What’s your plan? Estes Park
avatar

Submitted by Kay Rosenthal PhD RN and EPNRC volunteer

What's your plan EP
Posted in General Nonprofit Information | Comments Off on What’s your plan? Estes Park

Leadership: It’s what you make of it!
avatar

Leadership:  It’s what you make of it!

Submitted by Kay Rosenthal PhD RN and EPNRC volunteer

Naphtili Hoff shared the parable of the pencil-maker in his article Leadership: It’s what you make of it. When you think of leadership what do you think? As a leader do you see leadership as bossing the employees around or working with the employees as engaged team members? Do you see yourself as the only who knows the best action to take or do you get input from the employees? Do you lead from the top down or the bottom up? This parable is simple yet speaks volumes. I hope you will continue reading and review how you are as a leader.

“A parable is told about a pencil-maker who was preparing to put an important pencil in a box. Before doing so, though, he took the pencil aside. “There are five things you need to know,” he said. “If you can remember these five things, you will become the best pencil you can be.”

You will be able to do many great things, but only if you allow yourself to in someone else’s hand.

  1.  Sharpening is painful, but it is critical if you want to write sharply.
  2. Since you have an eraser, you can correct most mistakes you make, though some may be harder to erase than others.
  3. Remember, it’s what’s inside that’s most important.
  4. Whatever surface you‘re on, make sure you leave your mark. No matter how hard, rough, or easy, you must continue to write.

This parable shares powerful lessons for every leader:

  1. Be humble. You can achieve greatness, but not when you go it alone. Allow yourself to be taught and coached by others and identify the strengths of those around you to help advance the cause.
  2. Stay sharp. Strong leaders find ways to keep learning and sharpening their skills. Feedback can be painful at times, but without it, you will become dull.
  3. Accept mistakes. We all err. Though mistakes may make for challenging moments, they are ultimately part of a process of becoming a better leader. Embrace your mistakes as opportunities to learn, erase, and become better! As John Maxwell once said, “A good leader is a person who takes a little more than his share of the blame and a little less than his share of the credit.”
  4. Your best is what’s inside you. You may be good-looking, dress well, and have a great personality. But what makes you who you are and the person with whom others want to connect is your character. Seek to continually grow and refine your character so that you can lead and serve with utmost integrity.
  5. Stick with it. There will be times when you think that you’re making no imprint and that your actions are not having an effect. But people will still depend on you, so you need to keep on going. Hold to your vision and your dreams, even when it seems they have dimmed.


In a 1913 address to students at Swarthmore College, Woodrow Wilson said, ‘You are not here merely to make a living. You are here to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.’”

Go out and enrich the world. We need leaders with this perspective!

For the full article please visit the source:  http://smartbrief.com/original/2017/07/leadership-its-what-you-make-it?utm_source=brief

Posted in Boards and Governance, Professional development | Comments Off on Leadership: It’s what you make of it!

The Current and Future State of Nonprofit Philanthropy
avatar

The Current and Future State of Nonprofit Philanthropy

Submitted by Kay Rosenthal PhD, RN-Guest blogger, EPNRC Volunteer

Jill Lancaster, Executive Director of EPNRC, shared an email with me that she got from Keilah Keiser.  Keiser works with universities across the country to help distribute their program research, case studies and data visualizations. Keiser shared a resource from the University of San Francisco that I found very interesting as it explains the projected growth of charitable giving, how online donations have created new opportunities for philanthropic organizations, the types of volunteering that is occurring and exciting philanthropic trends to monitor.

For example, did you know that since 1970, charitable giving has risen faster than the stock market?  Were you aware that the total contributions are expected to surpass $50 trillion by 2025?

The resource from the University of San Francisco explains the projected growth of charitable giving, how online donations have created new opportunities for philanthropic organizations, types of volunteering and exciting philanthropic trends to monitor.

Nonprofits struggle with the increased need for services although there are limited resources to provide these services.  However, there is good news.  The University of San Francisco’s academic resource show that fundraising numbers continue to increase, providing nonprofits with new or expanded opportunities. I have shared a few of the highlights from their resource in the hopes that you will be able to leverage these opportunities for optimal benefit. Knowing how fundraising is evolving, and the types of donors to target as well as identifying the best medium for reaching them will help enhance your fundraising efforts.

