Top 5 Gifts for Nonprofit Leaders

Top 5 Presents for Non-Profit Executives
5. Boomerang
If you struggle with an overflowing Inbox, this software is for you.  Inbox woes happen when leaders use the inbox as a repository for tasks that can’t be dealt with right away.  The higher the leadership position, the more you become dependent on others, and the more these emails stack up in the inbox.  Leaders can spend an inordinate amount of time repeatedly scanning a long stack, and worrying (with good reason) that things will fall through the cracks. Boomerang solves that problem by allowing you to whisk emails away with a click, only to “boomerang back” when it’s time to deal with them.   While the product is not a panacea for disorganization, it can make a big difference.  It’s my 2011 nomination for the “Why didn’t anyone think of this before?” category.   See here for the Outlook version ($29.95 one time fee) or the Gmail version ($4.99/month subscription).
4. Smartphone Apps
If you have a smartphone (or need an excuse to finally buy one), here are some apps I described in the Stanford Social Innovation Review as relevant to nonprofit leaders.
3. Time to fundraise
If you’re having budget woes this time of the year, read the research on why fundraising shortcomings happen.  Hint: it requires taking a good look at your own schedule this past year.  Give yourself more time in the next year and I guarantee you’ll see a difference.
2. A Pet Project
I’ve noticed that the veteran executives that thrive even after many years in the game often reserve some time for a pet project at work.  These projects may not be part of the leader’s core responsibilities, but they keep her creative, passionate, and challenged.  It’s a lesson many leading organizations in the corporate world have followed, and here’s one example from a Capacity Collaborative member ED that was described on Social Edge.
1. An Executive Coach
I can’t think of a single nonprofit executive who wouldn’t benefit significantly from an executive coach.  The coaching process is fundamental to any kind of self-improvement, as shown by this recent New Yorker article from noted surgeon/writer Atul Gawande.  It is a necessity, not a luxury.  It’s the one thing that I would gift to every ED if I could.

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