Back in 2003, when I started working at thedatabank, my last name was Lemke and Twitter wasn’t invented yet.

In the past nine years I’ve seen the rise of mobile devices and social media, a recession that hit nonprofits with greater demand for services at the same time funding was drying up, increased scrutiny of the public sector, and through it all, the growth of this company. Against this backdrop I learned the intricate dance of work-life balance, becoming a spouse and a mother of two, a manager, a board member, and a congregational leader.
Reflecting on my tenure at thedatabank, I see a few themes emerge, constants in the nonprofit technology equation:

1. It’s not about you. Building support for a nonprofit organization means understanding the supporters’ point of view, what the cause means to them, and what difference they are making.

2. It’s about people. Over and over, I’ve discovered that what presents itself as a technology problem is really a people problem. The right tools are essential, sure, but you also need a blueprint that everyone understands, enough workers to get the job done, and a foreman to direct and motivate. Even then, fears and ambitions, trust or distrust, and the baby not sleeping through the night, can make the difference between success and failure. Humans are beautifully complicated, aren’t they?

3. There’s hope. Yes! I have the evidence. If the brilliant young professionals entering the nonprofit sector now go on to be its leaders, there is hope. If thedatabank can run a profitable business with a social mission, there is hope.

At thedatabank, I’ve been involved in everything from product development to customer service to ordering the coffee, and I’m proud to have helped shape the company into what it is today. My departure means many changes for thedatabank, but you can trust that thedatabank’s commitment to their mission and their clients will remain the same. That is not simply something I crow about as a spokesperson; it is real, and shared by every employee.

To my readers, colleagues, and friends: thank you for nine wonderful years.

~Karen

P.S. What could possibly lure me away from such a great job? Subscribe to Mileposts, the MAP for Nonprofits blog where I will be publishing from now on, and you’ll find out.

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