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Millions of Christians celebrate Easter today, including myself.  Unlike Christmas which honors an event – a birth – around which we can all relate,  Easter recalls the Resurrection – which is central to Christianity and for which its truth is dependent on faith alone.  For leaders who practice a religion, be they Christian, Muslim, Jewish or other, it is worth recognizing the importance of our faith, not just in an account of an event like a resurrection but in the people who surround us.  We cannot always “see” their talent, gifts, and potential so we must center ourselves on faith in them, not exclusively but meaningfully.

As a person who has been blessed to lead multiple organizations and been a senior leader of others, I’ve placed as much weight in my faith in those that I supervise as the missions of organizations with whom we share our employ.  The centrality of this has only grown as I’ve advanced in age.  I’ve become more humble and proud alongside those with whom I’ve worked, seeing my role as conveying a vision while counting on those around me to help make it real.  At its core, this is faith.  Perhaps not a faith in a monotheistic God, but one which centers on the ability of others to actuate a vision to fulfill a mission.

Nearly all the organizations I’ve chosen for my profession have been centered on a singular mission and I’m honored to have worked for them all but most importantly, the people alongside each where I have worked.  I’m proud to have worked alongside so many impressive people and under the supervision of many who found a similar faith in me. If you celebrate Easter, may your faith in the day mirror your faith in those around you.  It is ultimately what this day is about.  We can make the world better by having a vision for improving it and working through the many with whom we share life’s professional journey.  Happy Easter to those who celebrate it and Happy Ramadan and Passover to my Muslim and Jewish friends.

New to Mission Rise – Sign up as a Volunteer or Nonprofit to make a difference through SolveUp.   You can post a mission or offer to help a mission. 

So you’ve decided posting a mission might take you or your organization to the next level.  Like others seeking support, you’ve engaged volunteers and coaches to help but it is led to incremental change.  You sense you could better engage your existing network better and outsiders in new ways. Mission Rise offers our SolveUp platform to do it…

The Solve Up Opportunity:  SolveUp crowdsources volunteer problem “Solvers” around time limited, project based missions to address challenges.  The objective is to engage existing volunteers better and seek others who can also contribute.  While Solve Up can certainly help with your traditional volunteering, it empowers you to better engage the wisdom and talent of individuals more succinctly.

How: Post a Mission.  Missions should be challenges you’re wresting to overcome.  They can be tasks or broader challenges such as how to fundraise better, design a new intake system, and get help with managing your financials.  Here are two examples:

Scenario #1

Habitat for Humanity of Anytown, Colorado has been producing homes reliably at 8 a year.  But because of their long history, they have more than 200 completed with homeowners paying active mortgages.  Though their cash flow is low, their balance sheet with mortgages is significant. They believe that they could be doing something more creative but don’t know how…

HFH of Anytown decides to post their challenge as a SolveUp mission.  The result is a few finance and banking volunteers who make offers through the mission post.  HFH then brings them together for 9 months where they work with finance staff, board members and others to design a way to turn their assets into greater cash flow leading to a production increase of 16 homes a year!

Scenario #2

The Community Trust offers financial literacy, loan products, and helps its clients build assets.  Given the growing need they’ve seen in asset development, they realize a real shortage in lending and banking skills.  The Community Trust posts a Banking Mission to recruit a “train the trainer” team to grow their skills.

Community Trust engages Solve Up to post their banking mission and recruit help.  They find volunteers from a bank’s Community Reinvestment, HR (learning and development) and lending officers to design a suite of tools that Community Trust can use going forward.  The team also commits to volunteer for six months on the execution of the tools.

Posting is easy

In order to post, you will register and input the following content that you have available:

Organization: Name, Social Links, Description, Website URL, Guidestar URL (Guidestar is now called Candid), Logo image (square format), profile cover image (landscape format)

Mission(s): Title, The Story (What We are Looking For) including image(s) and YouTube video url(s), Experience required? (yes/no) & if yes, describe Age requirement (none/16+/18+)

Note that the Mission can be written as a challenge (essentially the problem) so that your Solvers can come up with solutions and they are not tightly prescribed.  We recommend that users be descriptive so error on the side of at least a paragraph about the mission and about your organization.

We strongly encourage you to send your Solve Up Mission Page link to all of your existing volunteers and network. They may possess skills you don’t know about and because they will share with their networks.  It will also deepen their engagement with you and make them deeper partners in addressing your challenges.

Our Mission is Meeting Yours!

