What a game! Instant classic!
While I’m far from any type of soccer expert, I closely watched the FIFA 2018 World Cup final, and it struck me that there were three evident lessons from the victorious French team’s play that are transferable to your favorite nonprofit.
The Need for Speed
Croatia is a truly great team and played extremely well. But it seemed to me France was simply the faster and quicker team. Faster to loose balls, faster down the field, faster to set up defensive and offensive plays.
Does your favorite nonprofit have the requisite speed to operate in our hyper-digital, I-want-it-yesterday world?
Of course, there’s most definitely times for quiet, sure-but-steady deliberation. You don’t want to be rushed into making bad decisions.
But let me ask you: How fast is your fave nonprofit in getting out thank you notes after a donation or event?
When a potential donor contacts you, how fast is your response time?
When a potential donor contacts you with an unusual gift, a non-cash gift, how quickly can you respond as to whether you take such gifts and that you’ll take this particular gift? (A gift acceptance policy and a gift acceptance committee can work wonders here).
How quickly do you respond to someone who contacts you and wants to become more involved in your nonprofit as a volunteer, committee member, or board member?
To take the simplest example of how being quick and “on the ball” can make a difference, think about if you receive a thank you note just a couple days after a donation is made. It means more and makes a lasting impression rather than a thank you note received a month after a donation is made.
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) July 15, 2018
One Superstar Is Not Enough, Not Even Luka Modric
Nonprofits often rely on superstars, too–the executive director who toils for decades; the board president with the knack of bringing board members together, and the volunteer who shows up every week to keep the database totally updated.
But, soccer is a team sport, and in the long game, so is philanthropy.
You don’t need just one of the “superstars,” you need all three…plus many other active staff, volunteers, board members, and stakeholders.
As awesome and spectacular as Modric is as a soccer player, he’s just one player. You need a whole supporting cast to win the match, every match, and stay consistent.
As commentators noted even before the game, France has such a litany of stars that anyone could step up to be counted on a given day. Griezmann, Mbappe, Giroud, Pogba, and others make France champions because they came to the field with such a deep bench.
Calm, Concentration, and Confidence
One of France’s coaches said he wanted his team to remember just three things during the match today: calm, confidence, and concentration. The same could be said by a leader at your favorite nonprofit.
On any day, at a small (or even large) nonprofit, all heck can break loose. Instead of one big problem, five, six, or 10 “fires” may break out. In these times, calm is needed. Don’t panic. Panicked people are not productive people. Work your way through each problem in order of importance. Communicate with the others that you’ll be back with them as soon as possible. It will get better. We all have bad days, don’t make a bad day even worse or last all week by not remaining cool and collected.
Don’t be constantly distracted by our uber busy, get-it-to-me-yesterday work culture. Decide what’s most important and try to stick to not only tackling it but finishing it, despite the myriad of distraction that no doubt will be thrown at you.
If you are not fully confident in your mission, goals, and objectives, potential donors and other stakeholders will be able to sense this. I believe expert legal counsel can help tremendously in this regard. To take just one prominent example, there is no such thing as being too compliant. How many of the policies and procedures the IRS asks about on Form 990 do you have? Were they copied off the Internet willy nilly or personally crafted for the unique needs of your nonprofit? When was the last time they were reviewed and updated? Demonstrate confidence by taking charge of your compliance.
What lessons did you and your favorite charity take from today’s World Cup championship game?
Also, what was your favorite part of the match? I’d love to hear from you! Leave your thoughts in the comments below, or contact me by email, email@example.com or on my cell, 515-37-6077.