Highlights of the infographic:

  •  In 2015 Americans gave $373.25 Billion
  • The top 3 recipients of charitable dollars are religion (32%), education (15%) and Human Services (12%)
  • Philanthropy projections through 2052 are estimated to be between $21.2-$55.4 Trillion
  • Across the nation the most common volunteer activities are: fundraising (25.7%), food collection or distribution (23.8%).
  • In 2013, 100 of the largest charities reported receiving 13% more in online donations
    *25 of these charities collected more than $10 million each in 2013 from online gifts
  • 64.5 Million adults volunteer = 7.9 Billion hours of service and estimated worth of $175 Billion

Trends to watch:

  • Donor Loyalty – invest more time in dialogue and in cultivating current donor base
  • Crowdfunding- invest in their social media presence
  • New Communication Tools- expand employee skills in new media
  • Specific Projects Focus- report back to the donors on project progress and outcomes
  • Mobile Giving- learn how to make everything mobile friendly
  • Modern philanthropy- recognize the distinct mission of large-scale social enterprise.”

Please read the full document at http://onlinempadegree.usfca.edu/news-resources/infographics/the-current-and-future-state-of-nonprofit-philanthropy/

Source:  Onelinempadegree.usfca.edu

I hope you and your organization can use this information to enhance your donations.  Good Luck! K

Posted in Donor Relations, Fundraising | Comments Off on The Current and Future State of Nonprofit Philanthropy

8 Practices for a more Emotionally Just Organization
avatar

Submitted by Kay Rosenthal PhD, RN-Guest blogger, EPNRC Volunteer

8 Practices for a more Emotionally Just Organization

By Agustinav
Rockwood Leadership Institute

Vacation time in the Rockies! But some of you are still working during the summer. Your to-do list might include: Reviewing operational policies and procedures; analyzing progress or creating new fiscal year budgets; evaluating hiring practices, but have you considered looking at emotional justice?  I am including this article from the Icarus Project in full and encourage you to think of ways that you can incorporate emotional justice at your organizations.

“When I (Agustinav) worked in the human rights movement, I often heard the phrase, ”There are no human rights for human rights workers.” Because we had life-saving jobs, we felt like we would put people at risk if we took any time for ourselves. There was a double standard: workers gave intensive support to the people who came to us, but were denied a fair or just workplace ourselves. We were spread thin, and there were no mechanisms in place for protecting our emotional well-being.

Unfortunately, this kind of culture is all too common in many social justice organizations, despite the fact that giving all of ourselves to the job, and to others, isn’t sustainable or conducive to wellness.

At my current workplace The Icarus Project, we believe that social justice begins at home. Our work on mental health has led us to deeply interrogate the ways we reproduce oppression in our movements, and identify what we can do to dismantle harmful cultural beliefs and practices in the workplace.

That’s why, within our organization, emotional justice is more important than productivity. We define emotional justice as policies that protect the emotional well-being of our staff by centering anti-oppressive and trauma-informed practices in our workplace. For us, it’s better to move slower together than to move fast and leave our friends behind.

If you’re interested in shifting your organization’s culture in this direction, here are eight practices The Icarus Project uses to be emotionally just:

