When I was a kid, the winning team took home the trophy, and the MVP got the medal. That was that. When my kids were growing up, everyone got a trophy. There was no MVP because they all succeeded and did their best. I see the value of both, especially when you’re talking about young children. There should never be losers when you work in the nonprofit sector, especially with kids, because all kids win when everyone gets the trophy. Here’s why.
This past summer, our organization formed a strategic alliance with another successful nonprofit to complete a K-12 pipeline and make us both stronger. There are more than two winners here. The number of students we serve increased exponentially along with this merger, and they are the ones who benefit the most.
Competition is great for business, and it’s great for sports. It keeps us motivated to grow and improve our product, our service, and ourselves as we train for the big race or game. But in the nonprofit world, where do-gooders live, competition can have a negative impact. Too often, we are competing for the same funding sources, volunteers, employees, board members, recognition, and other opportunities. What if we combined forces to create a winning scenario for all? What if we all got the trophy?
Getting the trophy doesn’t mean you have to go through a merger like we did. Small wins are just as impactful. Look around your community. Are there other nonprofits with similar missions? Could you partner on a grant or program? Are there opportunities to support each other’s fundraisers? The Charleston Marathon is our annual fundraiser. Every January, we host the race in downtown Charleston. There are many opportunities for schools and community groups to volunteer or run together to support our arts education programs. Every year, groups from other local nonprofits come out to support us. It feels good. They earn stipends for their programs, and we get their time and talent. No losers there.
It’s easy to strategize. Start with the organizations you see the most at events around town. Think about the outreach events you participate in. Do you see the same groups every year? Those are your target groups. Invite them to coffee and see what transpires. Who knows, one day you may become one organization.
Never before in the history of the world have we seen so much collaboration. Remote work is on the rise, so it’s easier than ever to collaborate across town or even across your state.
Be strategic and intentional. There should be no losers when we’re all serving children.
Start pulling that team together because, YES, everyone should get a trophy.
For breakfast, I had Coffee with date syrup and avocado toast.