Viewing post categorized under: Non-Profit Musings

SAFE Coalition for Human Rights Conference 2018 Experience

The SAFE Coalition for Human Rights Conference 2018 held at the historic Palmer House hotel in the heart of Chicago brought together a variety of respected abolitionists from all over the world. This conference made me realize more than ever that the fight against human trafficking is very interdisciplinary: law enforcement, politicians, educators, non-profit leaders, healthcare professionals, first responders, counselors, psychologists, social workers, and more are all on the front lines of this fight. There are many different types of professionals working on the issue from different angles and meeting different needs. I made friends with a lot of amazing people from around the world, some of whom have received national and international awards for their efforts.

One of the most impactful points of the conference came from someone I wouldn’t have expected: a finance professional working on anti-human trafficking for the US government. He said in the anti-trafficking world, we talk a lot of about stopping trafficking, but how do we actually do that? We need traffickers to WANT to stop trafficking for it to ever truly stop. Why do traffickers do what they do? Money. Selling human beings is profitable. He said we must disrupt the human trafficking market so much that the market risk is too high for it to be profitable anymore. When, the one-stop-shop for sex buyers, was shut down earlier this year, approximately 70% of traffickers’ revenue stream was disrupted he said. Traffickers are hurting. He and his team participate in undercover group chats with real traffickers, and they were all discussing taking legal action because the closure was affecting their business so much. This really opened my eyes to the fact that the power to end human trafficking really lies in attacking their profits. Every other anti-trafficking effort either seeks to prevent people from falling into this evil or restore people once they have been traumatized by this evil. In other words, it’s taking some people out of the human trafficking cycle but the cycle will still exist as long as there are profits to be made.

I’m not a humanist. I believe humans are all inherently flawed and will always find ways to abuse each other as we have seen throughout history. I believe hope is found in realizing you have the power to change someone else’s reality by your choices to love them. No matter what great advances are made in anti-trafficking around the world, we cannot definitively say no one will ever traffick another human again. We CAN each say I will do everything I can to prevent it from happening to those in my sphere of influence and restore those in my sphere of influence to a healthy life. I came away from the conference energized and with a greater understanding of where my work in my corner of the world fits into the global fight.

How to Build Collaboration into the Life of your Non-Profit: Look for Shared Mission

Collaboration between non-profits is essential to serving the community better in a more unified way. We who work or volunteer in non-profits all have fantastic intentions to love and serve the community, but sometimes we shoot ourselves in the foot and limit our potential for impact by not working together on projects that fit within the scope of our individual missions.

This idea was solidified in my mind during a presentation Young Non-Profit Professionals Network hosted this month featuring a group of seasoned fundraisers from Lakeland University in Sheboygan. One of the fundraisers asserted that Sheboygan County has too many non-profits, and we need to work together to be effective. I balked at first at the statement that we have “too many” as if it is a bad thing that lots of people are wanting to help the community through various causes. Then I started to understand her point that when we are divided so much that we can’t effectively conquer the issues in our community, that’s a problem.

Freedom Cry has been committed to collaboration with other non-profits from the beginning, with our mission statement communicating this goal: working IN PARTNERSHIP with our community and others to break the cycle of human trafficking in Sheboygan County, WI through prevention and support resources. One example of how we collaborated with other organizations happened in June of 2017 when the Hope’s Hearts project was born. Freedom Cry reached out to the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Horizons4Girls, and the STARS program to collaborate on launching this project. It worked really well. The project got off to a great start and is still going strong a year later. To read more about Hope’s Hearts, please go to our website