  1. Embrace different ways of being: Some people communicate better on the phone, and others by email. Some are project-based, and some need to clock hours. Because we know we all work differently, we trust in each staff member’s work process, and give everyone the independence to fulfill their tasks in the way that works best for them.
  1. Emotional Honesty: In our workspace, we feel safe to communicate promptly about emotional needs without feeling like we’re being difficult or inconvenient. We support self-honesty, self-awareness, and community care by encouraging staff to create safety plans: information about stress and trauma responses, ways others can show care and support, and people to contact in case of crisis. This allows us to better support staff and keep them in our movements, instead of marginalizing them or burning them out.
  1. Emotional Check-Ins: When a member of our organization is struggling, they feel safe to say so without fear of negative consequences. This also allows us to keep working effectively, because we’re able to shift tasks and responsibilities to support the health and well-being of our coworkers while still getting the job done.
  1. Evaluations That Uplift: We have quarterly evaluations that uplift our employees and help advance the workflow of the organization. Instead of judging how well a person did their job, we ask questions like, “Was the workload realistic for you?”, “Do you need support to finish your tasks?”, “Do you need training, skillshares, or a shift in how a project or program operates?” Sometimes support might just be creating space for someone to figure out how they can manage their workplan. This is part of any healthy collective management arrangement, and can also be implemented in more traditional hierarchies.
  1. Realistic Workplans: It’s been said that when you chase two rabbits, you lose both of them. Realistic workload improves emotional health, so we prioritize goals, and choose programs and tasks that can be done realistically in the amount of time we have. Everything else, we allow ourselves to table or leave behind.
  1. Work flexibility: Life keeps moving even when we’re at work – pipes burst, people move, babies are born. That’s why it’s important to provide flexibility for those moments that may require staff members to take time off work. We offer parental leave, bereavement, sick days, and a certain number of free days that people are able to take as needed.
  1. Time Off:When our organization gets particularly busy or the work becomes stressful, we encourage staff to take time off in order to recharge. We recognize that a job is only one part of a person’s life, and our organization won’t stop functioning just because people take time off. We also know that when employees pursue hobbies, enjoy leisure, and spend time with their families, they’re often more productive as a result.
  1. Trust & accountability: We trust that our co-workers will manage themselves, strive for their best, and will utilize our generous policies respectfully. Self-honesty, self-disclosure, and self-accountability are the cornerstone of an emotionally just organization.

There are many ways to create nurturing work environments, so we invite you to explore what might work best for your organization.

Emotional justice is an important – but often overlooked – part of social justice, and it may be a key to our liberation.

The Icarus Project is a support network and education project by and for people who experience the world in ways that are often diagnosed as mental illness. They advance social justice by fostering mutual aid practices that reconnect healing and collective liberation, and believe that we transform ourselves through transforming the world around us. Learn more at theicarusproject.net

Citation:
www.rockwoodleadership.org/8-practices-emotionally-just-organization-guest-post

Posted in Wellness | Comments Off on 8 Practices for a more Emotionally Just Organization

Branding Your Email
avatar

Submitted by Kay Rosenthal PhD, RN-Guest blogger, EPNRC Volunteer

Branding Your Email

Are you familiar with branding your email as a concept?  If not, check out mailchimp, sigbop, constant contact, verisign, brandmymail, cantaloupe, network for good, vertical response to name a few services that are available.  Just search Google and read on.

Here’s an example from Constant Contact that is informative.  Note: I’m not trying to sell you anything.  I just wanted to give you an example.

Here are six tips from Constant Contact:

“1. Add your logo

You can easily upload and store your logo in your Constant Contact account. Make sure to position your logo at the top of an email you send out so that it’s one of the first things people see when they click to open.

2. Customize your colors

You don’t have to guess which colors fit your brand. Tools like Color Cop for PC users, or Digital Color Meter for Macs, allow you to pull the RGB or Hex value of the colors on your website or in your logo. You can then enter these values into your Constant Contact account and we’ll provide the colors that match.

3. Use consistent fonts

When choosing fonts for your emails, it’s typically best to keep things simple. Using too many different fonts can make your emails look messy and distract readers from the message you want to get across.

4. Add visuals

Your email should have an eye-catching image that pulls the reader in and makes them want to pay attention. One of the best places to find photos that help with branding will be on your social media sites.

Constant Contact customers can integrate their accounts with Facebook and Instagram, and easily add photos to the emails they send out.

Choose photos that help people get to know, like, and trust your business — like photos of your staff, products, or loyal customers.

5. Include relevant links

In addition to the links you include for people to take action on your emails, (shop online, donate, register, etc.) you should also include links to places like your website and social channels so that people can connect with you beyond the inbox and learn more about what you have to offer.

With an email template, you can easily add social media buttons that link directly to your FacebookTwitterLinkedInPinterest, or Instagram accounts.

6. Find your voice

This one can take a little practice, but as you continue to send emails on a regular basis you really need to think about the “voice” you use in the messages you send out.

After all, your brand isn’t just about the look of your messages; it’s also reflected in the content that you write.

Take a look at some of your recent emails. Are you using a consistent voice that’s reflective of the type of service your business offers? Does it sound like it’s coming from you, or could it be mistaken for an email from any other company?

Finding your voice will help your emails better connect with your readers and strengthen your brand in the process.”

