By Ruth Masterson, Exponent Philanthropy
I am, at least in theory, a big believer in taking breaks. I’ve found support in New York Times articles like To Stay on Schedule, Take a Break and Relax! You’ll be More Productive. But, if you’re anything like me, it’s easier said than done.
Mix my belief in the power of breaks with the wisdom in Dori Krieger’s recent blog post Get Out More in 2014, which talks about the value of person-to-person connections, and we have a perfect recipe for taking time out for professional development. It’s a win-win, guilt-free refreshment.
Getting out of one’s routine creates mental space, cultivates alertness, and exposes us to new information and perspectives. This space allows new ideas and inspiration to enter. We return to our work motivated, ready to ask new questions, and implement new strategies.
And one more rationale for professional development: data. I’m responsible for member surveys here at Exponent Philanthropy, and I noticed several items of interest when reviewing the data from our recent CONNECT conference, which highlighted ways for participants to, yes, you got it, connect.
In our post-conference survey, participants reported that the best part of the conference was networking with peers. Participants also said that they learned new information (rating overall learning 4.31 on a scale of 1 to 5, where 5 is “can’t imagine better”), and 96% say they went home feeling motivated and equipped to do something differently. Professional development makes a real and measurable difference!
We’re certainly proud of our programs and all they offer. There are many other events as well where you can network, learn new things, and go home feeling inspired. Here are a few places to start:
- Exponent Philanthropy’s Educational Programs calendar lists all our upcoming events. Don’t forget to save-the date for our 2014 National Conference in Washington, DC, October 30–November 1.
- The Chronicle of Philanthropy and Council on Foundations each provide a listing of conferences and programs for philanthropists.
- Find your regional association through the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers and connect with other funders in your community.
- Interaction Institute is a personal favorite, offering a range of trainings to teach skills and tools in topics such as facilitative leadership, collaboration, and measuring change.
As for myself, I’ve decided to put my theory into practice. Last week, I registered for a 2-day training in May.
What professional development will you participate in this year?
Senior Program Director Ruth Masterson works closely with members to create written materials and training curricula, and answers member questions on foundation administration, governance, boards, and tax and legal topics. She is also is the project manager for Exponent Philanthropy’s Practical Board Self-Assessment. Prior to joining Exponent Philanthropy, Ruth served nonprofits in her work at Adler & Colvin, the Council on Foundations, and the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law.