Prioritizing Teamwork Within Your Nonprofit


Putting your day-to-day priorities in order from most important to least as a nonprofit manager is a hard task. Having to split your time between ensuring you’re successfully raising funds, fulfilling the mission of your nonprofit, ensuring you’re managing a happy and productive team can seem daunting at times. What if you could do a little less worrying about the productivity of your team and spend a little more time strategizing on how to best fulfill your organization’s mission?

Through team-building initiatives and programs, nonprofit leaders can develop high performing teams committed to your mission — and to each other. Build teamwork and camaraderie in the work place by following these four tips:

1. Celebrate Good Times

When something goes wrong, it’s natural to pull back and evaluate how to solve the problem. But, what if something goes right? Have you been brushing off your team’s successes with a simple “good job” and then moving onto the next project? Taking the time to celebrate your teams achievements will create a positive atmosphere, and have your team striving to reach goals and, ultimately, their celebrations.

Create humorous office trophies that get passed around from week to week to whomever raised the most funds during that time period. Decorate the office space of the team member who most embodied your organization’s mission for the month. You can also have luncheons when achieving important milestones that bring your team together with the people whom your organization helps. This will show your team who they’re working so hard for, and encourage them to continue their hard work.

2. Be Part of Your Team

Just because you’re the leader, doesn’t mean you are excluded from team building activities and exercises. Your team members should see you as one of them, and not someone up on a management pedestal. They should not be intimidated by your title. They should feel that they can come to you with any questions, comments, or concerns and that you’ll take them seriously and act upon their issues accordingly.

It’s also important to build strong one-on-one relationships with each team member. Learning about each person both professionally and personally can help you bond with them on a deeper level and develop personal strategies to help them achieve their goals. This will also allow you to create teams with members whose personalities compliment each other. A strategically crafted team will help you avoid dealing with cliques or harmful competition.

3. Build Teams Through Building

After getting to know your team members, figure out where your team is lacking and invest in a professional team building workshop or activity. Instead of just telling someone that they need to work on their communication skills, these workshops show them where they’re lacking, and provide a way to help them develop into a stronger communicator. Workshops that involve improv or role playing are one of many great ways to help team members learn how to communicate effectively.

If you want your activity to be organization or mission focused without being completely mission centric, think about doing something outside of the box that still relates back to your nonprofit. Miki Markovich of Demand Media gives a great example. If your nonprofit is child-centered, purchasing unassembled bicycles and have teams compete in a race-to-build challenge will help your team focus on good communication, as well as working together to reach a common goal. In the end, all of the teams will have a strong sense of accomplishment whether they won or lost because all of the bicycles support your nonprofit’s mission.

4. Facilitate Collaboration

Sometimes there are just too many obstacles in the way for team members to collaborate effectively. Without good collaboration, there are greater chances for miscommunications, misunderstandings, and missed opportunities between team members and your organization. This can lead to a frustrated team, and low moral in the office.

Investing in software programs like MortarStone will help your nonprofit’s team members stay on the same page. With tools like the GenD, or Generosity Development, your team will be able to set up triggers to alert other members upon completion of a task. Creating ease in communication between team members will allow them to collaborate more easily and work together more efficiently.

Allocating time to create well-oiled, efficient, effective teams will pay off in the long run. As a nonprofit manager, you’ll be able to focus more on ensuring your organization stays on track fulfilling goals and less on how your teams are working together. You’ll have people under you who are producing excellent work together because they have an enjoyable, positive environment to work in. What are some ways you’ve worked to prioritize teamwork in the work place? Have they been successful? Let us know via Twitter @MortarStone or Facebook at MortarStone!

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