By Marie Palacios

This morning as I was rushing to work I ended up behind not one but THREE school buses.  

Seriously? How is that even possible on an eight-minute commute?

I found myself tapping impatiently on the steering wheel each time the bus rolled to a very slow stop and opened its doors to the small huddle of shivering students.  Some of those students walked as if the winter air had frozen their legs in place and they appeared to be in no rush to get anywhere.

The clock reminded me that I was going to be late for my staff meeting and it was an important one

Wait….

The irony caught up with me. My life’s work right now is focused on making our community a better place for families, yet here I was getting frustrated with the very busing system that makes it possible for children access an education.  Without those inconveniently slow bus stops, our community could miss out on thousands of future leaders.

I took a deep breath and realized that life is full of inconvenient moments that are in fact critical steps on the path to success.

Every morning when I walk into my office I remember how many dollars I must raise to keep the lights on, programs running, and future dreams possible.
It’s easy to get motivated to tackle a grant that’s potentially worth a million dollars, but what about all those SMALL, TIME CONSUMING, inconvenient tasks that fill my days?

For those of you wondering…this would be called DEVELOPMENT WORK in our nonprofit field!

The HOURS working with staff on strategic planning, establishing goals and objectives, and fighting non-cooperative excel spreadsheets so that we can track data…

Acknowledging small donations with receipts and thank you cards, phone calls to thank a donor that take 45 minutes instead of the 3 minutes one expected.

All of these “inconvenient tasks” are in fact the purest form of development work.  We are a society that seeks instant gratification. However, we forget that children spend 13 years in elementary, middle, and high school simply so they can walk across the stage, accept a diploma and then move onto even more years of schooling or professional development.  Yet students continue to wait at bus stops, plug through homework and exams, and create those all impressive science project displays. They know that they must do those things today and do them well if they want to make the grades they need to accomplish their dreams in the future.

Why should our professional endeavors be any different?

I challenge each of you who are struggling with your nonprofit development goals to take a deep breath, step back, and evaluate:

1. Does this task allow me to appreciate a generous person for their contribution of time, talent, or treasure?
2. Does it open a door now or in the future?
3. Does it connect me with individuals who share my passion/vision?
4. Does it generate interest or impact?
5.  Does it give credibility to the work we do/our mission?

I get it. We all wear a million hats in the nonprofit world and we are so busy rushing on to the next big thing that it is easy to cut corners.

Just remember….

This is the very moment that we should remember that the little things are what make the big things possible.

Keep growing for good!

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