Stuck in the Story

Mo's Musings

Sometimes we are just going about our day, minding our own business when out of the blue we are “acted upon by an outside force.” A car cuts in front of us, we get bad news at work (or, more likely, vague news that we don’t know what to do with), Our spouse turns up the TV when we ask for help.

And now we are feeling something.

When emotions wake up, they first try to figure out what woke them and then look for fuel to get bigger. Luckily for them, the brain is there to fill them in. Less luckily for us is brains really like to make stuff up.

So our brain tells a story. When we decide it’s a true story we feed the emotion. The emotion gets bigger and wants a more involved story. The brain is happy to provide. And then we are off…

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Leadership Lessons from the Age of Covid-19

I wrote this on my personal blog, but if there is anyone still hanging out here, you might also find it of interest.

Mo's Musings

I read this article sometime last week and my original take away was the intended one: testing is important, we didn’t do it when we needed to, and we aren’t really catching up.

What stuck with me, and prompted me to go back and find the article again was Dr. Helen Y Chu.

The TL;DR is Dr. Chu was all set up to test for seasonal flu and since “a nasal swab is a nasal swab” could fairly easily test for the novel coronavirus as well. In doing so, she’d be able to get a much clearer picture of how much, if any, community spread already existed in Washington state. She asked if she could proceed. The answer was no. She asked again, still no. She decided to do it anyway. When testing uncovered the spread of the virus was already much wider than previously assumed, she was still told…

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ICANN Considers Relaxing Domain Registration Privacy; Automattic Objects

Transparency Report

We’ve said it time and time again: user privacy is important to us. We’re vigilant about protecting it on, and we’re always on the lookout, ready to weigh in on policy proposals that might curtail the privacy that we and our users value so highly.

Today, our focus turns to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the organization responsible for coordinating the internet’s naming system, such as domain names. ICANN is currently considering a proposal that would prohibit many domain owners from using privacy and proxy registration services.

What exactly does this mean? If you’ve ever registered a domain (and millions of you on have), you may have noticed an option to make your personal information, such as your name, address, and phone number, private. This is great for those who want to publish anonymously or those who simply value more privacy. However, ICANN is considering precluding anyone who uses a domain for “commercial” purposes from private…

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J and I just gave to the Ada…

I originally posted this over on one of Mach 30’s sites, but the lessons for fundraisers are good ones–plus I’m a little in love with the Ada Initiative right now and it’s a cause that might not be familiar to all of my nonprofit peeps. Enjoy!

Mach 30 Discussions

J and I just gave to the Ada Initiative and there are a lot of things about their fundraising process that is well done. I’m sharing it here as inspiration/ideas to steal for Mach 30:

Twitter stream is full of reasons to support their work with Retweets, photos, everything. All of it geared toward the cause, not the organization:

Website includes specific asks to help spread the word–including sample social media posts:

Site lists concrete ways people can support the mission of the organization with or without giving money:

Donate page makes it easy to give, has unique funding levels, and includes short, powerful reasons to support the initiative:

Provides easy ways for supporters to do matching campaigns. Here’s an example campaign: –It’s not clear to me how you start a matching campaign which is less good, but that might be because they are nearly…

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Volunteer service is a gift

nan prezzie 2I’ve worked for nonprofits most of my career which has afforded me a lot of experience with volunteering from a staff perspective. That experience taught me how critical volunteers are to an organization’s success, how wonderful great volunteers are to work with, and how challenging it is when the relationship between volunteers and staff gets strained.

Recently, I started helping out in the forums as an actual volunteer. It’s been a wonderful experience. I’ve met great people and it gives me a chance to give back to the WordPress community. It has also given me a bit more insight into why some volunteer experiences are amazing for both the volunteers and the organization, and others–well not so much.

Volunteering is ultimately a gift. Yes, theatre ushers see the show for free, animal shelter volunteers sometimes get discount vet care for their own animals, or have adoption fees waived. Forum volunteers get experience and maybe a new client or two. Those perks are important, and can help volunteers feel appreciated, but ONLY if they are treated as gifts, not as payment.

Volunteers choose to serve because they believe in the mission of the organization, and want to do their part to make sure the project succeeds.  When a volunteer manager gives any indication that they believe they are paying their volunteers with perks the relationship changes in a fundamentally negative way.  If the perks a volunteer receives are payment, then their work is no longer a gift– it’s a transactional exchange. If the time and effort spent helping your organization is “paid in full” with a free coffee mug, or even a $30 theatre ticket, then it’s clear the work is not valued at all.

Once volunteers stop feeling valued, bad things happen.  The best case scenario is they stop volunteering.  They are suddenly too busy, or work gets in the way, or you just stop hearing from them.  The other options are worse.  A volunteer may keep showing up, but will consciously or subconsciously buy into your transactional mentality and start to give you work that is “worth” what you pay them, or start to insist you “pay” more.  She may also start to develop negative feelings about the work she does for you and maybe even the clients you serve.  You may even find that her frustration with you starts leaking into her interactions with the organization’s clients, or the general public.

On the other hand, when the time and effort a volunteer puts in is warmly received with genuine gratitude, when her opinions and ideas are considered, especially in regards to changes that affect her work, when she is publicly thanked for her contributions,  the “perks” simply serve to remind everyone that her work is important, that her contributions are valued, and that the time  she puts in is worth it.

Your Turn

Volunteers, we want to hear from you!  What could the organization you work for do to help you feel more valued?