April 1, 2019

“Does this board member spark joy?”

How to tidy your organisation using the KonMari method.

2 min read

Marie Kondo’s method of tidying up, called ‘KonMari’ is taking the internet by storm. Essentially, the method asks you to question whether something “sparks joy.” If it doesn’t, thank it for its service, and then let it go.

While Kondo talks about tidying up your home, her method can be applied to your nonprofit also. Here are some lessons by Vu Le on how to tidy up your organisation, inspired by the KonMari method:

Give each board member a tap to wake them up

Kondo likes to tap books to symbolically “wake them up” before determining whether they spark joy. This is a good strategy with some board members. They should bring joy to your organisation, but sometimes we get attached to them and keep them on our board because of our hoarding tendencies. After you shake them a bit to “wake them up,” consider each board member and see if they spark joy. Keep the board members who spark joy; thank and release the ones that do not. Do this with other volunteers too.

Determine if you want to take a staff into the future

If the question of whether something sparks joy for you is not working to help you decide whether to keep it or not, Marie Kondo recommends asking the question, “Do you want to take this with you into the future?” This is a good question to ask as you consider whether to keep each of your staff, including the Executive Director. Gaze at each team member and ask yourself if this person would be good for your organization to bring into the future? Do this with consultants too.

dirty office

Picture courtesy: Pixabay

Go through each donor in your database and ask “Does this person make me want to stab something?”

Most donors spark a lot of joy. But not all of them do. Some of them spark fear, dread, or the heebie-jeebies. They might be sexist, racist, ableist, homophobic, transphobic, a predator, or just arrogant and condescending and bizsplainy. Look at each donor’s name on your list and see what feelings it brings up in you. Thank and say goodbye to the donors who do not spark joy.

Related article: Imagine if we talked to everyone like they worked at a nonprofit

Determine which funders/grants spark joy

I met a colleague who had a grant for $7,000 that required quarterly reports. Clearly it did not spark joy in her, and she had decided to let go of this abomination of nature. Look through each of your grants to see if they spark joy in you. If they don’t, call up the program officer and say “This grant does not spark joy in me” and see if you can change things. If that doesn’t work, thank the grant for its service or whatever and let it go, then spend some time in your weeping closet if you have one.

This is an excerpt. Read the complete list on NonprofitAF here.

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Vu Le Profile
Vu Le

Vu Le (“voo lay”) is a writer, speaker, vegan, Pisces, and Executive Director, Rainier Valley Corps, a nonprofit in Seattle that promotes social justice by developing leaders of colour, strengthening organisations led by communities of color, and fostering collaboration between diverse communities. Check out his other posts at Nonprofit AF.