Our fundraising team just finished a terrific calendar year-end. For you in the business you grasp the significance of what I’m talking about. For you non-fundraisers it’s hard to overstate the importance of December. It is often pretty much the make-or-break month for many donor-supported organizations.

Anyway, the other day we did something all too rare in the not-for-profit world: we celebrated. Our department leader scheduled a two-hour gathering in mid-afternoon complete with taco bar and refreshments and we had a mini-fiesta. And as we ate, we spent time talking about the contributions others had made to our collective success. It was a lot of fun and created, I think, a terrific atmosphere of cohesiveness and cooperation among our large and diverse team.

And that got me to thinking: how often do we miss the chance to gather together and celebrate what our teams have accomplished? How often do we pass up the opportunity for a collective celebratory pat on the back?

Maybe some bosses are afraid to “waste the time” when there’s so much work to be done — yes, you made the goal, but January sucks so get back to work. Others may fear we’ll all get too complacent and lose our sense of urgency if we spend even a little time in the party spirit recognizing what we’ve achieved together. I suppose some managers simply aren’t wired in a relational configuration (translation: they’re relatively un-empathetic and somewhat clueless about the emotional needs of their subordinates) so the idea of celebration never occurs to them.  Maybe not-for-profit organizations are simply “celebratorily challenged.”

So here’s a suggestion: find something to celebrate, and do it! “Seek the good and praise it,” as the saying goes. If you haven’t been doing this much your team may find it odd at first, but having been on both sides of this one over the years I speak from experience: few things build a sense of team like a collective attaboy/attagirl. So, take some time off, invite the troops and have a party. Oh, and tacos help, too.

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