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Connect is a place we share stories with, ask questions of, and learn from each other. The Connect Blog highlights your stories, ideas, and insights. Do you have something you’d like to contribute? Apply here or contact Community Manager Quinn. 

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My worst enemy is a blank document with a blinking cursor. I want to write, I set aside time do to it, I poured my coffee, cleaned off my desk, and then… nothing. I imagine this happens with other creative mediums as well: painting, drawing, graphic design, speech-writing – all of it. I feel like any time I want my brain to do something creatively, it’s like, “nah, I’m cool. Wait ‘til you’re just about to sleep, and then I’ll come up with something good.” If that resonates with you, perhaps this quick list of things that have helped me, may help you as well. Give yourself time If I’m up against a deadline, I see time as a countdown and ...
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I’m so excited to be volunteering my time managing social media at an epilepsy research benefit concert this weekend. Giving back is so rewarding and feels even better when you get to use your talents and skills. If you’ve been thinking about giving back to your community and would like to make the most of what you already know to help others, consider skills-based volunteering. Skills-based volunteering allows you to use your specialized skills, talents, experience, and education to help nonprofits achieve their missions. Here are five steps you can take to get started on finding a skills-based volunteer opportunity: Inventory your skills. ...
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The United Nations established December 20 as International Human Solidarity Day to promote the culture of international solidarity and the spirit of sharing that are important for combating poverty. Poverty directly affects food insecurity as those living near or below the poverty line are less likely to be able to afford healthy food regularly. An influx of food drives around the holidays encouraged me to dig a little deeper into food insecurity and what I can do to make a difference. Let’s talk about food insecurity. The dictionary defines food insecurity as the state of being without reliable access to enough affordable, nutritious food. For those ...
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‘Tis the season for giving. And nothing feels better than finding a unique way to make a difference during the holidays. If you are still thinking about what you can do, perhaps this story will inspire you: Mackay asked for a dog last year, and her mom said Santa was ready to deliver. But as the seven-year-old searched through the shelter for her perfect pet, she also decided she wanted something else under the tree. Mackay asked her family and friends for gifts to help the animals still waiting for a home, along with those cats and dogs living with low-income seniors in her community. She ended up donating hundreds of dollars’ worth of toys and food ...
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If you're considering mentorship, whether you're looking for a mentor or to be a mentor, I'd encourage you to learn more about the Connect Mentor Match . Tell us what you're interested in learning about or sharing, and we'll help match you with a great fit. #mentor #learning #BestAdvice ​​​
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This year has gone by incredibly fast. It seems like not so long ago that I read this blog post from @Mauricio Gonzales as we headed into the 2020 holiday season. (For those of you who don’t know him, Mauricio is a delightful, kind human— he’s just the type of person who would think of creative ways to connect with people when they weren’t able to celebrate in person.) While many of us are wishing that things were back to “normal,” a lot of his advice from last year’s blog is still relevant as we try our best to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe. What’s different this year is the that advice seems to be all over the place. I feel like everywhere ...
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I first heard about the Five Whys when I worked on a college Residence Life team. One of my colleagues presented the technique as part of a conflict resolution training series. We wanted to train our student-staff to get to the root of issues rather than accept the first answer they heard. For example, in a roommate conflict situation, the first “why are you angry” might be “my roommate always burns the popcorn,” but that’s rarely the actual issue. That training was almost (wow) a decade ago, but I still think about the Five Whys any time I’m faced with a challenge, especially when my emotions are hit hard. Emotional sensitivity + propensity to over-think ...
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Imagine this: You’re at a park, and your child sees something she doesn’t understand, and asks you the dreaded question: WHY? You offer an answer, and are met with a second, third, perhaps even fifth or sixth … but, why? It’s about here, maybe, that you’re holding back an exasperated sigh and eye roll. But here’s the funny thing. This annoying behavior that most of us have seen and/or experienced from children, if used in the right context, can be a powerful tool for professional development. Now, to be certain, the methodology we are talking about for professional growth has a few important distinctions from your typical five-year-old’s monosyllabic ...
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A while ago, I switched careers after more than two decades as a community newspaper editor. About a year into my new job, I agreed to participate in a mentoring program that connected me with a person in the legal department who had been at the organization for many years. I thought it would be a valuable exercise as I had a lot to learn, especially considering that I was responsible for communication pieces that explained our organization to members and the public. I also knew I had plenty of room to grow professionally. During our first meeting, after pleasantries, I brought up a difficult situation I was in. I was finding it impossible to convince ...
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There’s a voice in my head, and I can’t shut it up. Many of you probably have one, too. The voice is telling me that the sentence I just wrote sucks. It’s telling me that this piece I am writing is going to flop. It’s the thing that threatens to give me an upset stomach a lot of the time when I get a new story assignment. What if I don’t know what to do? What if I fail? What if this is the one that finally proves I am a fake and a fraud? It’s what makes it entirely possible, though incredibly contradictory, to look at a piece I wrote and at different times think it is the most brilliant, clever thing I have every written, and that it is complete and ...