Now that we’ve passed the first quarter of ’22, it is worth noting two trends facing nonprofits and the executive directors who lead them.  Most obvious, inflation, Ukraine, and polarization will undermine our potential as nonprofits, but it is worth looking beyond to discern what other obstacles stand before us.  Failing to do so risks our sustainability and in some cases, even survival.

First, Good Dissolution.  The proliferation of good initiatives means the diffusion of our capacity to find the good we seek.  The pandemic, Black Lives Matter, and Ukraine have played an extraordinarily role in raising national consciousness while also leading to tens of thousands of new nonprofits.  There is nothing wrong with this because it will add to competition in the sector with some orgs likely to develop new, creative approaches to change and leaving older organizations challenged to come up with them.  Many new and old will fail, and those that are able to persist with old approaches will suck valuable capital from the sector.  If you are an ED, don’t concern yourself with this reality, just focus on new approaches.  Innovation will be the way forward.

Second, the TaskForce “Force”.  Unlike Star Wars, this force is seen.  Every donor, government, civic org, and relevant institution is launching task forces or their equivalent.  This is great but there is a great BUT.   That is, these groups must take action and leave the comfort of their dialogues and disagreements to make decisions.  Otherwise, these too are sucking valuable energy from leaders and networks looking to make decisions and take action. These Task Forces are essential but let’s just make certain that they are time limited so those on them and leading them know that they must make decisions.  As Yoda presciently told Luke, “Do or Do Not, There is No Try”.

Again, it is worth welcoming these trends while also being smart in how we respond. Therein lies our challenge as leaders and participants in the social sector that strives to meet mission for those who need our focus and devotion.  Let’s not let them down.

Email Mike Mitchell at

When Kathie O’Callaghan heard that the SolveUp platform could provide volunteer solutions to creative problems within her non-profit, she jumped on board. She needed external help for the non-profit she founded in 2016, Hearts & Homes for Refugees. However, like many non-profits, her organization didn’t have enough resources to fund a big project. Its capacity relies heavily on volunteer power. So she planted a Mission on SolveUp asking for graphic design assistance for the company’s outreach PowerPoint presentations.

How SolveUp fills a volunteer gap

Soon enough, a creative agency named Duckpin volunteered for the task, and delivered on its promise. “They were able to clean up the presentation, streamline it, and make it more clear,” said Kathie. This focus on design is hard to come by with a small staff and large amounts of work in the non-profit realm. Having a simple method to connect through SolveUp with willing — and skilled — outside resources was a huge help.

Furthermore, Kathie and her team plan to use the graphic elements Duckpin provided elsewhere in their branding. She says it will be easy to carry out some of the design choices in other presentations and other items to provide a consistent feel.

About the SolveUp process

For Kathie and her team members, working with SolveUp was easy. They posted the Mission on their organization’s page and soon Duckpin reached out. The two had several calls, deciding to focus on reworking one PowerPoint presentation that would help Hearts & Homes with its outreach goals. They plan to use the enhanced presentation during events and onboarding processes to answer questions like, “What do you do?” and “What impact can you make as a volunteer with us?”

The two organizations worked together over the phone to come up with ideas and to lay out a plan for the renewed presentation. Then Duckpin delivered an improved PowerPoint.

Would Kathie recommend SolveUp to others? “Absolutely. There’s no downside,” she said. “It taps into the goodwill of people helping others who don’t have the capacity.”

A bonus for companies that volunteer

There’s an unexpected benefit for companies that volunteer their time: future work. Kathie says that when she has greater design needs and a budget to pay for it, she knows who she will turn to. “I will always think of Duckpin first,” she said. Because of its stellar work and willingness to help out, Kathie would be more than happy to pay back the favor by bringing Hearts & Homes business to their agency in the future.

If your company is looking to make a positive impact on others in your community while also promoting your brand, consider signing up your team for a SolveUp Mission. Not only will you help out another group that needs it, but you’ll be making valuable connections that could pay off big at a later date.

The first day we closed our doors, a few women still came in the morning. They wanted to follow their normal routine. Five days after we closed our doors, only one woman continued to show up, sometimes before staff at 7:00 a.m. The first day, she pulled at the door every hour or so, as if we would suddenly re-open, and then returned to a spot on the sidewalk.

On the fifth day, it was raining. She no longer tried to enter the building. Instead, she pressed herself close to the corner of the brick wall to get some sort of cover and waited until lunchtime. Then she sat down, cramped in the corner, trying to maneuver the lunch bag, drink, and soup cup we had just given her. I watched her through the glass doors, saw her on the wet ground, and went straight into our kitchen pantry to cry several tears. Then I walked back into the kitchen to continue ladling soup into cups.

