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5 tips for acing your performance review in nonprofit operations



You’ve been working hard all year to do your part to save the world. You’ve been crushing projects, raising funds, and sharpening your skills. Now it’s time to sit down with your boss for a candid performance review about how you’ve been doing and what your future holds.

Maybe that sounds intimidating, but don’t be scared. This isn’t just for them. This is your best chance to showcase the great work you’ve been doing while advancing your career. With this advice, you can turn your nonprofit performance reviews into a launchpad for your goals.

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Telling your own story

Your organization is probably filled with people who are just as driven to make the world a better place as you. What sets you apart? What makes you uniquely able to advance the cause? What skills do you exclusively bring to the table? In this performance review, you need to show your boss what makes you special.

You also need to do that with data. Over the course of the year, keep logs of your milestones and accomplishments. Metrics that quantify what you’ve achieved and how you’ve grown over the past year can be a powerful tool to back up your story. Rather than simply telling your boss how awesome you are, you can prove it.

Negotiating for the year ahead

Money is so often short in a nonprofit. Rather than thinking about what you want, perhaps you should think about what you want to improve. The coming year might not hold a big promotion or raise, but you’re in this line of work to help make the world a better place. You’re surely bursting with ideas on how to do that. Think about what support you need from this organization to accomplish that mission, and research projects and professional development opportunities that won’t the budget.

While you’re at it, you may even want to leverage the more personal nature of the nonprofit world to request more regular check-ins rather than a single annual check-up.



What skills do you exclusively bring to the table? In this performance review, you need to show your boss what makes you special.

Be prepared

Whether it’s an annual fundraiser, a big project, or a nonprofit employee performance review, the key is always preparation. Consider what questions you’re going to ask and what topics of discussion you want to cover. What do you see as the future of your organization? What obstacles does it face, and how best can it weather them? How will your organization evolve in the coming year or two?

Slipping insightful questions into the performance evaluation can help you develop a closer bond with your supervisor and show you’re a big-picture thinker. If you show up prepared, you’ll walk out successful.

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What’s holding you back?

Everyone has obstacles, whether they’re internal or external. Be honest about yours, and consider how you can jump those hurdles in the coming year, and what you need from your organization to do so. Your boss might even be impressed by your problem-solving skills.

Accepting feedback

No one is perfect. Even though we have it on good authority that you’re pretty great, even though you’ve already identified your own challenges and how to overcome them, you’re still going to get some criticism during this performance evaluation.

Your first response to feedback should be a simple thank you. If you don’t quite get it, ask some questions to clarify and make sure you understand the take-away. This is a chance for you to see your blind spots and improve.

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