For the full article by Ryan Pinkham’s Jan 4, 2017 titled, How to Brand Your Emails So That You Look Like a Pro in the Inbox please go to https://blogs.constantcontact.com/how-to-brand-your-email/

P.S. Send me an email so I can check it out! K

 

 

Posted in Marketing | Comments Off on Branding Your Email

The Health Benefits of Volunteering
avatar

Submitted by Kay Rosenthal PhD, RN-Guest blogger, EPNRC Volunteer

The Health Benefits of Volunteering

April is National Volunteer Month!  Hope you are out there volunteering!  Not just for the organization but for yourselfJ  Did you know there are health benefits to volunteering!  Not just feeling good …but physically – feeling good!

“Older volunteers are most likely to receive greater health benefits from volunteering. Research has found that volunteering provides older adults, (those age 60 or older), with greater benefits than younger volunteers.

These benefits include improved physical and mental health and greater life satisfaction. In addition, while depression may serve as a barrier to volunteer participation in mid-life adults, it is a catalyst for volunteering among older adults, who may seek to compensate for role changes and attenuated social relations that occur with aging. (Li and Ferraro, 2006; Van Willigen, 2000)

Volunteers must meet a “volunteering threshold” to receive significant health benefits. When considering the relationship of the frequency of volunteering to improved health benefits, researchers have found that there is a “volunteering threshold” for health benefits. That is to say, volunteers must be engaged in a certain amount of volunteering in order to derive health benefits from the volunteer activities. Once that threshold is met, no additional health benefits are acquired by doing volunteering more.

The definition of considerable volunteering has been variously defined by these studies as 1) volunteering with two or more organizations; 2) 100 hours or more of volunteer activities per year; and 3) at least 40 hours of volunteering per year. (Oman et al., 1999; Lum and Lightfoot, 2005; Luoh and Herzog, 2002; Musick et al., 1999)

Volunteering leads to greater life satisfaction and lower rates of depression. Evidence indicates that volunteering has a positive effect on social psychological factors, such as a personal sense of purpose and accomplishment, and enhances a person’s social networks to buffer stress and reduce disease risk. (Herzog et al., 1998; Greenfield and Marks, 2004; Harlow and Cantor, 1996) …..

RESEARCH IMPLICATIONS Studies of the relationship between volunteering and health demonstrate that there is a significant relationship between volunteering and good health: when older adults volunteer, they not only help their community but also experience better health in later years, whether in terms of greater longevity, higher functional ability, or lower rates of depression. “

So if you aren’t out there volunteering already– start making calls- there are plenty of organizations in Estes Park that need you to be a volunteer. You’ll be happy and healthy as a result.  Take care, K

For the full document go to https://www.nationalservice.gov/sites/default/files/documents/07_0506_hbr_brief.pdf

Tips for Volunteering

Below are general tips for individuals interested in volunteering, as well as broken down by specific age category.
10 Tips on Becoming a Volunteer (32 KB PDF)
Tips for Youth Who Want to Volunteer (30 KB PDF)
Tips for Boomers Who Want to Volunteer (30 KB PDF)
Tips for College Students Who Want to Volunteer (31 KB PDF)
Tips for Families Who Want to Volunteer (29 KB PDF)

Posted in Volunteers, Wellness | Comments Off on The Health Benefits of Volunteering

“Are You Honoring Your Small-Dollar Donors?”
avatar

Submitted by Kay Rosenthal PhD, RN-Guest blogger, EPNRC Volunteer

“Are You Honoring Your Small-Dollar Donors?”

Pamela Word wrote, “Are You Honoring Your Small-Dollar Donors?” for Nonprofit Pro.
“You need more major donors, right? And lately it seems like mid-level fundraising and major gift fundraising are all the rage. The experts are hammering the point home that smaller nonprofits aren’t raising major gifts (duh), and there has seemingly been an influx of major gift fundraising classes too.

Of course, who wouldn’t want Oprah or Ellen to notice their organization and put them on the map? Or have the local billionaire step up, out of the blue, to write a check?

But you know better, don’t you? Fundraising isn’t about asking rich people for money.

Fundraising is about the systems that take your first-time donor…to lifetime donor.

Your organization’s major donors are, after all, right in your backyard. Yep, they’re already in your donor database, and you just have to know how to work them. Here’s the 411: If you’re not honoring your first-time or small-dollar donors and if your systems are broken, you’re going to have a hard time getting from here…to there.

