For 7 years I led a nonprofit. The organization provided men and women parenting programs, GED study support, clothes for their children, referrals, resources, free counseling, mentor programs and support.
I led a small nonprofit. Small meaning we operated on a budget less than $100,000 a year. When you operate with that kind of budget you learn to be very creative. I used my creativity to come up with unique solutions to meeting client needs, managing the office, and fundraising.
It was a dream job. I was given carte blanche. I had ideas, and backed them up with thorough research, and my board of directors said yes to my ideas. This led us to:
- Move 3 times. Better locations came up. Each location offered a better fit for our services. Each move required me to be very creative with things like decorating on a budget, making office spaces fit our needs, and marketing on a budget.
- Marketing efforts. Talk about a challenge. There are creative ways to market on a very small budget. I learned to take advantage of free newspaper articles, participate in joint ventures that increased our exposure, and I became friends with social media.
- Thrift Store. I spent 6 months researching how to open a nonprofit thrift store. The board agreed to the idea and 6 months later we opened the store. We had no money for fixtures or decor, so the whole store became a Pinterest project. Donors gave us unique items and the store became a beautiful vintage looking thrift store. A store is a neat way to raise extra dollars for the nonprofit, and give donors a break from fundraising events.
There are endless ways to use your creativity in a nonprofit. I found unique ways to make presentation folders on a budget, learned new programs so that I could produce newsletters in house, and developed a training curriculum.
Nonprofits need more creatives. If you are looking for a meaningful way to share your talent think about volunteering at a nonprofit organization. Simply call the organization you are interested in, and meet a staff member to get to know the organization. As you get to know them you can figure out what would help them and then present your ideas.
If you volunteer your skills you can put this on your resume. Perhaps you want to enter a new profession, and don’t have the experience needed for that career. You can gain experience by using your skills at a nonprofit. This will give you experience, and beef up your resume.
I have read so many stories about people who found their career path accidentally. It wasn’t something they were looking for. In fact that’s how I ended up leading a nonprofit for 7 years. I volunteered. The more I volunteered the more involved I got. I eventually did an internship at the nonprofit to complete a requirement for my college degree. At the end of my internship I was asked to be the executive director of the organization.
Experiences like these can change our lives. They will stimulate creativity, and give us the opportunity to give back. I hope you will consider using your skills and talents to help a nonprofit. Create–for a good cause, and impact the lives of people in your part of the world.