“Find ways to build people up”: – Day 4 highlights from Stronger to Serve

After full days of back-to-back sessions on regulatory, technology, leadership, employee retention and other nitty gritty issues pertinent to your organization, the finals hours of the Wipfli Stronger to Serve conference wrapped up on Friday with a focus on the well-being of attendees in their professional and personal lives.

Trainer Barbara Low offered vital tips on a topic of universal concern: how to create your best life.

“The past two-plus years changed our lives forever. We’re living in a time we could never have predicted, and it’s caused us to look at life differently,” she said.

When employees decided not to return to work, it led to a lot of stress that we have today.

“The pandemic taught us is that there are seasons to our lives. We’re very mission-focused in our agencies but remember that people come in and out of our lives. Sometimes we need recommit to what we’re doing and sometimes we make some changes,” Low said. “Yes, you may have to work but you can find balance and find joy in everything you do.”

It’s important to develop your vision.

  • Are you happy where you live?
  • Who surrounds you in this vision?
  • What’s happening that’s making you happy and fulfilled?
  • How do you feel?
  • How do you feel about Mondays? Fridays?
  • What are you doing on weekends?

Life is about having purpose and enjoyment. But if you can find work that brings you joy most of the time, along with your friends and family, that’s what life’s all about.

We need purpose, but the concept is often misunderstood.

Purpose is not something we find. Purpose is not a single thing. Purpose is not static

Find ways to get outside of your comfort zone. Find ways to build people up. Find ways to say yes. Live your life, not someone else’s.

Business takeaways

For those who wanted more business-oriented content to take back to their organizations, Friday also offered important reminders.

Among them was to be sure to read your financial statements. In her session, Wipfli trainer Ciara Leahy conveyed the significance of each piece of a financial statement. She said while many nonprofit staff members and leaders may be responsible for reviewing their financials, they may not understand them. It may be because they aren’t asking the right questions of their accountants.

“If you’re not getting your organization’s financial information in a way you understand it, then you need to talk to your accountant and ask for it in a way that makes sense to you,” she said.

As a word of warning to agencies receiving grant funding: “Read your financial statements, because your funders are. You’ll need to understand and answer to them. I don’t mean to scare you, but that is kind of what we do.”

Other important takeaways Friday covered the importance of paying attention to cybersecurity threats. Nonprofits were encouraged to obtain cybersecurity insurance if they don’t already have it.

Trainer Ryan Peasley highlighted critical steps to take in the event of a breach: Isolate the computer affected (pull the plug and disconnect it from your network) and call your cybersecurity insurance team. That team should handle the rest.

“You don’t have to navigate on your own if you have cyber insurance,” he said. “If you don’t have it, for all of these things you’re on your own.”

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