Pearl and Mel Shaw FC CCAs the year comes to an end there will be family celebrations, travels, and delicious meals. In between the many activities we hope you will also have time to reflect. We hope you can let your thoughts wander over the year that is ending, and extend into the year that is to come. Open your heart and mind to questions only you can answer. “Where did you find joy?” “What about disappointment?” “Were there dreams that came true?” “Dreams that were deferred?” These are personal reflections. They are also nonprofit reflections. Here are some additional touchstones to guide your reflections.

Conversations. In the bustle of daily activity we sometimes overlook the impact of a conversation. Was there someone you talked with this year who “opened the door” for you? Did he or she introduce you to a new partner? Facilitate new opportunities for the children you serve? Perhaps there was a conversation that led to a new way to engage advocates and policy makers? What about the conferences and meetings you attended? Were you exposed to a new idea that you brought back to your nonprofit and began to implement?

Challenges. When you experienced challenges this year, how did you grow? If there were budget cuts, were you able to reorganize your staff or programs in a new way? Were you able to create new partnerships or to consider a merger? If you lost a key staff person or board member, were you able to look at your work culture and board configuration, and regroup in a positive way?

Successes. Did you receive funding for a new program, and during the process of implementation uncover challenges you hadn’t anticipated? Did you find a better way to implement your program once you began the actual work? Were you embraced by new donors or sponsors?

Bigger Questions. We hope you will find time to reflect on the bigger questions as well. These include “what could we do differently?” “Are we truly meeting our goals?” “Have we become used to doing things a certain way, assuming we are making an impact?” and “are we really making a difference?” Sometimes these get lost in the daily rush. We don’t have time to step back and think about “the big picture.”

We hope you will have a few days off, with unstructured time to allow your creativity and intuition to guide your reflections and help you prepare for 2016.

We will think of you – our readers – throughout the holiday season. We look forward to sharing 2016 with you, offering suggestions that may help guide your way.

Mel and Pearl Shaw wish you a joyous holiday season. For more reflections and suggestions visit