The Nonprofit Manifesto for Generation Y Leaders

USC Price MPA

Attributes of Generation Y will shape the nonprofit sector as oldest members of the generation turn 30 and take up more powerful positions in organizations. Just for fun, I’ve combined some of my generation’s stereotypical characteristics to create a little manifesto for generation Y nonprofit leaders. I present (trumpets, please):

1. Thou shalt question perceived sector constraints and manage according to what is best for my organization

I will manage my organization with an eye for each unique situation, and I will not back down when perceived sector constraints stand in the way of progress in achieving a social mission. I will channel the entrepreneurial spirit of my generation and nontraditional leadership skills in order to come up with creative solutions. I will consider accepting high administrative costs if it will bring me better leaders and that is what I need. I will produce products and sell them to support a mission. I will employ business best practices suitable for my situation. Above all, I will ask, “Why not?”

 

2. Thou shalt manage with professionalism but understand the importance of soft skills

I will lead with compassion, kindness, professionalism and a strong sense of morality. I will not let my feelings jeopardize what is best for the organization or let things slide for employees just because it is a nonprofit organization. I understand the growing importance of soft skills. I will combine hard and soft skills to cultivate a culture of both compassion and professionalism.

 

3. We shall remain the sector of interpersonal relationships under my watch

I will share my organization’s mission and the captivating stories of the communities I serve. I am civic-minded and social, and will create and develop personal relationships with individuals who share the desire to improve these communities. I will be driven, passionate, imaginative, hopeful, and ambitious within reason.  My demonstration of this sincerity will contribute to the fire of the sector as a whole.

 

4. Thou shalt realize that I do not own social change

My generation understands that what matters is getting the job done in achieving a social mission. My organization and even the nonprofit sector itself does not own social change. When I do contribute to change, I understand that often credit belongs not only to myself, but to employees, donors, volunteers, corporations, and often entire communities. Often, the private and public sector are just as capable of serving social missions as the nonprofit sector, and can effectively evoke positive change. For me and my generation, making a difference is important, regardless of sector.

 

5. I am not better than anyone else because I am motivated by public service.

I derive utility by helping others. I understand that some individuals do not share the same primary motivation, and I respect this. Many individuals working in the private sector do, indeed, want to help others, and they will become some of my organization’s most valuable donors and terrific friends.

 

6. Thou shalt always be brainstorming

I will be constantly thinking of ways to make my organization more efficient and brainstorming innovative ideas. I understand that brainstorming may produce many unwise ideas that I shall not act upon, but great possibilities arise from brainstorming as well. I will read blogs, utilize the internet, and engage my networks in coming up with creative solutions to problems facing my nonprofit organization. I will utilize my spirit of collaboration to work with others to come up with new ideas.

 

7. Thou shalt expect employees to take time to rest

The nonprofit sector is strongly associated with burnout, but I will change this because I understand the importance of work-life balance. Giving employees adequate rest, reward, and relaxation will make them happier and clear their minds so that they may produce higher quality ideas. Allocating time for my personal life makes me a better, happier leader and I understand and expect that employees need this time as well. I will be sensitive to burnout.

 

8. Thou shalt bring an understanding of social media to the table

I am part of the first generation raised with computers, and I understand the importance of generally keeping up with technological advances. Social media and online marketing skills are of growing importance in nonprofit organizations in this day and age. Staff and board members can generally look to me for guidance in understanding social media.

 

9. Thou shalt seek mentors in every organization

I believe that older employees have valuable wisdom to share, and I will actively seek their guidance. Especially in nonprofit organizations, I count on older employees to pass along the culture and unspoken ideals upon which the organization was founded. I respect this culture, and I will handle it with care– even if it must be transformed for the good of the organization. I believe that there is much to be learned from older employees and I am appreciative of their mentorship.

 

10. Thou shalt understand that the world is always changing and that sector practices must evolve according to those changes

I understand that working in the nonprofit sector is not easy.  There will be ups and downs in every organization and throughout the sector. Some predict that we will face a severe 2016 leadership deficit. Others predict that increasing CEO salaries will bring better leaders to the sector. Whatever the future brings, I will summon my talents to tackle problems facing not only my organization, but the sector as a whole.

Do you agree, disagree, have points to add, or just want to give your seal of approval? Please share in the comment section!

 

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Posted on by colleendilen in Generation Y, Leadership, Nonprofits, Public Service Motivation, Social Change 8 Comments

About the author

colleendilen

MPA. Chief Market Engagement Officer at IMPACTS Research & Development. Nonprofit marketer, Generation Y museum, zoo & aquarium writer/speaker, web engagement geek, data nerd, marathoner, nomad, herbivore

8 Responses to The Nonprofit Manifesto for Generation Y Leaders

  1. Pingback: Daily Perspective: Don’t Give Up Trying Links | Rosetta Thurman

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  3. Brigid

    Hey Colleen, I like your manifesto. I see one thing not covered here: nonprofit leaders should make financial contributions to their causes. There’s quite a bit of thought that if my job is in a nonprofit, that’s contribution enough, but that won’t fly with Board members (besides the fact that it’s hypocritical. And I’ve totally made this arguments myself in the past, so the first person to admit being hypocritical is me). Most older nonprofit folks get this, but with cause-marketing and social media oriented events, I worry Gen Yers are thinking all they need to do to make change is click around the internet and buy party tickets and ipods instead of actually giving cash.

     
  4. colleendilen

    Hi Brigid,

    Thanks so much for your comment and for sharing your thoughts and experience!

    I agree that social media is powerful and changing/contributing to the sector, but we need to be wary of relying too heavily on it because we risk overlooking more tangible things that are required in organizations (like individuals giving cash– as you mention).

     
  5. Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach

    Very interesting post. Love your points especially on soft skills and accepting mentoring. I did chuckle a bit when you hinted that people who are 30 are “older”.
    There is one tip I would add to your manifesto for success in the 21st century:
    “I will embrace diversity and grow from working with different cultural influences.”
    Even in non-profits, global diversity will come at you when you least expect it. Inter-cultural training will be of great value as you progress through your careers.

    Here’s two of my posts on it:
    http://katenasser.com/respect-the-differences-and-find-the-fit-for-team-success/

    http://katenasser.com/the-best-csrs-get-inter-cultural-training-canada-usa/

    Warmest wishes and thanks for sharing this post. I will RT it on Twitter for sure.
    Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach

     
  6. colleendilen

    Hi Kate,

    Thanks for sharing those links and for the comment. I think those embracing diversity is a great addition to the manifesto!

    I chuckled too when I read your comment and realized that it sounds like I’m calling 30 old! I had meant that the oldest of Generation Y (born in the early 80s) are now 30– or turning 30– and taking up more powerful positions in organizations. I’m getting there very quickly myself, so I hope 30 isn’t considered “older”! :)

     
  7. Kristen (@KristenEJ)

    Great advice, especially about how the public and private sectors come into play. Having dabbled in all three sectors and planning on doing more, I think it’s important we realize that there are some cases where organizations have to operate as for-profit and not all are out to get us(just like not all 501c3′s are doing public good and social change.)

     
  8. Sasha

    Colleen – one more thing: thou shalt take seriously the question of raising money.

    More thoughts here in the Nonprofit CEO Manifesto:
    http://sashadichter.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/manifesto-in-defense-of-raising-money_sasha1.pdf

     

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