Posts by Allison Jones

The difference between not settling and not starting

Photo credit: Raywoo, Shutterstock

Photo credit: Raywoo, Shutterstock

Whenever we have an idea, it’s easy to wait for the perfect  moment to get started. You need to have enough time, the right environment, and the right resources to even begin taking action.

Unfortunately, there will never be a perfect time and your first attempt at something will likely not be perfect either. But instead of looking at challenges as setbacks, look at them as areas you need to refine as you move towards your goal.

Seth Godin, author and entrepreneur, has these words of wisdom to share:

“Of course, the only path to amazing runs directly through not-yet-amazing. But not-yet-amazing is a great place to start, because that’s where you are. For now.

There’s a big difference between not settling and not starting.”

So identify one small step you can take today on that idea that’s been brewing in your head and be OK with not being perfect.

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Five blogs to inspire you and help you take action

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Photo credit: Vima, Shutterstock

If you’re looking to change the world, you’re probably also looking for information and a community to help you get started. Of course, you can always read about people making a difference right here in our blog and some of our favorite blogs like GOOD and Lifehacker. However, there are plenty of additional blogs out there where you can find advice on how to move from intention to action. Here are a few we love with blog posts for you to explore. If you are a social entrepreneur or intrapreneur, and need help getting started or pushing through that “Am I the only one?” feeling, is a new platform for sharing ideas, stories, and resources.

Dowser: We already know what’s wrong with the world (after all, that’s why many of are working for social change) but focusing on the problems can leave even the most dedicated changemaker full of doubt. Dowser focuses on what’s working—the people, organizations, and ideas that are transforming lives for the better.

99u: Though targeted at creative professionals—although what‘s more creative than, say, creating a plan to eliminate poverty?—the purpose of this blog is to help people execute on their ideas. In addition to thoughtful articles about overcoming obstacles to action, they publish workbook with short quotes and questions to help you move forward.

Shareable: This blog is all about sharing. They believe that sharing—which demonstrates a commitment to the greater good—is at the heart of what will make the world a better place so they cover the interesting and innovate ways people are giving their time and resources to others.

Social Good Guide: OK, I’m cheating here. This one isn’t a blog so much as a can’t miss resource for scholarships, fellowships, and other educational opportunities for people who want to accelerate social and environmental change.

We know we missed a few, so share what YOU love to read in the comments below.

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How a New York City teacher stays committed to social change


Photo via Jose Vilson

Jose Vilson’s journey as an educator began during his senior year in college when, after leading a workshop on Cesar Chavez, he decided to forgo his intended career as a computer scientist and enter the field of teaching. According to a McKinsey study, 14 percent of teachers leave after one year, and nearly half leave the profession before their fifth year, citing difficult working conditions. Now, having taught in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan for eight years, Jose is proving to be an exception to the rule, and is tackling issues on education everywhere from CNN, to GOOD, the Huffington Post, and TEDx.

How does Jose make a job with such high turnover work for him? His drive is rooted in his commitment to education equality and long-term success for African-American and Latino youth. Staying focused on this greater goal has kept him in the field, and brought him recognition as a thought-leader, following his media presence and engaging blog.

“I come from the Lower East Side, the last frontier of the ghetto. In the 90s, it was a dark time: There was drug selling and murder. Growing up, we called it Beirut; you had people shooting from behind the walls through the projects. But the best part of being who I am and where I come from is that it affords me the opportunity to be patient and be more forward thinking.

“For example, people use the old leadership model where you have to be in front in order to take control, and students will sit back and take in what you teach. I don’t believe that. People mistake the leadership I bring as not taking charge, but I am trying to get students to be leaders on their own. For example, you will hear noise in my class. You will hear more of [the students] than of me. I also ask students to leave me alone and ask their classmates about solutions before they ask me. I don’t do it to be a jerk, but they need to be self-motivated and work on [their] own.

“[The students] make me want to be better. Walking the road I did, I beat the odds and want them to do the same.

“We need people who are passionate and driven to make education valuable to students. If you want to teach, do a lot of personal reflection. The person who you think you are may not be the person you are in the classroom. I would also advise you to really read. Find best practices. Find a group of friends who you really trust. Having that dialogue that makes the experience a whole lot better when you are learning how to teach.”


This story is part of Heart at Work, a monthly series produced by and Echoing Green, in which we tilt the spotlight towards everyday people doing extraordinary work that makes the world a better place.

What keeps you going when the road gets rough? Answer on Echoing Green’s Work on Purpose platform.