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The hallmark of a good mentor is being a good listener. Honestly, you could truthfully say that about one of a great many things. Boss, spouse/partner, parent, work colleague, even friend. But for mentors, it’s particularly important. And not only to listen as in -- being silent and attentive to what the other person is saying – but to listen empathetically . I got to admit, I suck at this. I can’t even pronounce the word 80% of the time. I used to think I was a decent listener. And in some respects, I may be. But the empathetic thing trips me up a lot. I can be as empathetic as a rock. I have a logical, task-driven mind (and a great urge to ...
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With the world paying long overdue attention to the problems created by a lack of diversity in decision making, and the long-term harm done to individuals and communities across the world because of it, nonprofit organizations (NPOs) have been at the forefront of pushing for and enabling change. But what about leadership at the very top- are NPOs making enough of a push to diversify their boards? It’s worth taking a moment to talk about what diversity doesn’t mean, and to explain some useful terms you can use to talk about the issue. It isn’t tokenism, which is the inclusion of someone only for appearances sake. It’s not about marginalizing any person ...
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The sudden shift to socially distant life resulted in the nonprofit sector losing access to a veritable army of volunteers. NPOs were left with too few hands available to meet their objectives, as well as shortfalls in their ability to manage, coordinate and support their programs effectively. Worse, the COVID-19 pandemic also caused significant disruptions to NPO fundraising efforts, forcing reductions in staffing levels for many. Simultaneously, social distancing cost an army of volunteers their means of doing community service. For many who frequently volunteer, giving back is a core part of life. It's a way to help others, but also often a way to help oneself. ...
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I just read that Nellie Bly's birthday is in May. I pondered if she was the inspiration for May to become the mental health awareness month , but it seems to just be an interesting coincidence. I always viewed her as a trooper and a big hero - such an important historical figure to remember. With mental health stigma and lack of awareness still being present in our society, her role and work became even more timeless and relevant. Nellie Bly went undercover by pretending to be mentally ill and get admitted to a mental institution in an effort to report on the treatment of the patients within the Women's Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell's Island. She became a ...
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If you’re a young professional, the odds are you have more things you’d like to spend your time on than you have time available. You’ve been making good strides in your career, but you’d like to find ways to make a jump forward. Trying to unlock doors to new opportunities, you’re pouring your energy into developing your skills, and learning new ones. You’re searching out ways to boost your resume, and you’re taking every chance you can to scoop up valuable network opportunities. That doesn’t leave much time for a social life though. And now you’ve got no space in your life at all for volunteering and supporting causes in your community… If that’s the situation ...
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Volunteering is rewarding. It connects you with people and provides a sense of purpose and satisfaction. Studies have shown that doing volunteer work is good for your mental health too. It helps with stress, depression, and anxiety, even boosting overall reported happiness. As everyone who’s offered up some of their time to help out at a local charity or nonprofit can tell you, it makes you feel good to help others, and serve your community. So then, why aren’t we spending more time volunteering? According to Deloitte’s 2017 Volunteerism Survey, 69% of people say they aren’t volunteering as much as they’d like to. Apart from Covid restrictions, one reason ...
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2020 was a challenging year for nonprofits. With NPOs struggling to adapt their fundraising models to the changing circumstances, the pandemic forced significant cuts to their workforces. According to research by the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies, an estimated 930,000 jobs were lost in the US nonprofit sector last year. While staff numbers were down however, many organizations simultaneously experienced a surge in demand. Across the board, American NPOs have risen to the challenge. Embracing digital transformation initiatives and implementing innovative solutions, they’ve found new ways to reach out to volunteers and communities, ...
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Beth Keck is the Volkswagen Visiting Chair in Sustainability, Schwarzman College at Tsinghua University. A member of the Rotary Club of Bentonville, Arkansas, she pursues her passion for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) as a volunteer in her community and in Rotary. We caught up with Beth recently to ask her how she applies her professional expertise in DEI as a skills-based volunteer and what her advice would be for others. How did you develop an interest in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)? As a part of the Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative at Walmart, I was responsible for rolling out an initiative to expand training ...
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Building Up Your Professional Portfolio by Volunteering Everyone who volunteers knows the warm, purposeful feeling we get after helping to make our communities a better place. But did you know volunteerism can also have a significant positive impact on your career growth and development? Read on to find out how doing good might help you build up a successful career. Multiple academic studies from around the world have concluded that young professionals who involve themselves in volunteering can reach their professional growth goals faster than peers who don’t help out, sometimes in unexpected ways. For example, UK researchers ...
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Environmental Volunteering: Going Green and Doing Good By now, we all know about the irreversible effects man-made climate change is causing to our planet. Rising sea levels and a warming atmosphere are altering the environment in alarming ways, with the biggest changes yet to come. The ‘new normal’ will affect everyone, no matter how distant it may seem from our comfortable lives right now. With all these looming challenges to humanity, it’s easy to feel powerless. But there are many nonprofit organizations (NPOs) working right now to help mitigate- and even reverse -the worst effects of climate change. The best part is that you can help in any number ...
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