A message from Chris Marlow: Celebration is fuel for the journey at hand.


Step 7: Celebration

It's so easy to be addicted to work and progress that we forget to create ONE very important ritual: we forget to pause and celebrate the success of the organization!


I have been a HORRIBLE example of how to do this well, and I need to improve. Yet, I do remember the moments when our team paused and celebrated. Those moments were invaluable.

Here are why they are so vital:

Fuel for the Journey


I have to be honest.  Leading a successful organization is exhausting—spiritually, mentally and physically. It takes everything you have to lead year after year.


Our culture is so addicted to progress and the "next" thing on the to-do list that we forget how important it is to have fun and celebrate.


Here's what I've learned: when I celebrate with my team, it gives us the fuel we need to continue the journey. The road is long; celebrating is like stopping to gas up, get some coffee, and freshen up for the next leg of the journey.


Celebration fuels progress, creativity, and innovation.


When I stop and enjoy the beauty and success of all our hard work, I can feel the gratitude seeping through my soul. The fact that I get to be part of such an amazing story and celebrate with my teammates is life giving.

The benefits far outweigh the time and resources it can take to stop and have some fun.

Positive Company Culture

I have plenty of weaknesses as a leader. One is that I’m a driver - I'm never satisfied. I'm always focused on "what's next." If I'm not careful, I will burn out and so will my team.


As a leader, I have to process the reality of soul care. I'm leading real people who have families, needs, and lots of ups and downs in life.


When we stop and celebrate, we are creating positive company culture. We are letting our team know that we love them, that we appreciate them, that we know how hard they work and sacrifice.


We laugh, cry, sing, and remember all the good and bad times. When we do that, we're creating a culture that values people over progress and we're also creating a place where people WANT to work.


If people don't want to work for your organization, you have a big problem. Either you don't have the resources to pay well (which is only okay for a season), you're not fulfilling your vision, or potential staffers can't imagine working for/with you on a day to day basis.


Let's be honest--your success always depends on your team. If you can't hire team members who are passionate and talented, then your organization is dead.

You must do whatever is necessary to create a culture that has fun and celebrates often.


Allow the Tribe to Experience the Progress

As a nonprofit, we rely on our amazing tribe to help fulfill the vision of ending extreme poverty. We ask them to sacrifice deeply, and we involve them in some heavy global issues.


It's so easy for us to overwhelm them, but that would be a big mistake. Overwhelmed people usually give up or become paralyzed.


When we stop to celebrate and have fun, we're connecting with our tribe on a human level. Often, we do this through the most simplest (and silliest) of ways. For example, one Friday we decided to have a have dance-off between our Austin and Raleigh teams.


We used social media to judge the winner. Folks loved it, and they also started filming their own dance-offs as well. We just had some fun on a Friday afternoon.


Here’s a video of our kids and some of our tribe members who were visiting them. They were just having some fun. :-)


We also send thank you cards, videos from our in-country projects, and goofy, fun pictures of our supported children. Here's the thing--it's so easy and inexpensive to create a fun culture and involve your tribe in the process.


Yes, we deal with some deep issues, but we're also humans who desire to be connected, have fun, and enjoy life. This helps us stay on mission long term.



Life can get so busy that it's easy to miss out on the opportunity to celebrate. You have to be intentional; trust me, add these events to your calendar and add some funds in the budget.


And then …  party! Have fun and enjoy all the amazing work your organization is doing together.


Here are some practical ways that we've celebrated and created memories as an organization:


- We hosted an “all hands” dinner for all our staff and advisory board in Austin.

- Many Fridays, we shut down the office and head out for an hour to a local coffee shop or restaurant and eat good food and laugh.  

- When we are together in Haiti or Africa, we will spend time relaxing at night with our team and local leaders. Some of the best memories are captured in these organic moments.

- We grab random lunches in the middle of the week.

- Several times a month, we send quick emails and thank you cards.


There are so many ways to do this; most are neither time consuming nor expensive.


If you're celebrating well, awesome!  Keep it up! If you don't, stop what you are doing and write down 2-3 ways you can begin to create a culture that celebrates well. Do one in the next 10 days and build from that foundation.  


Also, if you missed the any recent parts of the series, click below to catch up.


Chris Marlow

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