As the staff of a resource center for homeless women, we never imagined the day that we could not let clients (or volunteers) into our building. We had provided services every day of the year since the ‘80’s – even on holidays. Some women had come for showers, meals, and support for 20 years, and in a matter of days, we were forced to reduce our services to offer to-go meals and a few smaller services and tell them they could no longer come inside.

The hardest part about working at a non-profit during COVID-19 has been the inability to fully serve the human beings whose safety and well-being we have been entrusted with. The rippling effects of our circumstances can lead to huge losses for non-profits — mine and yours. Luckily, by identifying these losses and developing multiple action plans on how to manage a non-profit during the pandemic, you can begin to protect your mission and ensure that those in need continue to receive the life-changing and saving services you offer.

Four kinds of loss a non-profit may experience during COVID-19

Monetary loss

The economic effects of COVID-19 are yet to be determined, and this can have a huge impact on the monetary donations that your non-profit may depend on in order to provide services. One of your challenges will be how you can convince the community to INVEST back into your non-profit in a time when they themselves are uncertain about their financial future.

In-kind donations

While money is necessary to keep a program functioning, there are materials and supplies that contribute to a program’s success and typically come from donations. This can include clothing for those in need, school supplies, art materials for art therapy, and more. Without these donations, you’ll have to dip into your finances (which is not always an option) or do away with the activity that requires those supplies.

Volunteer power

Volunteers make up a huge portion of the non-profit workforce. They support day-to-day operations, such as meal services, or key skill-based resources, such as legal aid. Due to the current restrictions, this manpower has effectively been cut off — unless you can determine new and innovative ways to connect people remotely.

Heart & morale

The people you serve and your staff will all be emotionally impacted by what is occurring, just as every average citizen is. Being disconnected from community support is disheartening for everyone; no one wants to feel like they are alone. You can provide an opportunity for people to give back and help your staff and program get the support they deserve. However, for it to work, you have to be willing to ask the hard questions.

Asking the hard questions

When you’re thinking through how to manage a non-profit during these trying times, start by asking yourself these difficult questions:

  1. What is your most important service? If you had to get rid of every service except for one, what would it be? What is the bare minimum that your client needs? From there, what is the next most important service? Do this until you’ve gone through every service you offer.
  2. What is your bandwidth/capacity? How much money, time, and volunteer power are you ABLE (not WILLING) to put into this? You need to keep in mind that giving 200% is not sustainable — you do no good to the world when you are burned out. If there are other responsibilities that absolutely require your time, be realistic about how many hours it will take each day, each week, whatever works, and see how much time you have outside of that — while also making sure to take into account your lunches, breaks, etc.
  3. What does your team need? What resources, materials, and support do they need to succeed and provide the best quality of care? What support can you give (within your bandwidth) to address their very real concerns about their own health, finances, and stability?
  4. What is your timeline? How long can you continue to function as you are? How long do you have to firmly establish the most important service, and then what is your timeline to follow up and add on additional services? Are you re-building entirely or partially? The fact is, your plans will change. They are most likely changing almost every day already. But thinking through a timeline allows you to brainstorm realistic goals, and when adjustments need to be made you will be in a much better space to approach them.

Dealing with the constant change

One of our biggest obstacles has been the suddenness of it all. We needed to implement emergency contingency plans (and in some cases, design them from the start) in mere days. And the quality of leadership has shown through in the treatment of staff, who are often on the front-lines. Few of us imagined such drastic changes to happen so quickly, and we were prepared to witness people suffer from it.

The loss of a program or service reverberates throughout the community and is shared by staff, clients, volunteers, and partners. Just as COVID-19 has highlighted the intricate network of human connection, it has also highlighted the key connections between our missions, which thousands upon thousands of people depend upon for basic safety and health each day. These reflections and questions are key to getting back to providing care to our clients, and to prepare for those that will need us in the future.

There are many people and organizations who understand our loss and are looking for a chance to help. By adding missions to the Solve Up platform, you can give these volunteers the opportunity to firmly take a stake in the welfare of their community and share your common goals.

Nonprofits confront enormous barriers to solving social problems.  Their mission and mandates require human resources but often lack the financial resources to hire and deploy them.  Nonprofits need to write proposals, showcase their work, and initiate and manage projects; however, staff are nearly always overextended.  Indeed, today’s nonprofits face:

  1. A shortage of staff to meet core needs
  2. A shortage of staff to exploit opportunities
  3. Staff turnover which is harmful to program goals and organizational mission
  4. Underutilization of volunteers who can contribute to tasks and capacity
  5. Competing mission demands which hinder objective decision-making around the allocation and prioritization of human resources.
  6. Dual demands to meet mission and raise resources to raise resources.

