It’s hard to believe that we are quickly approaching the end of 2021 but somehow we are just a few weeks away from the new year. And with the new year comes new goals, new resolutions and new to-do lists. But before you get too caught up with the start of 2022, you should take a look back at 2021 and celebrate all that you’ve accomplished.
Okay, you might be thinking… we don’t have time to celebrate, we have a mile long to-do list and deadlines coming up. Look, we get it. Nonprofits have a lot on their plates and are usually doing it with just a handful of people. However, if we don’t look back and celebrate our successes it can be difficult to see how far we’ve come and find joy in our work when things get busy and stressful.
So let’s get into a few reasons why we think celebrating is worth being at the top of your to-do list before jumping into 2022.
I previously worked for a small nonprofit organization as the only paid staff person. Every day was full and exhausting and I’m sure I’m not a minority in this. Many nonprofit organizations are doing the work of 10 employees with 2 or 3 employees. And with 30% of nonprofit workers being burnt out, it’s probably easy to say that wellbeing could always use a boost!
A social psychology researcher, Fred Bryant, is the father researcher of “savoring” and says that when we savor the positive things that happen it can help provide a barrier to the negative things and help build resilience. So even celebrating small victories can bring on positive emotions that can help with daily stresses.
It’s easy to fall into a routine of constantly moving onto the next task and the next task and the next task, forgetting what you’ve accomplished. But when you take a beat to look back at all of the small tasks that have led to bigger victories, it helps you realize how much work has actually gone into it. For example, let’s say one of your big goals for the year was to work with the school system for activities like Red Ribbon Week, sports event and Prom. And guess what? You made it happen! It’s an exciting time for your organization. And you could easily see the excitement and quickly move on to… now let’s work on not only working alongside the schools for these events, but let’s get into every health class once a month. It could be easy to think “getting involved in these events was the easy part, we have much more work to do!” But wait… what about all those meetings it took with different school administrators to get here. Or what about all the times you spoke at different meetings with parents to explain the importance of your organization being in the school. Or all those brainstorming sessions with your staff on best ways to hit your message home… we could probably keep listing things you did to get to this point.
See what we mean? It’s not just the celebration of the overall goal that is important. Looking back and reviewing the details that got you there will show you how much work you actually did and make your accomplishments that much more exciting. This will also give you a great boost in creating a “Year-End Review” for partners, current/potential funders and members of your organization. You can download our free Year-End Review template here to give you a head start.
Remember what we said earlier about burnout for nonprofit workers? That’s real… and it’s a big reason nonprofits have so much turnover. Want to stop hiring a new coordinator every year? Start celebrating! The big, the small and everything in between. Make sure your staff knows the work they are doing is appreciated.
Now… you tell me to celebrate… okay, we got it. But… How?! When?! Where?! Keep reading for some realistic tips you can implement to make celebrating simple and part of your organization’s culture.
Grab a piece of paper or whatever electronic device you may use and start remembering. Look through your calendar, quarterly or monthly reports from the year, your organization’s social media pages or anywhere that you have kept things that have happened over the year. Then write them down.
I bet you’ll be surprised by some of the accomplishments you may have forgotten about. Once you have those “bigger” pieces written down, start writing down some of the steps you remember that got you to that accomplishment. Do this for every single one.
At the end you should have a pretty long list of accomplishments and all the work that went into getting them done.
This is an especially great activity for those organizations who may only have 1 or 2 staff members.
If you have staff, a group of board members or volunteers do a similar activity with them as a group! A great way to start this is by sending an email explaining what you’re asking of them. That way they have a chance to do a review alone and bring a list to the meeting. Then set a time either virtually or in person to review what everyone has come up with.
We would almost guarantee that others will come up with some tasks or accomplishments that you forgot about that really impacted them. It’s a great way to hear from others, give them a voice and build community within your organization.
This one is where you can get creative or keep it simple. There are so many options when it comes to doing a celebration. Virtual or in person; invite staff, volunteers, board members, community partners and share the successes you have uncovered in the previous above sessions. Give out “superlatives” for partner of the year or person with the most volunteer hours. If you’re in-person maybe have food or light snacks. If the budget is there, have giveaways. You can also pencil in time at an upcoming meeting or event to do this.
We hope this gives you a fresh outlook on why celebrating success – big or small – is so important, and that you’re able to implement some of these tips into your organization this year.
And remember, whatever you choose, make it work for your organization. There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to celebrating.