Look inward

I recently spoke with a local non-profit group about the challenges they are facing. Finding volunteers to help with their projects was on the top of their list. Volunteers tend to turn into future donors. If they could get more volunteers, they would see an increase in donations. Simple.

After the interaction, I went home and wrote a lengthy email with my contacts of individuals and organizations that were looking for opportunities to contribute to a cause such as theirs.

The problem was, when I went to send the email, there was no one to email my information to. Not one single email available to contact a human.


I think it is convenience. Having less contact information is a convenient way to avoid interacting with people.

Sure, they could point to the “Contact Us” section. But I didn’t need to contact “us”, what I needed was to contact “you”. Specifically, the one who can solve an interesting problem, the one who can connect us with their movement.

Generosity is, of course, a choice, a skill, a habit that is learned and practiced. The label of a non-profit though doesn’t automatically give you the spirit of a non-profit. The DNA, the culture of a remarkable organization stems from small and seemingly insignificant choices. Like having a human being on the other end to interact with.

If you want to solve a problem, it helps to look inward first. It is easy to say, if someone would just give me more ______________ (money, time, authority), then this problem would go away. Until a new problem pops up. Because problems never go away.

The answer is rarely more resources but what are you doing with the resources you have.

Help us, help you.

(This non-profit is probably dealing with the stress of a system that is over-worked, under-paid and under-valued. They are in reactionary mode. I mean, how could they know if there is a problem if no one can contact them? The thing is, if your organization says it really cares about people, you have to act as you care about people by being available to them. You can’t say you care about people if you treat them like they are a nuance. Treat different people differently—like someone who wants to volunteer for a non-profit.)

(Follow-up: I sent the email through the “Contact Us”. There was no response to know if my contacts arrived, not even an automated generated email saying “Thank you. We have received your email. Someone from our local office will be in contact with you shortly.” Small change but significant: What if instead they had the email, phone number and picture on every page with the person in-charge of that specific program. What would happen if volunteers / customers actually had a human to talk to?)

(Second follow-up: No one replied back to the email. At best, I can assume that it was lost in the mail. At worse, no one cared.)