This is the first in our five-part series, Lessons on Leadership, authored by Executive Director Eliza Pesuit as she celebrates her 10-year anniversary leading Global Glimpse. If you have not started from the beginning, click here to watch the short introduction.
It is critical to maintain a clear focus on your mission and understand how it is positioned within the greater market or industry. It can be tempting to chase dollars, chase press, and launch new initiatives to garner favor. Don’t be seduced by shiny things, all that glitters isn’t gold. Organizations crumble when they lack focus.
Dream big, but keep a laser focus on the day to day actions that build a strong foundation for your organization. Put your energy where it has the greatest impact and build in a regular practice of connecting with other organizations in your space to learn about different approaches, challenges, and areas of opportunity or overlap. Competition in the nonprofit sector is a false construct and it can be toxic. Avoid it. Nonprofit leaders should operate from a place of abundance, not scarcity, and work to support collective action and impact.
At Global Glimpse we recognized a decade ago that there was a tremendous gap in the travel industry. The youth travel market was growing at a record rate and an international perspective was becoming a requisite for college and career success, but no organization was dedicated to serving students from low-income backgrounds. There was a lot of talk about the achievement gap in education, but few people were talking about the link between opportunity and achievement or what could be done about it. Diversity and access were our differentiators from day one and we built our financial and programmatic models to support those differentiators.
Over time we made strategic decisions to build and expand a sliding scale earned revenue model that diversified our student body and increased our financial sustainability, but we never wavered in our commitment to serve majority low-income students. Shifts in the model were only viable to the extent that they served our mission. We set a clear vision and we evaluated each opportunity with a focus on immediate and long term ROI (return on investment) towards our mission.
As Global Glimpse continues to grow, we are keenly aware that every decision we make carries weight and should be handled with responsibility. We plan for growth and we hustle hard after every opportunity, but we do not pursue anything that is not in line with our mission. We know that we must balance new opportunities with the powerful niche we have carved out for our work.
Key Takeaways: Do Your Homework. Find the Gap in the Market. Align Passion with Need. Stay Laser-Focused on Your Mission. Don’t Chase Dollars.
Click here for the next in our series, Lessons on Leadership: Secure Your Finances.