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Management and Leadership in Nonprofits

Management and Leadership in Nonprofits


HS/EHS Blog: You Are the Best-Kept Secret – NOW STOP IT!

Nov 08, 2017
By: Tammy T. Jelinek

I have a rant. A soap box. A super-sized concern. And I need your help. I often travel to clients to offer internal training or consulting, and I have seen a trend that needs attention. I will go into a gas station, store, or restaurant and mention that I am working with the local Head Star/Early Head Start and…wait for it…wait for it…they have no idea what I am talking about.

Part of me says maybe that is good, meaning they have never needed your services. But really I am sad because all of the amazing work you do is going unnoticed.

You are the best-kept secret in your community, and really—all joking aside—it needs to stop being a secret.

Community members who need your services need to know how to:

  • Find you.
  • Navigate with and through you.
  • Eventually thank you for no longer needing your services.

Community members who refer your services need to know:

  • What you offer.
  • Who you serve.
  • Where you serve.
  • Plus, the best method to be your partner in service.

Community members with time, money, knowledge, skills, abilities, and the desire to help others need to know:

  • What you do.
  • Who you serve.
  • And most important, how they can help you serve, whether they want to:
     Volunteer in a classroom.
     Donate office supplies.
     Write you a check.
     Become a member of your board or policy council.
     Or advocate to others about the good you do.

Even community members who want nothing to do with you—they don’t want to help, they don’t want to hurt—they need to know you too. They need to know:

  • What you do to help the community.
  • WIIFM (what’s in it for me) or, in this case, what’s in it for them.How you impact the economy.
  • How you help people go from surviving to thriving.
  • How you use your resources so efficiently that you spend 85%+ of all funding on providing services.
  • They can benefit you by being aware of the positives in the event a negative happens.

Community decision makers need to know:

  • When they are discussing politics and voting, how you help your community and how much it costs to provide that help.

You’ve read my rant. You know how great the services you provide to your community are, but what do you do now? Share your data and outcomes. Tell your stories and impact. Do it well! Do it often! Do it now!

Okay. My rant is done. I’m off my soap box, and my concerns are (hopefully) alleviated. 

Tammy Jelinek has over 20 years of experience working in and with grant-funded and fee-for-services nonprofit organizations. She has trained nationally in the areas of OMB Uniform Guidance, Head Start/Early Head Start Act and program performance standards, parent/volunteer involvement, and more. And Tammy has a passion for helping programs help the families they serve! Learn more at wipfli.com/ngp.

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Tammy T. Jelinek, MBA
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