What does your donor experience when he or she makes that first online gift? What if it’s “only” a $10 gift?

What systems do you have in place to understand your new donor’s motivations and to bring in the second gift?…

Ask yourself these questions:

1. Are you getting your “thank you” letters out promptly?…

2. Are you making those donor “thank you” calls?…

3. What does your “thank you” email look like?…

4. What do you know about your donor’s motivation for making a gift? …

5. What systems do you have in place for welcoming new donors?

Fundraiser Karen Fromel recently noted: “I have numbers from our new donor welcome packet for January through October of last year. The welcome packet is a thank you letter, a bookmark and a brochure. There has been a 47 percent capture rate since Jan. 1, 2016. This has resulted in a 163 percent increase in donations from their first gift. Some donors have given as many as eight times since their initial gift.”

Get your board and staff involved in the gratitude process because it’s everyone’s job to be present when it comes to communicating gratitude to the supporters who make your wonderful work possible….

Remember, at the heart of major donor fundraising lies donor retention. Pure and simple.

Take a cue from Brittany’s Hope Foundation and run with it. Three years ago during a session of mystery shopping, I made several online gifts to a number of small nonprofit organizations, and Brittany’s Hope was one of them. Imagine my surprise and delight when I received a “thank you” phone call merely 15 minutes later from their executive director. The crazy good feelings and vibes didn’t stop there, though, and neither did my giving. I’m now a monthly donor at the $35 level. Though I’m far from being a major gift supporter by any nonprofit’s standards, Brittany’s Hope makes me feel like a major donor because they’ve cared about our relationship from day one.

Mai-Lynn Abel Sahd, MSW, executive director of Brittany’s Hope, explains the organization’s donor philosophy best:

“No matter the gift (large or small), all gifts are important and special to us here at Brittany’s Hope. Whether we receive a donation for $35 or $5,000, we make sure we recognize, thank and welcome all those who support us. Of course, a large donation warrants a detailed report and may be recognized with naming rights (i.e. project plague), but a continuous monthly support is just as valuable in our eyes. This may sound cliché, but our communication and place of importance are equally the same for all our donors regardless of dollar amount. The term “small donor” is never used here at our office when segmenting our donors; quite simply, we do not measure our donors based on the dollar amount, rather on their vested interest, time, talent, passion and resources.

In many cases, what could be considered as a “small” or “mid-size” donor typically gives a larger percentage of their income than a “large” donor. Also, at our organization, this group holds the highest retention rate and is our strongest advocate in spreading the mission. That is not to say one donor segment is more important than another, rather all donors represent a different quality and attribute. Therefore, all deserve the same time and respect.

I truly believe the secret behind our donor success lies within the personal relationship and authenticity with our donors.”…”

I hope this brief highlight of Pamela’s blog will entice you to read the entire article at www.nonprofitpro.com/post/honoring-small-dollar-donors/. Check out her sample thank you letter.  Get more ideas on how to recruit, welcome and retain donors.  If you have strategies that have been successful share your comments with others by commenting below.

 

Thanks!

K

Kay Rosenthal PhD RN

Posted in Donor Relations | Comments Off on “Are You Honoring Your Small-Dollar Donors?”

How to gain more experience in less time!
avatar

Submitted by Kay Rosenthal PhD, RN-Guest blogger, EPNRC Volunteer

Naphtali Hoff, PsyD, an executive coach and organizational consultant, wrote, “How to gain more experience in less time”. Isn’t that what we’re all looking for? Ways to do more with less time! Here are parts of his blog that shares how to gain experience in decision making as a leader without making tons of mistakes along the way….

“A story is told about a reporter who was interviewing a successful bank president. He wanted to know the secret of the man’s success. “Two words,” he was told, “right decisions.”

“And how do you make right decisions?” asked the reporter. The reply: “One word: experience.”

The reporter pressed on. “And how do you get experience?” he asked. To which the banker replied, “Two words: wrong decisions.”

We all recognize the importance of job and life experience, especially for leaders. Experience gives leaders context for important decisions that they must make and insight into how best to lead, motivate and respond to their people. Experienced leaders have been through the wringer before and can use their past learning and decisions to guide them moving forward.

