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Guest Blog: Confident Leaders Stand Out. Do You?

We are excited to welcome leadership coach, Kathy Archer, to the Volunteer Alberta blog! This is the first of a three-part series on leadership in the nonprofit sector.

You know a confident leader when you see one. Their posture, mannerisms, and voice command your attention. Confident leaders can influence a community (of any size or shape) to act.

Working in a nonprofit or charity, your organization is a community that you can move to action. Increasing your confidence will help you shape a team of devoted followers so you can do meaningful work.

3 reasons why growing your leadership confidence is a good idea

1.  Confidence assists your decision-making

leadership 1Big decisions, like applying for funding, must be made decisively. A leader should not waver on when, how, and who is developing the framework and pulling the proposal together. A confident leader selects and delegates these tasks swiftly and succinctly.

Smaller decisions, in many ways, require even more leadership courage. “Do I spend time cleaning up email or head over to the program site?” Without confident awareness, hiding your head in the sand (a.k.a. cleaning out your inbox) will most certainly not ease any staff challenges that may be going on at the site.

A leader who has developed the confidence to address tough staff issues will make the decisions, such as where to focus their time, with more clarity and courage.

2.  Confidence makes it easier to accept feedback

Leadership is synonymous with personal development. Great leaders emerge because they are brave enough to look at their mistakes and to learn from missteps. Growth starts with the capacity to give your attention to the feedback you receive.

Hearing criticism is uncomfortable. It takes courage to hear other people’s opinions openly. Once you learn that receiving feedback won’t kill you, it gives you the self-assurance to course correct and start the cycle all over again. You will be a bit tougher the next time. You will find more and more that rather than reacting with defensiveness, you respond with curiosity and a desire to learn how to improve.

3.  Confidence reassures your team

leadership 1 bA leader who lacks confidence gives off potent vibes that can scream uncertainty. Shaky, hesitant, and non-committal responses leave employees feeling unsure. Uncertainty breeds apprehension amongst workers leading to gossip, low morale, and general dissatisfaction.

Your team looks up to you. Even when it feels like they spend more time tearing you down, the truth is that they are looking to you to provide the stability and composure they crave.

Your job is to be the brave, valiant leader who courageously moves the program forward. While it may not seem like it some days, your employees want to get behind you. They want to follow you. Take their feedback as an empowering message. They want a strong leader to follow, and by speaking up, they are helping to strengthen you.

Leadership Confidence comes from within

To increase your influence and impact, it is imperative that you develop your confidence. Doing this will assist you to make better decisions, accept and respond to feedback effectively, and allow you to reassure your team. In the face of the challenges nonprofit organizations are facing today, these are keys to growth and prosperity.

In next week’s article, you will learn the two habits you need in order to grow your leadership confidence. The following week we will look at growing confidence in your team.

Remember: Emerging as a confident organization will set you apart from the rest.

 

Kathy is a leadership coach for women who want to strengthen their leadership and find balance in life. She mentors women as they rediscover their purpose, passion, and persistence for life while dealing with office politics, jerk bosses, and the challenges of family life. In her signature program Women with Grit: Leading with Courage & Confidence, Kathy gives her ladies the hope and inspiration they need along with a kick in the pants to make positive change in their lives.

 

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Leadership, Respect, and Innovation – Notes from the Action Generation Residency

Drew Noiles, Volunteer Alberta Learning and Technology Coordinator, attended the Alberta Youth VOLUNTEER! Action Generation Residency in Banff in August, a leadership learning opportunity for young people.

Forest2We live in a world progressively captivated by what it means to truly lead. The leadership residency assembled about 25 of us for a unique, hands-on learning opportunity with the ultimate purpose of developing our individual and collective leadership skills, all while savoring a humbling dose of mountain culture.

Our residency took place at the breathtakingly beautiful Banff Centre. Alliteration aside, it began with a simple introduction, an ice-breaker, and a quote:

“One of the challenges of being a leader is mastering the shift from having others define your goals to being the architect of the organization’s purposes and objectives” (Mary Parker Follett, 1919)

Taped on the wall were group guidelines and reference points on how to get the most out of our leadership residency. One of these guiding messages stood out to me; in a dark blue sharpie it simply stated: Be Fit & Well.

It’s a statement that I have now come to understand to be synonymous with stepping outside of your fears, and allowing yourself to be open and in the moment. There is a very welcomed perspective change – an epiphany if you will – that takes place when everyone in a room begins from a place of equality and respect. This was a delightful transition to which our group was receptive and enthusiastic.

Over the course of the next three and a half days we were fed. We were fed well, and we were fed often. Looking back, having that amount of delectable treats available to you at all times really does enhance the entire experience. Keeping spirits high and eagerness abundant.

There were many topics discussed throughout our stay. Starting with collaboration and coaching, leading into goal setting, and understanding the importance of prototyping. The leadership residency provided us all the opportunity to not only identify challenges, but to address them in a safe space.

The lessons from the leadership residency that I am going to incorporate into my daily work:

  • Listening is something you are accountable for; listening is a responsibility.
  • Fail. We should be encouraged to fail, but to fail fast.  Creativity comes from allowing yourself to make mistakes.
  • The truth: great leaders are needed to shape a better world; and that type of leadership is rooted in the understanding of both wise practices and creative new approaches.