Another great Hope’s Hearts project collaboration was born a few weeks ago. I met the executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters Sheboygan as she presented to the Charitable Giving Committee at JOA of which I am a part. The director mentioned in her presentation that the organization likes to work together with other organizations to provide activities for their adult mentors to do with the youth they mentor, especially because male mentors feel less awkward out in public with children if they have a shared activity to do together. I immediately recognized this as a golden opportunity for Freedom Cry to collaborate with them, so after the meeting I connected the executive director with leaders at Freedom Cry and the John Michael Kohler Arts Center to see if we could have Big Brothers Big Sisters mentors and youth come to the Art Center to work on Hope’s Hearts together. To convince the executive director, I explained how Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Hope’s Hearts project have very similar missions to build up and encourage hurting youth. I communicated to them that we are all working toward a very similar goal but just coming at it from different angles. Mentoring at-risk (or better put at-hope) youth is ESSENTIAL to preventing human trafficking because traffickers prey on the vulnerability that comes from instability and trauma in a young person’s life. The executive director agreed to come and check out what we are doing with Hope’s Hearts to see what a collaboration with us would look like.

After reflecting on these successful collaborations, I’m even more inspired to keep looking for mission overlaps and collaboration opportunities as I’m out in the world networking with other non-profit leaders.

Learning to Delegate: It’s a Skill

I used to be bad at delegating. In college, I was always the leader of group projects. I wanted an A on every project and wouldn’t accept anything less. I couldn’t let the fate of my grade be decided by others who I deemed less competent or hard working. When things didn’t get done, I would do them myself. I lived the old saying, “If you want it done right, do it yourself.” I got my desired result (I graduated with perfect grades), but I came out of college somewhat distrusting of others’ ability to get things done in the workplace.

Fast forward to almost 6 years into my career as a technical writer. Freedom Cry, the non-profit I volunteer for, was starting to cast the vision for 2018 and it included creating a lot of project teams, one of which I would be the leader of. As I thought about this much-needed change to our organizational structure, I realized that I would have to face my lack of practice in delegating. Up until this point, I had done almost all the external writing and communication projects myself in addition to internal technical writing and record keeping. I would get projects requested of me and sit alone somewhere pounding on my computer until they were completed. This had to change.

I held my first team meeting and came prepared with a list of assignments. I asked my teammates for a refresher on their skills and how they wanted to contribute. I had heard that a good way to manage people is to tell them what is needed and give them the parameters of the project and the resources needed to complete it before setting them loose. That’s what I did. It worked really well. One of my team members even requested that I don’t demand updates constantly on the work she is doing and just let her get to a point in her project where she is ready to send me a really good first draft. I successfully resisted micro-managing.

I’m not the only one who has struggled with delegating. It’s a skill that requires practice, especially for certain personality types. Last month, I attended a presentation from Dr. Alan Patterson who has more than three decades of international consulting experience in change management, leadership development, and executive coaching and has worked with a lot of major household name companies. One of his comments really stuck with me. He said Achiever personality types (of which according to the CliftonStrength Finders test, I am one) really struggle with delegation because they focus on going deep technically within their profession and getting so good at the details that they don’t trust someone else to do the work. He said when these people are given managerial or leadership roles, they often struggle to take their hands off of the details of projects and invest in coaching others. I immediately thought of myself and the transition I’m slowly making to a more managerial type role within Freedom Cry and the excellent growing experience it has been for me.

Do you also struggle with delegation? What experiences can you give yourself to help you grow in this area?

Sheboygan County Chamber of Commerce Focal Point Panel Discussion

I was invited to attend a focal point panel discussion at the Sheboygan Chamber of Commerce with the four other Sheboygan County Athena Award finalists of 2017 to discuss our thoughts on leadership and mentoring. There were heartfelt stories, tears, tips, and comradery as we gave our audience glimpses into our varied experiences.

One of the honored women was a theater major with an entrepreneurial spirit fostered by a desire to help her young son with his learning disability through playing board games. She created her own unique board game rental business. Another honoree was a lawyer who dreamed of being an FBI agent until circumstances got in her way. Another was a school district superintendent who dared to believe in programs for her kids that would have been cut otherwise. The woman sitting next to me was the HR director for Sargento Foods. She requires that her employees have fun at work, and if they aren’t having fun, she asks them to leave for the day. I was captured by how different our life experiences were, and how we each act as mentors and leaders in our own unique ways.

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