Yet, for many new leaders, experience can be hard to come by. And in today’s fast-changing, competitive environment in which more and more young people are assuming leadership roles, it can be critical for them to find ways to gain experience quickly in order to ensure that they make as few “wrong decisions” as possible, for their own sake as well as for those that they lead.

What can new and aspiring leaders do to gain the benefits of experience when they simply don’t have much on-the-job learning under their belts?

  1. Go for training.
  2. Volunteer.
  3. Find a mentor/peer group.
  4. Read/watch leadership experts.
  5. Reflect and take notes.
  6. Ask for feedback.

Confucius once said, “By three methods we may learn wisdom: first, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.”

Every new leader would be wise to take the necessary steps to gain as much wisdom as possible without having to endure the bitterness of wrong decisions.”

I have always learned a lot by going to conferences and seminars and networking at those events. Making sure to apply what I learned. Being a volunteer in different organizations and tossing out my ideas and trying new things to see how they play out has helped as well. Working with a mentor is a fabulous way to avoid some pitfalls as you learn from a person with more experience. You can also reach out to leadership experts and read more about them or watch them on YouTube or TED talks. I always take notes so I can go back to see what I learned and reflect on if it’s “stuck” in my head for future use or if I need to keep reviewing my notes. And finally I agree with Dr Hoff that asking for feedback will be beneficial. Keep in mind that the only way this works is if you use the information you are given so that you are able to grow into the leader you strive to be.

Good Luck in all your endeavors,
Kay Rosenthal PhD, RN

For the full article go to: http://smartbrief.com/original/2017/02/how-gain-more-experience-less-time

Posted in Professional development | Comments Off on How to gain more experience in less time!

Altruism…..
avatar

Submitted by Kay Rosenthal PhD, RN – Guest blogger, EPNRC volunteer

Altruism….

In January I blogged about “Karma Yoga”, being of service without seeking personal benefit in return.

In February I am sharing highlights from Tony Stubblebine, founder of Coach.me.  He talks about “ten science-backed reasons for altruism”.  A few were new to me. Others are reminders of things we have heard but might forgot to do.

  • “Generosity…. cooperation or even allowing others higher payoffs” are more successful strategies than attempting to dominate others.
  • “Be the first to speak up in a meeting – and say something positive about someone else”.  WOW!  That’s a lovely idea!  What a great way to start a meeting on a positive note!
  • Want to “lower your blood pressure and increase your psychological well-being”?  Volunteering your time and skills is shown to improve your health.
  • By your role modeling altruistic behaviors your children will “feel better, behave better, and reduce bullying”. Anything we can do as adults to reduce bullying in schools and in our own workplaces will make a positive impact on our lives and on the lives of others.
  • I think we have all heard it is “better to give than to receive”. Tony says that “Spending money on others can increase your happiness more than spending it on yourself”.
  • Have you noticed that when you do good deeds in the workplace it makes you happier and more satisfied as an employee?
  • Are you “paying it forward”? Like in the TV ad where you see one person doing something nice so that person does something nice to the next person they encounter and it goes on and on.  Tony says that, “Witnessing acts of altruism makes people more likely to be altruistic themselves”.
  • Want to inspire good works in others?  “Altruism is a quality of charismatic leadership”.
  • Have you heard of the “helper’s high”? “You can get an instant change in mood from altruistic acts” according to Tony.
  • “Giving to others reduces stress and can increase life expectancy”.

Which of these have you incorporated in your life?  Which one(s) will you start doing in 2017?  Think about it and let us know or show us in your next meeting. So even if you aren’t being altruistic for personal benefits it’s nice to know that you reap benefits regardless. NO harm in that!

Based on Tony Stubblebine “10 Science-Backed Reasons for Altruism” Here’s the link:  www.facebook.com/coachdotme/posts/967871763346517

 

Posted in Professional development, Wellness | Comments Off on Altruism…..

Karma Yoga, A Perfect New Year’s Resolution
avatar

Kay Rosenthal PhD, RN – Guest blogger, EPNRC volunteer

Karma Yoga, A Perfect New Year’s Resolution
By Ram Rao

Friends share the greatest insight via email and blogs. Yeah! I read this one this morning after Jill sent it to me and agreed that I needed to share it with you.

