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Navigating the Not-For-Profit Sector with a Tandem Bike

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Aug 9, 2021 | Blog

Earlier this summer, my partner and I went on a cycling trip through Ktunaxa territory. This involved a great deal of logistics coordination to do the route-planning, campsite-booking, food-stop-finding, lightweight packing, and so on. While my partner typically and generously takes the reigns when it comes to planning our bikepacking trips, I am able to use my coordination and organization skills at work. As the Client & Program Delivery Coordinator at Vantage Point, I provide detail-oriented administration and coordination support for all our education and consulting engagements. This involves setting up client folders and files, drafting proposals and contracts, and communicating logistics, reviewing and sharing materials, providing follow-up and evaluation support, and spending a lot of time in Salesforce CRM. I have always loved taking care of the little details; making sure everything is accounted for and running smoothly; and I have seen, felt, and heard how this work can help increase impact.

I know impact can be hard to define and measure, and I know impact can be bigger and more transformative when it’s accomplished collaboratively. It’s like cycling: I go farther, have more fun, and feel stronger when I’m riding with people I care about (sometimes literally on the same bike because my pandemic purchase was a tandem). This collaborative and relational piece is something that I appreciate about Vantage Point. Internally and externally, there is a lot of putting our heads together and relationship-nurturing that makes our work possible and impactful. One of our guiding principles is mobilizing resources to respond to the needs of the not-for-profit sector. These resources include our staff, Board Members, Knowledge Philanthropists (skilled volunteers), associates, members, and community partners from across the sector we interact with every day. Through our training and consulting engagements, convening activities, peer networks (shout out to my Youth Network peers and colleagues), communities of practice, meetings, and even email threads, these relationships provide so many learning and listening opportunities. I’m glad to be part of a workplace that is a ‘living lab’ – allowing for experimentation, mistakes, vulnerability, and my own personal and professional growth alongside Vantage Point’s development.

One thing I’m continuously exploring – on the bike and at work – is how to balance being introverted and wanting connection. Luckily, cycling is both an individual and team sport, depending on the day and the person. At Vantage Point, it’s much the same. I can enjoy working independently behind the scenes, and I can enjoy the opportunities to actually interact with people from the not-for-profit community. As the first point of contact for many who reach out about our services, I am able to connect with amazing people from all over the province. One of our consultants regularly cc’s me on emails and notes that I take “good care” of our clients (thank you JP!). I play a small role in these relationships, but I do try to create helpful and accessible spaces for our community members, even by means of simple email communication (when I sign off with “warmly,” I mean it!). I am happy to hear from clients, our generous Knowledge Philanthropists, and our own incredible consultants about the impact of our work and any learnings we can build on. Like all my colleagues, I am always working to improve my understanding – and respond to – organizations’ and individuals’ needs. The one-on-one engagements we do with organizations through our education and consulting work also informs our Sector Development efforts, so we can lift the sector’s capacity on an individual, organizational, and structural level. This multifaceted impact we strive for also makes me grateful to work at Vantage Point.

I started working in this sector at Pillar Nonprofit Network when I lived in London, Ontario. My internship was during the winter months, and I’d commute by bike when I could. I’ve banked many miles between then and now. These days, I work virtually from Vancouver, commuting from my bedroom to my living room/office space and biking outside of ‘office hours’. Although I’m still early on in my career in this sector and navigating what it even means to have a career, I’m thankful to be surrounded by a deeply caring and fun not-for-profit community, peddling away together to create a transformative and lasting (positive) impact. Picture all of us on one of those party bikes…

Author

Olivia Gordon

Olivia is our Client and Program Delivery Coordinator, who is the first to greet our clients interested in custom and on-site delivery opportunities. She brings a thoughtful, compassionate, and critical thinking lens to her work. She cares deeply about social and environmental justice…

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