3 Ways Vittana is Cultivating Community

Navigating adolescence for a startup nonprofit is no easy task.

How do you keep your mission and goals aligned as a team when you double your staff in a matter of months?  When do you reevaluate the office culture born out of those baby-step-days when your office space was nothing more than a few desks in the basement of a bar?  What does it take to organize your community from an amorphous group of supporters to an all-star cheer leading squad?

Since my January trip to Zappos HQ in Las Vegas, NV for Zappos Insights Boot Camp, first quarter has come and gone, Seattle’s cherry blossoms have burst forth into spring, and changes abound at our own HQ here in South Lake Union.

 

Pile of "thank yous", "welcomes", and shout-outs to our amazing community--mailed with love by our VIPs.

1. Sharing our passion and telling our story: We launched a new volunteer team!  That’s right, the Vittana Inspiration & Personalization (VIP) Team is gaining momentum.  Check out the video we produced for International Women’s Day here.  More fun footage, events, and community love to come in Q2 as we build out our numbers!  Want to get involved?  Sign up here.

2. Taking our temperature: Establishing an organizational health score can be difficult to do via survey when you have a dozen people in your office.  To that same point, keeping your office happy, healthy, and teams running smoothly is that much more fun when you can maximize the personal connections that come with a small team.

Since attending Boot Camp, I’ve been thinking a great deal about how to take advantage of our communication skills (we have an awesome team), and simultaneously score us on a regular basis.  The answer?  Definitely still in development, but for starters: quarterly mission alignment with org-wide mini-retreats, and then a manageable 5-question survey administered monthly.  We’ll see if it’s just what the doctor ordered.

Other nonprofits may be able to relate—especially those of the startup nature—but it’s often easy to get lost in your work, put that nose to the grindstone, and silo yourself into your piece of the larger picture.  Taking a monthly pulse, and coming up for air to make sure we’re aligned on a quarterly basis seems like a good way to keep our culture (and our productivity toward our goals) humming.

Vittana's Chalkboard - "What Does Education Mean to You?" All Vittana visitors are encouraged to write on our walls!

Staying in touch with our students. You can find Vittana stories all over the office.

3. Keeping things hip and fresh…just like us:  In an office, your employees can feel good on the inside, your organizational accomplishments can look good on the outside, but what about the office itself?  The place where you have to feel good and produce those accomplishments?  Having moved to a great new space in October, we’re focused on keeping our Vittana story ever present in our minds, and our office “on brand.”

 

Though a great deal of what we do is following the pulse of our work and our students, it’s important for us to remember to keep close tabs on the pulse of our community—be that the community of supporters in our own backyard, or our own internal community of committed staff.

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About The Author:

Sophie worked as Vittana's Office Coordinator. She is a native to Seattle and holds a BA in sociology from the Colorado College.

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