If you want a job like Jose’s, here are opportunities for you to explore on

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Special event: 6 ways to rock your nonprofit career in 2013

We know that many members of our community are looking for ways to take their careers to the next level. To help, we’re co-sponsoring a free teleseminar with leadership experts Rosetta Thurman and  Trista Harris and the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network to share tips and resources on how to take your career to the next level.

Can’t make it? Check out other free teleseminars in the Nonprofit Rockstar Series

January Teleseminar Image

6 Ways to Rock Your Nonprofit Career in 2013

Date: Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Time: 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm EST

Where: via teleconference, dial-in information will be provided upon registration

This teleseminar is co-sponsored by Idealist and the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network

Click here to register

Are you looking for ideas to advance your nonprofit career this year? If so, mark your calendar for the kickoff of The 2013 Nonprofit Rockstar Teleseminar Series! Join Rosetta Thurman and Trista Harris, co-authors of How to Become a Nonprofit Rockstar: 50 Ways to Accelerate Your Career to learn six practical strategies to accelerate your nonprofit career based on concepts from their popular book.

In this information-packed presentation, you will discover:

  • How to develop valuable nonprofit expertise (even if you’re “just” an intern)
  • Strategies for building a strong professional network
  • Ideas to help you establish a great personal brand
  • Steps to achieve work/life balance
  • Opportunities to practice authentic leadership
  • Tips for when and how to move on up in your career

You will be guided through a professional development planning worksheet that will help you define action steps to take in your nonprofit career over the next year. When you register, you will also receive a free chapter of Rosetta and Trista’s book that will help you gain valuable momentum toward a successful 2013!

Click here to register for free

Space is limited to 100 attendees, so be sure reserve your seat right away. This teleseminar will be recorded, so if you can’t make it this time, you will still receive the replay afterwards!

About the 2013 Nonprofit Rockstar Teleseminar Series

Monthly Conversations about Nonprofit Leadership and Careers

This free, monthly teleseminar series will cover a variety of topics in nonprofit career and leadership development. Each session features experts who will be sharing their knowledge, ideas and experience to help you accelerate your career and enhance your leadership skills. For more information and a full schedule, visit

About Rosetta Thurman

Rosetta Thurman is the President of Thurman Consulting, an education company that provides personal and professional development opportunities to empower a new generation of leaders to change the world. Rosetta is a nationally-recognized speaker and facilitator who has helped hundreds of nonprofit and association professionals improve the way they work, lead and live their lives. Her popular keynote speeches and workshops inspire audiences around the country to build meaningful careers, enhance their leadership skills and live with greater purpose. For more information, visit

About Trista Harris

Trista Harris is nationally known as a passionate advocate for new leaders in the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors. She is a leading voice for Generations X and Y and seeks to create professional development opportunities throughout the sector. She writes about generational change in the foundation field in her blog, New Voices of Philanthropy and is an international speaker on working across generations to create social change. In her professional life, Trista is the Executive Director of the Headwaters Foundation for Justice.  A native Minnesotan, Trista received her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Howard University and her Master’s in Public Policy degree, with a focus on philanthropy and nonprofit effectiveness, from the Humphrey Institute at the University of Minnesota. For more information, visit

About Idealist

Idealist was launched in 1995, on a shoestring budget but with an ambitious goal: to be the starting place for anyone, anywhere who wants to make the world a better place. Today, Idealist is the most popular online resource for the nonprofit sector, with jobs, internships, and volunteer opportunities provided by over 70,000 organizations around the world and 100,000 unique visitors every day. For more information, visit

About the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network

The Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN) promotes an efficient, viable, and inclusive nonprofit sector that supports the growth, learning, and development of young professionals. We engage and support future nonprofit and community leaders through professional development, networking and social opportunities designed for young people involved in the nonprofit community. For more information, visit

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Three unconventional ways to be generous

Photo Credit: arimoore, Creative Commons/Flickr

Today is Giving Tuesday, a collective effort encouraging us to give back this holiday season. While you can certainly make a donation to your favorite organization or cause, what are some other ways that we can be generous?  Here are a few videos to inspire you.

Write Love Letters

At the age of 22, Hannah Brencher was struggling with depression and loneliness. To help her cope, she started writing love letters and leaving them around New York City for strangers. Two years later, she’s leading More Love Letters, a movement that’s rooted in kindness and the intimacy of written letters.