By the end I was left feeling very much a part of a community that inspires one another to take risks, to develop new ideas, and to find solutions for the present and future. Because in the end, that’s what learning is: understanding something you’ve understood before but in a new way.

Drew Noiles
Volunteer Alberta

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Alberta Provincial Budget – What does it mean for nonprofits?

Legislature 2On October 27, the new NDP Alberta Government announced the budget and revealed very few surprises. The NDP election platform is reflected in the Alberta budget.

Volunteer Alberta reflected on the budget and identified a few highlights – we have shared them with our members, and now are sharing them more broadly.

Thousands of Albertans gave their opinions through consultations leading up to Budget Day. Realizing that energy will continue to be the core of our economy, Albertans stated in the consultations that we need to diversify our economy and not remain completely reliant on the energy sector.

The three priorities outlined in the budget are:

  1. Stabilize public services – stabilizing frontline public services including health care, education and social services
  2. Plan a balanced budget
  3. Act on jobs and diversification – stimulating job creation, economic growth and diversification

What does this mean for the nonprofit sector?

The budget reflects the government’s commitment to family and community and services to vulnerable Albertans.

  • It includes a 25 million increase in Family and Community Support Services
  • $50 Million increase to Community Facility Enhancement grant budget and increases for the Alberta Foundation for the Arts
  • Job creation programs include a $5000 grant for new fulltime positions beginning January 1st 2016 which will support up to 27,000 new jobs each year, through to 2017
  • Nonprofit eligibility applies to the job creation grant. Also, STEP (Summer Temporary Employment Program) has been reinstated with $10 Million in 2016. This is a valuable nonprofit resource in supporting community based programs and services
  • In addition, $15 Million has been budgeted for women’s shelters to address family violence

For more information about the budget please visit the Government of Alberta 2015 Budget website.

Jennifer Esler
Volunteer Alberta

15 Tips to Get Sponsored – reflections from the Western Sponsorship Congress

static1.squarespace.comI recently attended the Western Sponsorship Congress two day event in Calgary. I met a variety of people, sat in on some amazing sessions, and heard great tidbits from the group chats in the main ballroom.

Reflecting on all I heard, I went through my notes and found 15 insightful tips, trends, and insights to keep in mind when considering sponsorship.

CONSIDERATIONS FROM THE KEYNOTE:
Brent Barootes from Partnership Group presented some very relevant information about sponsorship in today’s world.

1. Declines in traditional marketing channels (newspaper ads, TV commercials, etc.) has freed up more money in corporate sponsorship budgets.

2. Sponsorship budgets (on average) rose from 5% in 2007, to 25% in 2014 out of the marketing budgets of corporations.

3. Sponsors want to be fully integrated into the marketing strategy of your event, cause, or organization.

4. Corporations prefer product placement or brand placement (ex. at your event) to advertisements.

5. Many corporations are looking to engage their employees in new and innovative ways to showcase their company and deliver an increased return on investment (ROI).

BREAKOUT SESSIONS HIGHLIGHTS

6. Find a sponsorship partnership that excites you – this is just as important (maybe even more important) as the amount of money that exchanges hands.

7. Building a good relationship is a fundamental part of sponsorship – the discovery part of the relationship (the first few meetings) can help both parties understand the roles, outcomes, and responsibilities of the partnership.

8. Share your cause with potential sponsors. Sponsors are looking to align with causes that will help them make their world (community/market) a better place.

9. Consider video as a way to add extra value to your communications (campaigns, emails, website, or as a stand-alone awareness piece). Video is a great way to showcase sponsors and may attract a specific video sponsorship.

10. Think creatively and offer potential themes for you and your sponsorship partner to build the sponsorship around. (Instead of offering different sponsorship levels – see tip #11) Pick something that you and your sponsor can grow together, so their sponsorship can continue year-round and not end with a specific event.

Staff meetingPANEL DISCUSSION HIGHLIGHTS
In my opinion this was the MOST interesting and educational session of the whole event! The panel discussion, ‘One Size Doesn’t Fit All’ featured four representatives from different businesses (Telus, Cenovus, Remax Real Estate, and North Peace Savings & Credit Union) who shared what they look for when considering potential sponsorship opportunities.

11. Don’t spend time creating the ‘typical sponsor packages’ (Gold, Silver, Bronze) – they do not work because they are outdated and not tailored for mutual benefit.

12. Pick-up the phone when approaching smaller businesses (like Remax and Credit Union). Chatting about the problem, issue, or opportunity will help both parties see possible solutions. They may offer advice or steer you to the right “pile of money” and aide you in the application process – and help build the relationship.

13. Do your homework! Be well aware of a sponsors market, product, what they do, why they do it, and the reasons why they donate. (This is especially important for larger corporations. Most large corporations have online forms – tailor your online application with the information you discover in your research.)

Bonus Tip: If you know someone within the company, follow-up with an email or phone call to make them aware of your application.

