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Organizational Growth STIMULATING ORGANIZATIONAL SUCCESS (S.O.S.) ::
Organizational Magnetism:
Ten Strategies for Creating a Respected Organization, Part One

What makes some organizations thrive in the public eye, popular with funders, become media darlings, and even build a reputation that brings people to them in droves? Here is the first of a three-part series highlighting ten strategies that might help.

  • Be Passionate About Your Mission
  • Let Your Imagination Run Wild
  • Build the Best Team Possible
  • Show Your Appreciation
  • Market Smart
  • Connect with Your Community
  • Budget with Business Savvy
  • Live Within Your Means
  • Have a Dream; Make a Plan
  • Stay Flexible

Be Passionate About Your Mission
Revisit your mission periodically and see if it needs revamping or re-focusing so that it resonates deeply and serves your organization meaningfully.

Does your mission inspire/inform/invigorate you, your artists and your audience? What makes your organization unique? Why should someone want to get involved with your organization more than any other?

If you're not passionate about your mission, how will you possibly be able to get staff, board, volunteers, funders, and patrons excited about your organization?

Let Your Imagination Run Wild
Be creative. Brainstorm innovative techniques to get the word out about your work, implementing "fun-raisers" that bring in lots of money, or cool ways to motivate volunteers and staff. Often, companies feel that they have to follow the traditional way of doing things or do what's always been done before. But sometimes thinking outside of the box and finding unique ways to accomplish your goals can actually help make your organization stand out from the rest.

Build the Best Team Possible
As any great coach knows, it's not any one individual player that makes a winning team, it's the combination of all the players working together that does. A perfect case in point is United States' 1980 gold medal Olympic hockey team. Coach Herb Brooks was originally criticized for passing over some of the best hockey players America had. He stated that his job was to put together a winning team, which was very different than putting together a group of star players. He needed people who would not only work well together, but people who would work for the best interests of the team rather than their own.

Put together the "team" for your arts and cultural organization in the same way. Find people who are passionate about the mission of your organization and are enthusiastic about carrying that mission forth. People who are team players, who believe in doing what's best for the organization, who are a good fit, and who possess the skills or experience your organization desires, or are willing to learn what they don't know — these are the types of people that are invaluable to your organization. Whether you're putting together a board, a staff, a committee of volunteers, or a core company of artists, it's important to take the time to find the right group of people — a dream team that will make your organization click.

This also means having the courage to decide when someone is just not working out for the organization. That person may be quite talented or incredible at what s/he does, but if the direction s/he's striving for is at odds with the best interests of the company, then sometimes it is best to part ways. In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins talks about getting the right people on the bus, and how vital it is to have people working for a company that are going to make the company work. Sometimes it's better to have a vacant seat than to fill it with the wrong person. One misplaced person can drain a lot of time and energy and create unnecessary tension. Whereas having all the right people creates a synergy that can make all the difference.

Show Your Appreciation
Appreciate your staff, volunteers, board, artists, audience, vendors, donors, etc. — it's much easier to maintain those who are already there, than to chase after those who've never stepped through your door before.

Often, even simple thank you's are over-looked and then a company wonders why their individual donations are dwindling or why subscribers aren't renewing. Showing appreciation doesn't have to be costly or elaborate and it's definitely worth the time invested.

People like to be acknowledged for the things that they do or the time that they share. When they know that their efforts are making a difference, they are far more likely to continue giving what they can. But if someone feels like s/he's being taken for granted, that's the surest way to lose what might have been a life-long supporter.

In part two will focus on strategies for building your support base. Part three will focus on the financial and business side of building your organization.

TIPS FOR GREAT GRANTWRITING
YOUR ORGANIZATION AND THE IRS
GET THE WORD OUT ABOUT YOUR ARTS EVENTS
AMERICANS FOR THE ARTS BOOKSTORE
ARTISTS: EMPLOYEE OR CONTRACTOR?
MUST READS FOR ARTS MANAGERS - PART 1
MUST READS FOR ARTS MANAGERS - PART 2
ORGANIZATIONAL MAGNETISM: PART ONE
ORGANIZATIONAL MAGNETISM: PART TWO
ORGANIZATIONAL MAGNETISM: PART THREE
OVERCOMING BARRIERS TO BOARD DIVERSITY
TIPS FROM THE FIELD
MORE TIPS FROM THE FIELD
PLANNING EFFECTIVE MEETINGS
BUILDING EFFECTIVE BOARDS
THE PRESS KIT
MOTIVATING VOLUNTEERS
DELIVERING OUTSTANDING CUSTOMER SERVICE
Shown: Seattle Youth Symphony. Photo: Colleen Boyce.
Seattle Youth Symphony.
Photo: Colleen Boyce.
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