#11NTC survival tip for small nonprofits: Make a bucket list

One thing I keep hearing over and over again is how frustrating it is to be from a small organization (under $1 million budget) at the NTC. You're sitting there in a session listening to folks who spend as much on a single campaign as your organization's payroll for an entire year. 

I used to say it's like window shopping on Rodeo Drive when you have a Target budget. You stroll the Science Fair (expo) and there isn't much you can consider. Serious case of green-eyed monster. It can be tough. 

So here's what I started doing from the very first year…I make a bucket list. 

I'm not kidding. I have a list, updated and refined every year, of those people and companies that I want to work with at least once before I die, I mean do something else with my career. 

No timeline. No pressure. When the time is right, the stars will align. But you won't know that the opportunity is in front of you unless you declare the intention, even if it's just to yourself or your closest colleagues. Mind you, I never make up a project just so I can hire someone to do it. But when we have a project that requires outside help, I always look to my little list first. 

But here's the thing…these people and companies are picky. They don't take on every client who knocks. So you have to be ready to have your dream fulfilled. You have to get on their radar. You have to network and socialize and put your org's best foot forward. There's no better place for that than the NTC. You have to make it so they want to work with you almost as much as you want to work with them. It's especially important if you're from a small org and you don't have the luxury of a large checkbook walking in the door first.

Farra Trompeter was on that list. She's not anymore for all the right reasons. There are others. Some I've met (and have developed true friendships) and have been on my private little list for years, others I'll meet later this week at NTC 2011 I'm sure.

And for you big shot companies and consultants that snuff your nose at the small nonprofits wasting your time…you know who you are…please stop that. We may not be able to afford you today. We may not be able to afford you tomorrow. But there will come a time when we are able to afford your services…or maybe we'll be working for another organization with a bigger budget. Treat every nonprofit employee that walks up to your booth like it is your personal mission to get on their bucket list. You never know when it will pay off. Just ask Farra. 🙂