Non-Profit Leadership is Unique

Arrow of a  compass pointing to the word Leadership (3D Rendering)

Last week I completed my 37th year in non-profit management. I can honestly say that I have loved my work and have found great fulfillment in using my abilities and experiences to build into the lives of our staff and thousands of individuals that we have been able to help through the years.

As in any profession the non-profit world has some distinct challenges. The process of building a non-profit organization is unlike most business situations because it is mission driven. We as non-profit leaders do not do what we do because of financial gains and we cannot manage our organizations purely by financial goals. We face the challenges of balancing budgets while meeting the overwhelming needs of our clients. We also provide the tools for our staff to be equipped to provide the support and programs that our clients require.

We also must change and grow with the times. I have seen several shifts throughout my career.  We must be fluid, contextual, growth-oriented and constantly adapting to a changing world. Like all businesses, non-profits must be intentional in keeping up with the times even though most have limited resources to make those adjustments.

When I began at Lakeside, we were a very small organization with outreach to just a few students and had little or no impact on our profession or our systems. Now Lakeside trains over 18,000 professionals, works with multiple organizations, provides education and/or counseling to 4,000 students and is now seen as a significant resource to those who have experienced trauma and adversity.

As we have created this growth and momentum many lessons have been learned. There were very difficult times and some wondrous moments. I’d like to share how we have grown through the challenges and have become a thriving organization that is a leader in our field and a resource to systems, organizations, and professionals. It has been quite a journey!

In upcoming posts, I hope to share some key components that created an environment for growth, impact and care for those in our sphere of influence. I trust it can be encouraging and relevant to those in similar situations.

So stay tuned to this upcoming Non-Profit Leadership series as I share what has made Lakeside into the organization that it is today. The next post will be on Thursday. May it inspire other non-profit leaders to continue in their own growth and development.

Gerry Vassar


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