my hope is, each of you will one day take the time and actually support a few events. Show up to a few activities, and keep living your fantastic life.

1 comment:

to be continued... said...

Your hard work and effort really shows! And this blog nailed it.


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