Manners and the Nonprofit Org

please-and-thank-youBy Steffi Aronson Karp

Is this you? Is this your organization?

Your mission statement says you do good things: you raise funds for wonderful causes and you have many happy members – sounds like a lot of us. But wait! There’s more! You grow, and need a new employee, or two. You really grow, and raise funds for lovely office space, or a building. Two employees become four; four become ten, or 30, or 40. You add a Human Resources department. And now, there’s even more: you advertise for the next worker or workers. You’re swamped! But it is good swamped, because resumes come pouring in. Life is good – but what about those applicants?

Have you acknowledged their applications? Did you reach out to each applicant with an email or letter? If not you, then did you empower someone else to reach out? You, your workers and your organization may be thriving – but what kind of organization are you really when resumes go unnoticed – especially in this difficult economy? What is the message you send to the next generation about their choice to serve the Jewish community?

I recently attended a Shabbos dinner where a new college grad to the area, one with amazing experience in the Jewish community, applied to a local tzedaka before coming to town with her fiancé. She made multiple phone calls regarding the status of her application. She never heard back. Eight months, and one decent for-profit job later, she received a phone call asking if she could come in for an interview during a workday. What on Earth did they think she had done all that time? Who can afford to twiddle thumbs for 2/3 of a year, waiting for an opportunity to discuss the possibility of a possible position? We lost a good one. She would have been a wonderful asset in the Jewish nonprofit world. She’s not the only member of her generation to share such a story.

What about the applicants who only hear that their resume arrived because they know someone, who knows someone else, who happened to meet someone who sits on the hiring committee?

Running the volunteer-driven LimmudBoston conference means that I often have the privilege of meeting well-qualified workers who have time to help us while seeking paid positions. Our volunticipants can choose to offer their time and expertise with any of many nonprofits. It is our job to make sure that they feel warmly welcomed. We love our volunteers! We feed them well and help them feel connected.

To say the least, it is unprofessional to forget basic manners. As the founder and president of one of the newer tzedakas on the block, I know that “please” and “thank you” matter. We truly appreciate each person’s contribution – of time or money or advice.

It’s a shame to lose an entire generation because one person, or an entire organization, is too busy to say thanks. It is a costly shame to lose volunteers to the art museum or any other non-Jewish organization because the volunteers do not feel welcomed and appreciated. How are things at your organization?

Steffi Aronson Karp is Founder & President of LimmudBoston.