Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Nonprofit What If: The Snake in the Water

For reasons unknown, we have a lot of snakes near our house. Over the years, we managed to pull three out of the house. So it came as no surprise the other day that when I climbed into the swimming pool that a skinny but three-foot long snake was already enjoying the water. I exited the pool more rapidly than I entered it.

Before going to get my family members to help with “Remove the Snake Adventure Number 4.” I walked along the edge of the pool toward the deep end to study him and rolled my eyes. It wasn’t a snake at all, but a bent green tomato stake from our grow box, gently undulating in the slightly turbid water.

I returned to the pool and stepped over to remove the stake. But as I swam closer, and the water moved, my eyes told me it was indeed a snake. With trepidation, and feeling a bit like Moses, I reached out and forced myself to grab the creature by its head, only to have it transform as I lifted it out of the water--from snake to bent stick.

In the last blog, I introduced the “game” of Nonprofit What If. You will remember the simple rules. Take a concept from elsewhere and consider how you can apply it at your nonprofit for fun, profit and mission enhancement. Consider the benefits. If you are inspired, find others who are using the model to learn more.

To execute this round of Nonprofit What If, take out a piece of paper and jot down fear areas. Everyone has some snakes in or around their organization. What form do yours take? Have you been avoiding entering the water because of a fear of what MIGHT be there? Is it possible that by taking a look at them, you will find that the water is not filled with venomous creatures --but harmless ones that only appear dangerous? Take a moment to look at your fears. For instance, why haven’t you pursued getting a role on the board nominating committee? Or, asking a donor why they no longer fund your organization? Or, the gruff board member what he or she would really like to accomplish with their leadership?

To continue Nonprofit What If, next to the fear listed, jot down the benefits of removing it from your life. If the benefits outweigh the fear, schedule a time to learn how to remove the snakes or stakes. Start with some research about how others have solved the challenge.

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