Say Yes

For one month, Sasha Dicther of the Acumen Fund, said yes to every request for help. His month-long “generosity experiment” taught him that generosity is a practice we need to cultivate in order to break our culture of distrust.

Sasha Dichter: The Generosity Experiment from TED Blog on Vimeo.


Be an Everyday Hero

Mark Bezos is the Vice President of Development at the Robin Hood Foundation and a volunteer firefighter. In his work he has seen big acts of bravery and generosity, yet the downside is that we tend to think only the big acts matter. He encourages us not to wait to be heroes.



What does generosity look like to you?

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More than a pipeline: a new vision for nonprofit leadership development

Photo credit: pratanti, Creative Commons/Flickr

When it comes to leadership development, organizations often envision employees as talent in a pipeline that needs to be developed in order to move up. But is this the best approach? Rusty Stahl, Idealist board member, doesn’t think so:

First, pipelines generally transport oil, not people. I will admit it: a pipeline takes an asset from its starting place (at least the place where people drill the oil up from the ground) to the ultimate destination we define for it, where it is transformed into new forms of energy and burned into oblivion. Career pathways similarly deploy talent assets from their youth to be transformed into productive workers that turn their values, intelligence, creativity, sweat and relationships into the life energy of social causes. And, ultimately, at the least, the physical manifestation of that energy is used up.

But nonprofit workers are not oozing liquid that simply goes with the flow. There is much more agency, choice and give-and-take amongst people as we move along our career paths; sometimes we pursue employers, other times they recruit us. We proactively build up experience, and sometimes opportunities appear unexpectedly as a result of preparation — and luck. Most careers do not move from point A to point Z in a straight line with scientific precision like the pipeline.

Instead, he argues that nonprofit careers develop like links in a chain: “Mentors and teachers pass ideas, knowledge, and practices from hand to hand. This ensures that knowledge from the past remains alive in the present and morphs into the future as each generation innovates, adapts and adds new meaning and method to an evolving cannon.”

Read more on Rusty’s blog and chime in: how should we approach career and leadership development in the nonprofit sector?

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Three ways to be generous at work and further your career

‘Tis the season for giving! Have you thought about how being generous at work can help your career? In this post, we explore three things you can do for others that help you grow and strengthen your network.

by Eleanor C. Whitney

Thanksgiving is quickly approaching and while you may be in the midst of figuring out the best side dish to make with your turkey or Tofurkey, now is the perfect time to explore how a spirit of generosity can help your career.

Photo credit: Funchye, Creative Commons/Flickr)

Common wisdom in the career-advice field recommends that when you start a new job you should volunteer for tasks that others might be hesitant to take on and go the extra mile to show your capacity for commitment, hard work and acting as a team player. While this is certainly sound advice, generosity goes beyond simply volunteering for tasks at opportune moments.

When you act with generosity you are consistently open with your skills, ideas and knowledge. When you are generous you don’t just give of yourself, but acknowledge the contributions and needs of others. The result is a network of people who are also willing to help you.

Here are a few ideas of how you can bring a spirit of generosity to your career:

  • Create a resource or service that is useful to the people you serve

In my current position I co-run the Fiscal Sponsorship at the New York Foundation for the Arts. Artists are required to submit a budget for their project when they apply to our program. My colleagues and I noticed that artists often made the same budget mistakes and some neglected to submit budgets at all. In response we organized a free project budget basics workshop that we presented to a packed house and offered online as a free podcast. As a result, artists can build their skills free of charge and we receive stronger, complete applications.

  • Share information that helps others take the next step

In his book The Thank You Economy Gary Vaynerchuk explains that businesses and professionals need to adapt to the openness, feedback and communication the Internet offers by becoming more communicative and caring with their stakeholders.  Keep this in mind as you communicate daily with your clients and colleagues. When they reach out to you with a question or need, even if you can’t offer exactly what they are asking for, give them the information they need to take the next step, whether that’s directing them to someone who can help them or a suggesting a resource where they can find what they are looking for.  Send them a link, a person’s contact information, or an article. They will remember and thank you for it.

  • Take time to understand your colleagues’ needs, goals and concerns

When I worked a large museum in New York City, I took time to understand the schedules and job-related concerns of colleagues in other departments. Because I established a reputation of respecting my colleagues’ processes and listening to their needs I found that people would go the extra mile for me. For example, I knew that the editorial department worked on a strict schedule that was determined by the availability of the graphic design department and print shop.  If I requested last minute changes to publication text from the editors it meant they would have to reach out to the designers and I would potentially slow down the whole publication and printing schedule. When I acknowledged that what I was asking for required extra effort on their part, explained why my request was important to the museum overall, and acknowledged their help, I found they were happy to help me.