A lot of people volunteer for which many are truly grateful. This article by Ram Rao shares the positive social, emotional, and physical benefits of volunteering. The twist that this author presents is selfless voluntary service, which Ram calls “Karma Yoga.” The key points are that the service is without any expectation of something in return and providing the selfless service with a loving attitude.

Please read on for the full article.

“Karma Yoga can be loosely interpreted as a selfless voluntary service that is rendered without any personal expectation. An individual rendering selfless service puts the well-being of others as a top priority ahead of his/her personal gain or achievement, and gets rid of all egoistic tendencies while offering such a service. To be a karma yogi you need to cultivate two qualities: 1) providing the service without any expectation of reward, award, name, or fame and 2) having a loving attitude toward the selfless service.

Selfless service requires you to perform any service. At the same time you need to cultivate a loving attitude towards the selfless task without developing any stress from it, no matter what the outcome is. If you render selfless service with these qualities, you experience true happiness and satisfaction. Seek the true karma yogis and you will commonly hear them saying that the more they serve selflessly, the more true happiness they receive. Here is how Krishna puts it in Chapter 2 of the Bhagavad Gita:

“Set thy heart upon thy work, but never on its reward, Work not for a reward; but never cease to do thy work. Do thy work in the peace of Yoga and free from selfish desires, be not moved in success or failure”—translated by Juan Mascaro

This approach—performing a task without any expectation, letting go of all results, whether good or bad, and focusing on the selfless action alone—is the essence of selfless service/karma yoga. In the light of non-attachment, the selfless doer attains freedom from emotional disturbances including but not limited to desires, ambitions, fear, worry, anxiety, judgment, and rage, and this is what leads to true happiness. BKS Iyengar alludes to selfless service when he extols the benefits of karuna (compassion). Karuna or true compassion is when you couple the compassion with a selfless action that relieves the misery or suffering. A true karma yogi is one who without any expectation or reward uses all the available resources to mitigate pain, misery and suffering, provides courage and strength to the weak and, provides shelter to all. In doing so, the doer of selfless service overcomes all mental afflictions (vrittis).

It is no surprise that the authors of a recent study Is volunteering a public health intervention? A systematic review and meta-analysis of the health and survival of volunteers that compiled empirical evidence on the benefits of selfless service concluded that rendering selfless service is very good for both body and spirit (physical and mental/emotional). And it also adds years to life. The study found that selfless service—like serving food in a soup kitchen or reading to the blind—reduces early mortality rates by almost 22%, compared to those people who did not volunteer in such activities. The study, which reviewed 40 other studies on selfless service and its effects, also revealed that volunteers benefit not just from reduced rates of depression but they also experience an increased sense of life satisfaction and wellbeing—doing a selfless service made them feel good, provided them true happiness, and also led to improvements in overall health.

However, the authors also add not to expect these benefits just by offering few pennies to the charity box. True selfless service and its benefits come from going that extra mile—sacrificing time and effort to engage in an actual service. In the study, benefits were seen only among those participants that volunteered at least an hour of work once a month or those that offered their services more frequently. It is easy to understand why selfless service provides true happiness, leads to improvements in health, and extends health span (see Volunteer Work and Hedonic, Eudemonic, and Social Well-Being ). Studies have shown that doing a selfless act leads to numerous changes in the body and mind including:

· Stress reduction—when you are helping others, your body releases an important hormone called oxytocin which assists in buffering out stressful thoughts.
· Merely thinking of a selfless service releases certain “feel-good” chemicals namely dopamine that boosts the morale of the individual.
· Self-confidence—self-esteem builds and confidence levels grows when you are passionate about helping others in need.
· Helping others has shown to reverse high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, and dementia by modulating the blood flow.
To promote these advantages, the United Nations as well as many European governments are encouraging more citizens to volunteer and render selfless service. We can do our bit as well. How about committing to selfless acts on a regular basis to achieve a longer health span and bring greater fulfillment to our life? A perfect and selfless resolution for Y2017!”

I wish you a happy and healthy year of selfless service carried out with a loving attitude as you start the New Year out as a karma yogi. Please set up an hour or more a month in your new 2017 calendar now. Enjoy! Namaste.

Posted in General Nonprofit Information | Comments Off on Karma Yoga, A Perfect New Year’s Resolution