6 Thoughts for the Nonprofit Sector

If you are reading this I assume you have at least a passing interest in the nonprofit world.  Whether you are employed in the Third Sector, volunteer for your favorite organization, or just want to make a difference in this world you have experienced or will experience, the days where you do that, may just be plain tiring and/or frustrating. It is part of the chase. This week’s post is not about the “nuts and bolts” of nonprofit issues; it is about why we do what we do.

Interesting in the following TEDxCrenshaw video in which Areva Martin, a civil rights attorney, talks about her experience as a child when she received help from nonprofit organizations and setting up her own nonprofit for children with special needs. Why would we call the organizations nonprofits when we, in fact, all profit? Just take a look:

Respect is earned. Honor is given. Who doesn’t want to be respected? We put in long hours for our organizations. We give blood, sweat, and tears. Most who enter the nonprofit domain do not do so for monetary rewards. We give respect and we earn it through our good works. However, honor is given. The Third Sector is in the midst of the largest generational turnover in leadership experience in its history. We do not have to agree with all that was done by those who came before us. However, we must honor their efforts. And we must honor those we serve.

If you’re not dead, you’re not done. Barbara Hillary, a cancer survivor, was among the oldest people to make it to the North Pole and she was the first black woman to do so. Viktor Frankl, whose experiences at Auschwitz lead to his writing of “Man’s Search for Meaning,” continued to teach until he was 85. Your best days are ahead of you. How can you use your wisdom, knowledge, and talent to affect positive change?

The Next Generation. We are quick to label those behind us and it has not been uncommon to see the next generation as the most entitled in history. If this is the case then we need to look nowhere else but in the mirror. But they are committed to change and making a difference. Whatever your passion for change, lead this generation. Manage your nonprofit well. Give them a path and trust them. You owe this to them.

Hope is infectious, but so is despair. Mother Teresa once said, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the water to create many ripples.” Never doubt your efforts are making a difference. If you can make the world a better place, for even one day, for one person, you have affected change. Give hope freely and defend others from despair.

Be a heretic. No, I am not asking you to give up your faith. But I am asking you to see things as you have never seen them before through your eyes. Significant change comes from those who are willing to do something the way it has never been done before. If nothing else, be a heretic to yourself and get out of your comfort zone. Stretch.

Wait no more. Jim Cotter, an older gentleman from Glouster, Ohio, lost his wife a few years back.  Glouster, Ohio is a coal-mining town that has been in decline for a great many years. To ease the pain of his loss, Jim starting painting the town. He started with a fire hydrant. Next, he painted a fence. Soon, Jim found himself painting houses. Other noticed and joined his efforts.  Groups of people have bussed into Glouster to join his single-man mission. When asked what advice he would give, Jim said, “Don’t wait. Don’t wait for some money. Don’t wait for grants. Just start.” Find what moves you, stand for it, and make a difference while you are here.

When you are a staff member, a volunteer, or a director who was charged with the responsibility of raising funds for your nonprofit, you have some serious duties and tasks to perform. If this is your role, you want to know all about fundraising, don’t you? Check out this post about budget advocacy training and how to conduct interviews with policy-makers. There’s also a wealth of information about federal tax policy analyses and issues that will definitely affect your nonprofit and about the state legislature, rules, and processes that are adjusted continuously, it seems.