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The 2012 Nonprofit Summer Olympics

August 09, 2012

What Olympic sport would best represent your Not-for-Profit Organization?

This week I have been asking my clients: if your agency was in the London summer Olympics, what sport would embody your organization? The responses were very interesting.

By far, Gymnastics was the sport with which most people identified. Perhaps because Gymnastics has been in the Olympic movement since 1896 and it receives by far the most television coverage, it is on people’s minds. But many clients identified with the overall team event where everyone must contribute to the success of the entire entity – just like how everyone in a nonprofit organization or at any company, must do their part. Some mentioned the floor exercises which incorporate a great deal of running, tumbling and ultimately having to finish on a high note and “stick the landing”. Clients mentioned that we do a number of different things but it all has to come together at the end. No one identified with the parallel bars – I think it just looks too painful.

The balance beam struck a chord with some. They see their agency as performing a great deal of gymnastics throughout the year but still having to stay in balance overall.

Beach volleyball, a new event only part of the medals since 1996, was appealing to some. They see the two participants trying to cover a great deal of territory, working together to meet their objective. The games are fairly close and losing a point now and then does not mean that ultimate success is not achievable. With each new serve there is a new opportunity for success.

Some agencies felt that the men’s decathlon was most like their agency. They have many different programs that contribute to the success of their mission and many of the staff have to be proficient in multiple areas. One of my clients identified with one of the decathlon sports – the 110 meter high hurdles. They felt that the agency continually moves forward facing hurdle after hurdle and success is dependent not necessarily on how fast you travel but how you negotiate the hurdles placed on your path.

The water polo event reminded some that they always appear to be treading water while trying to accomplish their mission that lies above the water line. I actually thought that the water polo players could touch the bottom of the pool (like you can when you play water volleyball at a resort on vacation) but was surprised a few Olympics ago when I discovered that they are playing in water that is 6.5 ft. deep. This is very difficult and I hope that water polo is not what most nonprofit organizations identify with.

Lastly, one client identified with synchronized swimming. I was afraid to ask why.

What Olympic sport reminds you most of your organization? Think about your nonprofit organization and what Olympic event is closest to your operation.

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