Generosity is a kind of currency that you build slowly. When you are generous you establish your reputation as a key facilitator, team member and leader. That recognition can lead to new and deeper connections and opportunities and will translate into a feeling of good will towards you. Good will is the strongest quality you can offer.

Eleanor C. Whitney is a writer, arts administrator and musician living in Brooklyn, New York. She currently is a Program Officer at the New York Foundation for the Arts and is the author of the forthcoming book Grow: How to Take Your Do It Yourself Project and Passion to the Next Level and Quit Your Job, which will be released in the spring of 2013 on Cantankerous Titles

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Three ways to make the most of that extra hour and advance your career

Yesterday, Daylight Savings ended in the United States. While many of us could certainly use that extra hour for some much needed sleep, there are a few ways to use that time to take your career to the next level.

Photo Credit: ToniVC, Creative Commons/Flickr

Schedule an informational interview: Informational interviews are a great way to explore the ins-and-outs of a career, organization, or industry that you are interested in. Spend some time researching people to chat with and reach out to them. Remember: an informational interview is not a job interview; it is a conversation with someone whose career mirrors the work you’d like to do.

Subscribe to an industry publication: With the world of work changing, it’s hard to stay on top of trends while remaining competitive. This is why industry publications – magazines, newsletters, blogs, etc – can be helpful as you navigate your career. In addition to learning about key information in your field, you’ll hear about great opportunities and can expand your network by connecting with like-minded people. Start by looking at associations related to your work and see if they have publications you can subscribe to or look through our sector resources. Also, check out to see some of the top blogs online in a variety of categories.

Let go of an activity that’s draining you:  We all have them: activities or projects that we dread participating in. Maybe you no longer have time; maybe the project is going in a direction that puts you off; or maybe you’ve simply lost interest. Letting go of activities that hold you back instead of moving you forward frees up your time. You can use that time to focus on other things that do fulfill you.

How else can you make the most of that extra hour?

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Helping out after Hurricane Sandy – more support needed

As New Yorkers begin to assess the damage left by Hurricane Sandy, we are learning about various ways for our community to get involved. Below are a few opportunities to volunteer and to make donations. If you know of others, please add them in the comments and share with others who want to help out.

Volunteers and members of the US Army National Guard Unit 827 Engineers hand out MRE’s to residents at a staging area located at the Al Smith Playground on Catherine Street this morning. (Bryan Smith/for New York Daily News)


The New York Blood Center is hosting emergency blood drives in all five boroughs. Find one near you to donate blood.

If you would like to donate money, The Office of Emergency Management has a list of organizations working on disaster relief in New York City that would benefit from your support. If your company would like to make an in-kind donation, learn more about how to do so here.

Many shelters also need supplies for people affected by the hurricane, including batteries, flashlights, and more. Check out Occupy Sandy to learn where and how to donate these items and how you can volunteer as well.


New York Cares is looking for volunteers to help with disaster relief. Sign up to get involved.

If you have tech skills, New York Tech Meetup and New Work City are looking for volunteers to help businesses get back online.

And if you are a health care professional, learn more about what you can do in the Medical Reserve Corps.

Know other ways to get involved? Share them in the comments.

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Three ways to make a difference on Halloween

Photo Credit: Pedro J. Ferreira, Creative Commons/Flickr

Happy Halloween! While today is a fun time to dress up and indulge in candy (no matter how old you are), there are still ways we make a difference in our communities.  Check out the resources below for ideas on how you get involved.

Attend a haunted house for charity

Many nonprofits put together haunted houses that give kids a chance to have fun while raising money for the organization. What Gives? and the Nonprofit Quarterly have put together a list of haunted houses taking place around the country. Don’t see one near you? Start thinking about your year-end plan to donate to an organization you love.


Many communities are using today to come together and help those affected by Hurricane Sandy. We’ve listed a few ways to get involved. If you live in New York City, check out the Brooklyn Community Foundation, NYC Service, and Time Out New York for ongoing opportunities. There are also a variety of Halloween focused volunteer opportunities on our website.

Dig into to smart candy

This Halloween, try making your own candy for homemade and healthy treats. Or purchase organic chocolate that’s earth-friendly and delicious. The Daily Green and Green Halloween have ideas and resource to explore to help you get started.

How else can we give back on Halloween? Feel free to share your ideas, resources, and tips in the comments!