How does a small and mighty nonprofit stay strong? sustainable? and resilient?
Let me introduce you to a small, strong and mighty nonprofit: Youth Art for Healing,(YAFH). YAFH’s mission is to bring works of art created by youth into healthcare environments for all to enjoy. Jan Papirmeister, Founder and Executive Director, brings her kindness, heart and energy to this mission every day. The Board of Directors, Jan and a host of partners work diligently to bring healing art to patients and their families in Bethesda, MD and the DC area hospitals.
The good news is YAFH is growing fast. They have momentum. They have been awarded grants. They have received awards for their accomplishments. More teachers, youth and hospitals want to join in this exciting mission. How does a small fast growing nonprofit manage to stay strong and remain sustainable?
Every day, Jan Papirmeister follows dozens of details and juggles multiple balls while she carries YAFH forward. She leverages volunteers to help her but the reality is there are only so many hours in her day. After an intense year of growth, Jan knew she had to adopt more sustainable strategies. This summer, Jan stepped back, analyzed her strengths and began to think about the next chapter of YAFH’s strategic plan.
As part of her strategy, Jan invited one of her lead business development partners, Kristi Tisdale, to participate in a series of strengths based strategic planning sessions. Together they brought their remarkable strengths to the conversations. They quickly learned how Kristi’s strategic thinking strengths could help identify new pathways forward and how Jan’s execution strengths could identify all the steps needed to achieve a goal. They bounced ideas off of each other and discovered that when they leveraged their individual talents, they found new ways to approach the challenges of a fast growing nonprofit.
Jan and Kristi are an example of how a leadership team, no matter how small, can be very strategic about leveraging talents. Each woman leveraged her top five strengths to examine opportunities for advancement, program delivery, and social media. They walked away with a series of action steps that aligned with their strengths. Ultimately, the goal is more financial support and opportunities for youth artists to create healing art.
“Small and Mighty” nonprofits need strength based strategies. Executive Directors like Jan Papirmeister need to balance their strengths with the strengths of others. The average term of an executive director of a nonprofit is only 3-5 years. However, when a director develops strategic, strengths based, complimentary partnerships there is a greater likelihood of a pathway to personal and organizational sustainability.
We need nonprofits like YAFH to thrive. Executive Directors need your help to build a strengths based team. What talents can you share with a local nonprofit to compliment theExecutive Director?
If you want to learn more about the mission of YAFH, the art work, the passion, and opportunities for you to support young artists, check out this gallery. You will be amazed by the quality of the art and the transformation of the walls in health care facilities.
Let me know what you think about nonprofits and strengths based approaches. Where are you helping out?