Chinese New Year Traditions for Nonprofits - Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires
On February 19, 2015, Chinese communities throughout the world begin two weeks of celebrations to mark the lunar new year, the year of the Sheep (or Ram), the culmination of many preparations and traditions that have been in place for generations.
As we begin this new year, here are some of the traditions that can be productive to apply to your nonprofit life:
Conduct a thorough cleaning. Start with your database and your paper files. Are you collecting useful information? Is it organized the way that is productive? Are your duplicate files running rampant? Consolidate your information and purge what you can. Then, move on to your calendar. What extraneous activities can be purged or delegated to make room for what you really need to do?
Reconcile old debts and grudges. Yes, this may be a time to look at outstanding pledges, but it's not just about money. Are there people to whom you owe follow up, or prospective donors that you should "bless and release?" In some cases, you're better to let a donor go than continue to pursue a gift that doesn't work for them. Reassess donors that are in cultivation and decide what you need to do to move them forward or to move them on.
Give "lucky money." The iconic red envelopes are given to children to insure that they have good luck for the coming year. In the same vein, think about your own philanthropy and consider a gift to a charitable cause that is not the one you work for. Was there an organization you missed in December? Is there a new cause you would like to support? Being a donor makes you a better, more aware fundraiser.
Look forward, not back. This is your second chance at new year's resolutions! Pick one thing that you'd like to accomplish this year and make a plan the steps you need to take.
Wear red. This has no translation to the nonprofit field. It's just good luck.
Celebrate abundance. The New Year's Eve dinner is traditionally a large celebration for the family to celebrate how much wealth they have, regardless of what actual physical wealth they hold, and carry over that optimism to the new year. Too often, development program staff do not have the time to celebrate the generosity of their donors and the successes of their efforts. Take a moment to be thankful for the support you receive. Gather those close to your cause and say, "We have so much!"
Wishing you, and your nonprofit, prosperity in the new year! Gong Xi Fa Cai!
(This was first posted in 2012. The original post is here.)