Non-Profits Require Flexibility

Jasbina Ahluwalia

Let’s take our next question. Welcome, caller. Please feel free to ask your question.



Caller Two asks Deepa Iyer, former Executive Director of South Asian Americans Leading Together, SAALT: Hi, Deepa. This is Aditi. Thank you so much for joining us today. You have an amazing wealth of knowledge that really helped me understand non-profits better.

I have a two-part question. One of them is mine and one we have on our Facebook event.

You mentioned adapting your work style to be successful in non-profits. I wanted to find out more about what that would look like. How would one adapt their work style to be successful in a non-profit?


Deepa Iyer

Non-Profits Require Flexibility: Understand The Culture

I think it’s important to understand the culture of the non-profit first.

Every non-profit is different, but there are some characteristics that all non-profits share, especially if they’re on the smaller end.

Some of those characteristics are that it is usually a very rapidly changing environment. Things are moving very quickly.


Non-Profits Require Flexibility: Adapt

One would have to be able to be flexible and adapt to some of those changing priorities, timelines and needs.


Non-Profits Require Flexibility: Community Needs

That’s one example of making sure that your work style will align with a small non-profit that tends to change very quickly because of the needs in the community.


Non-Profits Require Flexibility: Shape the Organization

A second one is to be really invested in trying to shape the culture of the non-profit.

In a lot of non-profits, you will have directors that set the tone and culture. It’s really important that all staff, from entry level and onward, feel like they want to help to change the culture. They want to set a certain culture.


Non-Profits Require Flexibility: Example

For example, I was just talking to a director at a non-profit who said that it’s mandatory that everyone sit down around their conference room table and have lunch together.

Usually, we’re used to eating lunch in front of our computers, going out for lunch or skipping lunch.

This non-profit really takes the time to make sure that everyone sits around the table. They don’t answer phone calls, check their emails or iPhones during that time.

They use it as a time to connect.


Non-Profits Require Flexibility: Sense of Community

I think it was a staff member who had come up with this idea. Those are ways to help to change the tone and culture of the non-profit. That will be really important.

There are people who tend to be really interested in being around other people and create that sense of community.

Those are some characteristics of people who I think thrive at non-profits and enjoy working at non-profits, especially the smaller and more under-resourced ones.


Caller Two

Okay. That makes a lot of sense. You just answered the question of the person on Facebook.

Alverna was asking, “Adapting work style is one thing, but how could you bring change about that could potentially benefit the non-profit?” You answered that about shaping the tone. Thank you for answering both of those questions.


Deepa Iyer

You’re welcome.


Tell Us:

Non-profits require flexibility, do you attain this mindset? Do you see yourself working for a non-profit? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.


The above is an excerpt from Jasbina’s interview with Deepa Iyer

The entire interview transcript is at: Deepa Iyer NetIP (Network of Indian Professionals) Interview – Leading & Working at Non-Profits

Listen to the entire interview on: Intersections Match Talk Radio – Jasbina’s Lifestyle Show

Listen to the entire interview on Blog Talk Radio: NetIP Spotlight- Live Your Potential: Leading & Working at Nonprofits

Listen to the entire interview on iTunes