The Yoga of Nonprofit Communications
One of the reasons I love working with nonprofits is that it feels so human. We connect with other people because of shared concerns, shared passions, shared goals. It’s more collaborative than competitive. People’s passions can come alive, and it’s contagious! I absolutely love to help people channel their enthusiasm and use it to create real change in the world.
For most of my professional life this is what I’ve been doing. In 2000 (back when it was rocket science!) my husband and I began creating and managing websites for nonprofits, and we formed Grand Junction Design. Since then, my expertise has evolved to address communications more broadly than just websites. I’ve also begun to specialize more in human rights, multilingual and/or Latin America-focused projects.
During most of that time, I’ve also practiced yoga. This has transformed the way I see and think about the world. At times yoga has literally turned my body and my assumptions upside-down. At other times it has given me stillness, in which I remember that I am a unique living thing, as is every other person on the planet. It’s our shared humanity that brings us all together. We’re stronger when we remember that. I know nonprofit folks “get” that, but it’s easily lost under hundreds of emails and the pressure of deadlines.
As I've been practicing (and teaching) yoga more in recent years, I often see parallels with my nonprofit communications work. I see a lot of lessons that can be applied to both ways of thinking. So I decided to write a series of blog posts about them.
For starters, one very important lesson of yoga is awareness. From a practical communications perspective, awareness is being able to look at our work and evaluate it. Observe what went well and what could be better next time. Ground ourselves by seeing where we are, remembering where we’re headed -- the mission! -- and (re)calculating the route we will take to get there.
With mission in mind, it’s much easier to consider questions like: How should we be using social media? How do we raise money to pay for the website redesign we so desperately need? How do we rally our supporters and expand our reach? How do we keep our balance when we’re under so much pressure?
My aim is to write a series of posts with practical information and tips for nonprofit communications professionals, peppered with reminders of why we’re doing this to begin with. I look forward to discussing these -- and the ideas yet to come -- with you!