Harnessing the Resources That Are Hard to Measure

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Some of your greatest resources are intangible, and they range from special skills or insights in your members to recognizing an opportunity when it arises and making the most of it.

One of the most important of these intangibles is a shared sense of purpose. Organizations made up of people with a similar idea about what is needed and how to get there will be more successful than organizations in which people have very different ideas about what the next steps should be ”or where the focus should be. This is one reason it makes sense for some conditions to have more than one organization serving the community of affected individuals and their families. For example, one organization might focus on the research agenda and another might focus on direct support to families. They can still work together (and they should!), but the independence of the two organizations can have a large, positive impact on their respective volunteers' ability to feel energized and supported in their specific tasks.

Energy, vision, passion, and enthusiasm are resources that your members can bring your efforts, resources that can multiply in a group of individuals with a similar approach and focus. Understanding how to make an event work, inspiring others ”like potential sponsors ”with a desire to become involved, actually mounting an event (and cleaning up afterward), and enjoying every minute are just some of the ways these resources can help build your organization.

Serendipity, synchronicity, and blessings are other intangibles that can enhance the development and effectiveness of your organization, but they may require a more active, searching eye. You may be building your organization while providing daily supportive care, or more or less taking on a second job to educate others about your own condition while holding down the job that pays your rent.

It's not always easy to see what there is to be happy about when you are trying to do many things. It's crucial, though. Staying in touch with your blessings is a way to stave off burnout and support the vision you need to recognize opportunities, like events coming together to provide additional visibility for your organization, or making the most of a chance meeting with someone who can help advise, support, or develop your organization.

You have other resources that are hard to quantify, too, like day-to-day experience of having ”or caring for someone with ”the condition your organization supports. Especially in rare conditions, clinicians may not have a good sense of the full range of expression of a trait. Being attentive to your experience, and especially pooling the experiences of your membership, can be an invaluable resource both for understanding the condition and improving the lives of you and your membership.

And we've mentioned this before, but we'll say it again: one resource that is hard to quantify but essential to recognize ”and take advantage of ”is simply the strength of numbers. Where one person may find it hard to muster the energy, enthusiasm, and vision to accomplish large and difficult tasks, even for the health of a child, a group of people can share the bits and pieces that they have, take strength from each other's efforts, and create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.

That's easier said than done, but it's why you're here, and why we created this resource. We want to do more than remind you that it helps to keep your chin up. We want to give you tools and information to make it easier for you to do that, and especially to recognize the kinds of opportunities that can make a tremendous difference for the success of your organization.

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