14. Know your own stuff! Know your stats, your mission, your audience, and what your objectives are. Be well prepared for meetings – you will come across as genuine and credible. Show the company how they can help drive your mission and how it aligns with their own mission and business objectives.

15. Fair Warning: It will take anywhere from 22 – 24 months for a successful sponsorship deal to close from the initial meeting to money changing hands.

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These 15 tips, along with many others, made for an extremely informative conference and I hope some of you find value in the tidbits I’m sharing. I will be applying these tips in my work going forward. Please share in the comments what tips resonate with you and share if you are applying any of them in your work.

Jen Esler
Volunteer Alberta

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New Government, New Platform – Will it impact the nonprofit sector?

LeafOn Monday, Canada elected a new Liberal Government. The new government’s platform will impact our members, partners, and stakeholders. We have highlighted a few areas of the platform that may relate to nonprofit work, in all sub-sectors, across Alberta.

Nonprofit advocacy in particular is an element of the platform relevant to Volunteer Alberta.

Nonprofit Advocacy

From Volunteer Alberta Executive Director, Jann Beeston:

At Volunteer Alberta we believe, along with many others, that public policy is better when the nonprofit sector voice at the table.

Advocacy is a key part of Volunteer Alberta’s work. We can only do this work through the valuable input from our members, partners, and networks. We have worked in strategic partnership, with other nonprofit organizations, to influence direction related to;

  • privacy legislation,
  • vulnerable sector police information checks,
  • lobbyist act,
  • charitable donation tax credit,
  • nonprofit data,
  • funding mechanisms,
  • and the Alberta nonprofit incorporation review. 

Your voice is vital. It matters to our work, and to nonprofit advocacy and public policy work that impacts our sector and communities.

The Liberal platform promises to “modernize the rules” governing nonprofit advocacy, stating:

“We will allow charities to do their work on behalf of Canadians free from political harassment, and will modernize the rules governing the charitable and not-for-profit sectors. This will include clarifying the rules governing “political activity,” with an understanding that charities make an important contribution to public debate and public policy. A new legislative framework to strengthen the sector will emerge from this process.”

We will work to find opportunities for Alberta nonprofits to participate in the evolution of this and other new legislative frameworks. Volunteer Alberta will connect with both our strong provincial network of capacity building organizations, and national organization like Volunteer Canada and Imagine Canada. We look forward to working collaboratively and to communicating with the sector on issues that impact across Canada.

Other Areas of Interest

On addition to the Liberal platform promise regarding nonprofit advocacy, the platform includes many other promises that you may want to keep track of as the new government settles in.

The following promises may impact the nonprofit sector under our new federal government:

  • Employment:
    • Create youth jobs in the heritage sector through the Young Canada Works program.
    • Waive Employment Insurance premiums for 12 months for 18-24 years old hired into permanent positions in 2016, 2017, and 2018.
  • Technology and Data:
    • Crowdsource policy ideas from citizens using technology.
    • Increase data collection and availability, including reinstatement of the long-form census and changes to Statistics Canada.
  • Infrastructure:
    • Invest in affordable housing, seniors’ facilities, early learning and child care, and cultural and recreational infrastructure.
    • Create more infrastructure funding and loan opportunities for municipalities.
  • Arts:
    • Invest in cultural and creative industries, including doubling investment in the Canada Council for the Arts and increased funding for other arts bodies and programs.
  • Environment:
    • Work with provinces, territories, and other willing partners to address water and soil conservation and development issues.
    • Support innovation and the use of clean technologies in the forestry, fisheries, mining, energy, and agricultural sectors.
  • Indigenous Peoples:
    • Address housing, infrastructure, health and mental health care, community safety and policing, child welfare, and education through a nation-to-nation process with Indigenous Peoples.
    • New funding for Indigenous communities to promote and preserve Indigenous languages and cultures.
  • Women:
    • Work with experts and advocates to develop and implement a comprehensive federal gender violence strategy and action plan.
    • Increase investments in Canada’s network of shelters and transition houses for those fleeing domestic violence.
  • People with Disabilities:
    • Consult with provinces, territories, and other stakeholders to introduce a National Disabilities Act to eliminate systemic barriers for Canadians with disabilities.
  • Housing and Homelessness:
    • Commit funding for Housing First initiatives for homeless Canadians.
  • International Aid:
    • Consult with Canadian and international aid organizations to review current policies and funding frameworks.
    • Widen international aid reproductive health services and increase spending on international development.
  • Unions:
    • Repeal Bills C-377 and C-525 that diminished Canada’s labour movement.

Review the Liberal platform for more information on these promises.

The platform includes further promises on issues that nonprofit sub-sectors and organizations may care about. Find more information on these promises in the platform:

  • Funding for post-secondary students
  • Accessible mental health services
  • Poverty reduction for children and seniors
  • Investment in agricultural research and technical and marketing assistance
  • Gender equality in government and public policies
  • National inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls
  • Respect for Indigenous traditions in environmental stewardship
  • Climate change response framework and strengthened environmental protections
  • Quicker and increased immigration and refugee intake

What is your response to the Liberal government’s platform as it relates to the nonprofit sector and nonprofit organization issues in Alberta? Please share in the comments!

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