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Our End-of-Year Lessons Learned

Reflection is an important practice as individuals but also as an organization. At RVC, we believe this is how we continue to change and improve for our partners, our community, and for each other. 2017 is coming to a close very soon and our team got to reflect on our lessons learned so far as a growing organization. Below are some of those lesson(s) learned:

Uma Rao, Capacity Building Coach

Meeting Capacity comes down to something so simple: do less, or find resources to do more.

  • Why is this so hard to do? Our passion and love for our community push us to do more with less, all the time.
  • Working intergenerationally DOES mean you have to be thoughtful about how you communicate expectations.
  • People in our communities carry so much wisdom.
  • Solutions aren’t always necessary. Sometimes, active and deep listening is everything.
  • Feedback really does make your work better! Take the time to get it and learn how to receive it well.

Florence Sum, Fellow / Fellowship Program Coordinator

  • Everyone needs a mentor in all phases of their professional career.
    When you’re building a mentorship program, make sure the foundation has a mix of flexibility and structure for all parties involved. Also, if you can’t compensate people’s time e.g. meetings with mentors/mentees should count as work hours, then compensate for the coffee/snacks because mentorship is a value-add to your employee but also to your organization. This benefits both the mentee and the fellow!

Ananda Valenzuela, Managing Director

  • Providing back office support to a cohort of organizations can be an ingenuous way to build collective wealth and power without losing autonomy.

Chris Rhodes, Development Director

  • Build your major donor prospects a part of your team.
    One of the greatest things you can do to cultivate major donor prospects is to make them feel like they are part of your team/organization. If a major prospect is serving on committees, offering advice to the executive director, attending your events and getting newsletters, they are going to feel like they are already part of the team and invested in your organization’s success – and thus, when you make an ask, they are going to want to give. Remember the goal is to make a relationship not a transaction. Make major donor prospects feel appreciated and like valued members of your team. If there is nothing yet in place already create the opportunity!

Jon Kauffman, Super Volunteer

  • In too many cases, non-profit programs are run by the lowest bidder. We need to help funders see we must fight together for quality, living wages, and equity.

Abesha Shiferaw, Program Director

  • Build more spaces for nonprofit professionals of color with community in mind.
    This month we launched our Affinity Peer Learning Groups for partners of our Community Alliance. Nonprofit professionals of color do not have many spaces to come together, share knowledge, and support each other in safe environments. This space is critical because, particularly in this political and social climate, nonprofit professionals of color need opportunities to address shared issues faster and make progress to meet the needs of communities of color without, as one of our community members stated, “constantly slowing down to explain what they mean to outsiders.” People of color have shared context and the ability to navigate through racism and oppression in spaces they don’t have to explain these issues allows greater opportunity to strengthen problem-solving and promotes common ground.
  • As change-agents working to dismantle systemic oppression, we sometimes perpetuate and display similar oppressive practices and behaviors. It’s a constant battle unlearning and learning, doing and undoing, harming and healing. With the vision of a better world in mind, one of the most critical pieces of our work is to engage in the hard work of personal development and healing the pains we’ve endured. This allows us to show up for our communities in ways that foster healthy relationships, building power and institutions that function to support thriving communities.
  • Civic engagement for communities of color is critical in order to shift the balance of power and create an equitable world. Particularly involving members of our communities that may not have the ability to attend city council meetings, participate in the budget process, or serve on a board/commission. We need to create opportunity, access, and real investment to ensure those that have been left at the margins have a place at the decision-making spaces.

Jaleh Sadravi, Development and Communications Manager

Having a ‘bring your baby to work’ policy supports working mothers and gender equality.

  • RVC has a workplace policy that has allowed me to bring my infant to work until she is six months old. Because of this policy, I didn’t have to decide between my career and being a mother. Here are some of the benefits of having a policy like this:
    • Allowing babies in the workplace costs an organization almost nothing and provides extensive business benefits.
    • Employees voluntarily return to work earlier after a baby’s birth. Workplace morale, employee retention and long-term productivity are higher.
    • It enhances parent-child bonding, allows more mothers to breastfeed for longer and gives new parents and babies a built-in social network.

Sevi Fua, Development Associate

  • You can always get more money, but you can’t get more time. The main point to this is to show class that this life is short and being who you want to be is golden. Take opportunities while they’re available.
  • Communication is an important skill to learn, if someone is having trouble or needs help, communicating these needs is important to others being able to assist you.
  • It takes a village to raise a child. RVC has taught me the importance of having a community and how as humans we want to feel like we belong to something, which is unbelievably essential.

Now, it’s your turn! Please tell us your lesson(s) learned and your growth. What are your lessons learned from this year? How resilient have you and your community have been? How have you practiced your self-care? How have you stayed grounded?

This is our last blog for 2017! The RVC team will be taking a break from the Changemakers Blog for the rest of the year. Stay tuned for more posts in January 2018.

Stay magical and warm, unicorns.


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