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LinkedIn Post #16 - September 5th 2023 - Challenges with Non-Profits

While working in #nonprofits I've had the opportunity to travel around the world, visit many communities, and witness different ways of life.

In 2017 I had the opportunity to visit Udaipur, India, the City of Lakes in the northwestern province of Rajasthan. During my trip I met the woman pictured here, but I cannot recall her name.

We were around the same age and both had graduate degrees in History. She was laughing at me because of my struggle to make the bread properly.

I've visited communities in Ecuador's Amazon and Chimborazo regions, meeting Indigenous Quichua people and hearing their stories of fighting for access to clean water.

I traveled to the rock churches of Lalibela in the Amhara region of Ethiopia, meeting a community of people living in isolation in the mountains who shared their stories of being forgotten by the government.

But I'm unconvinced I had to travel to these places and meet these people to understand the impacts of poverty on peoples' lives.

In both India and Ecuador I was facilitating volunteer trips with students from Canada and the United States. These were expensive trips meant to be immersive experiences where students would work alongside community members to build classrooms or work on other development projects.

Even at the time, I saw the harms of voluntourism. I tried to believe that people would return home and become advocates for change.

But I knew it there was nothing about these trips that were going to lead to any lasting change for the communities we were visiting.

Working in non-profits oftentimes involves grappling with some, or a lot, or cognitive dissonance. I tried without success to reconcile my values and beliefs with working in some of these spaces.

I remember constantly looking for all of the positive impacts the work we were doing had, trying to find any evidence that the work we were doing was net-positive.

It takes a toll. People who work in non-profits or other changemaking spaces experiencing cognitive dissonance may feel stress, powerlessness, and guilt, and not everyone is able to simply quit their job.

There are a few times throughout my time in the non-profit space where I know a coach could have supported me in navigating the challenges I was facing.

I didn't have the tools I have now to speak up for what I believe in, to understand my emotional response, and to identify a path forward.

So now I offer what I didn't have, to others.

I work with folks who are doing the work to make the world a more just and equitable place and partner with them to build resilience, work through compassion fatigue, avoid burnout, maintain hope, and forge clear paths forward in their journey.

If this sounds like you, I'd love to connect!


👋 I'm Gill, a certified #coach who works with changemakers and (un)professionals✊

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Gill, a white woman on the left of the picture laughing with an Indian woman, who is on the left. The woman was showing Gill how to make naan and was laughing at Gill for not being good at it. They are inside the woman's small home in a rural Indian village in north western India.

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