One of the earliest concepts we learn in life is to share with others, which means having the self-awareness to understand that we are not the only people on this planet. Sharing is especially important in the nonprofit world because we don’t exist in a vacuum no matter how wonderful we may be. Still, many leaders behave as if they exist on an island that is completely separate from all other organizations. They hoard information and resources and rarely collaborate with other entities. They’re hesitant to offer help or build relationships. They always seem to be fighting some other leader or organization about funding or turf. They routinely decline opportunities to combine resources.
Sharing is valuable because it helps you and your organization move from being one strong entity to being the same strong entity plus what other people and organizations have to offer. You can be immensely powerful on your own but it doesn’t matter the moment you have to collaborate with another entity or need their help. Let’s look at some of the signs that point to whether you’re sharing effectively as well as some benefits you’re likely to experience when you do.
Signs You’re Not Sharing
- You mostly make unilateral decisions.
- You seldom listen to outside input.
- Things are always done based on what you think is right or wrong.
- You guard access to information or resources.
- You impose your will in situations where your ideas are up against someone else’s.
- Your organization isn’t connected with many others or you view yourself as the only game in town.
- Other leaders come to you only when all other resources have been exhausted.
- You have a, “I’m not here to make friends,” mentality.
- You don’t collaborate on many projects with other organizations.
Signs You’re Sharing
- You look for opportunities to build new relationships and strengthen existing ones.
- Other organizations know you as an entity that enjoys sharing.
- You can call on other organizations to help you and vice versa.
- You actively seek opportunities to collaborate.
- You get along well with other leaders and organizations.
- You’re happy to share information and resources.
- You actively interact with a wide range of leaders and organizations not specifically related to the work your nonprofit does.
Benefits of Sharing
- Positive relationships with other organizations, clients and the community.
- You serve more people and further your mission more effectively because you’re connected with a network of other resources.
- Clients are happier because they don’t get the dreaded, “We can’t help you,” answer.
- You set a positive example and attract other leaders and organizations that are interested in building mutually beneficial relationships.
- Access to fresh ideas and brain power.
- Fewer or no struggles over turf and funding.
- Other leaders and organizations want to work with you.
- You don’t have to live alone on an island, zealously guarding your toys.
The bottom line about sharing is that it gives you more power, not less, because it adds to your capacity to deliver services. The myth that many nonprofit leaders function under is that, if they share information, services or resources, it will make them weaker. This guarding of resources inevitably leads to fewer links and a reduced ability to serve clients or your cause. The amazing thing about sharing is that it builds on itself and it opens new doors of opportunity. What will you do to share more?