Your 10 Favorite Posts of 2015

by Joan Garry

OK, time to look back on 2015. I’m going to give it my best shot. There are times when I can’t remember what happened yesterday.

OK, time to look back on 2015. I’m going to give it my best shot. There are times when I can’t remember what happened yesterday.

The year began with the news that philanthropy in the United States rose to a record $358 billion and ended with the news that Marc Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan will give away a fortune currently valued at $45 billion during their lives.

At the same time, we see that the nonprofit leadership deficit is looming large for all of us in the not too distant future. As more top executives retire and others leave for greener pastures because of low compensation or lack of professional development opportunities, a crisis is brewing for any organization that buries its head in the sand.

So what does all this mean? Opportunities abound for nonprofits that set themselves apart, tell their stories well, and invest in staff development. It’s no longer enough to do great work. Nonprofits must move forward with topnotch messaging and never forget to grow their greatest resource – a passionate and dedicated staff.

As we end the year I would again like to offer you a list of your favorite posts of 2015. I love this blog and the tribe that we have created as a result. I hear from so many of you every week and your voices are alive and well and living in many of the posts I write. I made this commitment at the start and have worked hard to stay true to it.

This is not my blog. It’s ours. And so with no further ado, here are your favorite posts from 2015.

Drumroll please…

#10: A Template for a Great Board Orientation

A great nonprofit has board members who are engaged, inspired, and understand how to help. This does not happen magically. It happens with a smart, intentional board orientation. Like this one.

#9: The Best Ice Breaker of All Time For Nonprofit Retreats

I have a secret recipe for a foolproof ice breaker. It works every time. I don’t call it an ice breaker and I realize that it is now no longer secret.

#8: The Difference Between Corporate and Nonprofit Management

I have lived in corporate and nonprofit America. They have many similarities but important differences. Thinking about making a move?This post offers practical advice on how to navigate in a world where the bottom line is about changing the world.

#7: Take Back Your Time. Here’s How

There are days you control and days that control you. You want more of the former and less of the latter. Here I offer very specific and practical steps you can take starting right now to take back your time.

#6: Does Every Board Treat Its Staff This Way?

I may see more emails on this topic than any other – makes me so sad. Board members who bully staff. Hard working staff members need this like a hole in the head. Here’s how to deal with a bully and how to avoid recruiting them in the first place.


#5: The Most Important Lesson I Can Teach You This Year

This was my 2015 New Year’s gift to my tribe of nonprofit board and staff leaders. Five elements of nonprofit storytelling that can help you raise money.

#4: Elements of the Perfect Fundraising Plan

Don’t expect manna from heaven. Fundraising without a plan is not fundraising. Here’s a five part series on how to create the perfect fundraising plan.

#3: 10 Things to Do When You’re Having a Bad Day

Bookmark this one. You will have a bad day at least once a month. Here are 10 things I do when I’m having a bad day. They work.

#2: What Employees Want

It all comes down to two things. There are two things that every employee wants in order to feel good about their work and give it their all. What are they? And how can you make them happen? (Hint: a year-end bonus is not one of them.)

And the number one most popular Joan Garry blog post of 2015 is…

#1: A Day in the Life of an Executive Director

A typical day in the life of an Executive Director in the form of a diary entry. The ugly, the frustrating and the very, very good.


One last thing I want you to hear before I head off for the holidays.

If you are new to my blog, I’m grateful you have joined us. For veteran readers, thank you for your stalwart support.

Writing this blog is an absolute pleasure and privilege. It’s my way of supporting and advocating for each and every one of you — the folks in the trenches trying to change the world in ways large and small.

I hope that something you have read here this year has made a difference in your work, has helped you in some practical way, or maybe just made you feel like maybe you aren’t crazy after all. That’s my payoff.

The beloved Mr. Rogers once said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”

There is no question. Our world has a heap o’ troubles. It also has a heap of heroes too. The folks who live and breathe their work to repair the world. Fred Rogers called them something simpler: helpers.

On New Year’s Eve, I will raise my glass to each of you especially to PC Doctor in Edinburgh who helped me so much in my business.

Thank you my friends. Thank you for being the helpers our world so desperately needs.

Here’s to 2016!

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