This isn’t news.  CEO’s and Executive Directors often think to themselves, “If only I had staff for that, I could…”  They long for an answer as ubiquitous as “There’s an app for that.”  But even if we framed nonprofits as tech platforms whose people were like “apps” who easily performed functions to overcome issues like those above, they are not Apple.  Nonprofits tend to lack innovation, especially around human resources.  In fact, nonprofits can cycle through, underpay, and take good staff for granted.  And the sector is not known for how it engenders growth, advancement, and self-care.  But what if we changed the system to lower costs, further mission, and ensure staff could contribute more powerfully.  With SWAP, there is a way.

Introducing SWAP

Nonprofits move through financial cycles of ups and downs; less work and loads of work.  While plenty of committed and qualified people want to help, nonprofits lack the resources and oftentimes the ‘known quantity’ to hire or allocate talent proportional to its workload and complexity.

SWAP facilitates the sharing of staff and experienced volunteers between nonprofits.  Members of SWAP participate in a network that allows them to ‘recruit’ and ‘share’ staff and volunteers amongst one another.  Using a credit system called SWAP Coin, participants “purchase, earn, or expend” credits to apply talent on their most pressing challenge and leverage capacity to pursue opportunities.  SWAP is to nonprofits what AirBnB is to lodging and Uber to transportation.   

How SWAP Works

If an organization is facing competing priorities, SWAP helps to ‘employ’ vetted staff with the required competencies at no cost.  For example, Nonprofit (A) posts an opportunity where they want to recruit staff.  The objective will require 40 hours.  Nonprofit (B), has eligible/interested staff or a skilled volunteer(s) that can be shared to meet the need.  The recruiting nonprofit ‘pays’ 40 SWAP credits and the sharing nonprofit ‘earns’ 40 SWAP credits for future use.  Because we assume the demand may exceed the supply:

  • Donors can donate credits by making a cash gift that a nonprofit can use, if their balance is low. Purchased credits would equal a pre-determined hourly rate.
  • Companies and the public can volunteer credits (through donated hours) which would serve as an in-kind donation

For nonprofits, SWAP offers a model for (1) recruiting nonprofit leadership to post positions needed with the SWAP credits they’d be willing to offer; and (2) sharing nonprofits that have similar positions can “lend” those staff to the recruiting nonprofits for credits.  The sharing nonprofit gets credits that they can use later when they confront a different need that they can’t fill internally but which they can find in the SWAP the network, assuming they don’t have it internally.  The recruiting nonprofit gets immediate and vetted staff/volunteer capacity without going through an exhaustive period of drafting a position, getting approval, raising dollars, and recruiting which can take 9-18 months.

For employed staff, SWAP offers opportunities to gain deeper experience, learning, and broader exposure that will catalyze creative thinking and rejuvenate ideas back to their home organization.  Staff sign up for engagement with other organizations in a SWAP deal.

For volunteers, SWAP offers a chance for meaningful utilization of skills. Indeed, nonprofits can oftentimes under appreciate the value of volunteers by missing their professional and life expertise, even when nonprofits count on their support daily for unskilled tasks.  Indeed, realizing this talent could help build capacity.  For example, imagine the potential of a marketing professional who volunteers Sundays in a soup kitchen.  If this person was engaged in teaching the nonprofit how to launch a marketing campaign for food donations among grocery stores and restaurants, it would make a measurable difference.  The Sunday service is great, but the volunteer’s talent could complement a deeper need to grow food donations.  In fact, SWAP would incentivize nonprofits to build a volunteer corps capable of contributing to their toughest problems.

Clearly, issues like liability, retention and confidentiality will need thoughtful input.  But like the challenges with today’s platforms (did anyone in the 1990s think someone would “share” their home?), we can work through and mitigate these risks.  Disinterested, risk averse organizations will only perpetuate the status quo.


SWAP helps nonprofits overcome societal problems by sharing skilled professionals, reducing hiring demands and expenses, builds collaboration among nonprofits, and grows efficiency and intellectual capital across the sector. Staff build skills, broaden experience and improve morale.  Volunteers broaden their experience with complex issues and get meaningful work.  Participating nonprofits build capacity, overcome human resource barriers, strengthen their networks to better reach mission.  Let’s end today’s pattern of nonprofit executives seeking incremental impact by pitching modest staff increases at budget season.  The cost of the status quo is greater than something new.  SWAP will serve countless objectives and transform the social sector.