Using Our Power for Good
Let’s face it, most of us are motivated by something: money, attention, peer recognition, praise or all of the above.
But careers in the nonprofit space can provide a deeper sense of gratification—our hard work doesn’t just make a difference to us, but has a direct impact on someone or something else.
Obviously, we aren’t the only ones whose work has a direct impact on others. But, currently, a few careers that should provide positive impacts are taking a collective emotional toll on us. I’m referring to the latest spate of police violence and the vitriol in politics.
Lately, to me anyway, it feels like a big light is shining on how a number of these folks are not working in our communities’ best interests—and I’m starting to feel exhausted by it. I think a lot of us are.
So I’d like to use my power (of the pen) to remind all of us who are connected to the nonprofit world that we, too, can have great power. And we must use it for good.
Look at industry start-ups. They didn’t take their ideas straight to the masses for the biggest return on investment. They dreamed up niche concepts, technologies and tools because they genuinely care about the intent of their products: to do good.
I recently had the pleasure of hearing Saul Rosenblum explain how he co-founded Generosity Series, a platform that empowers small nonprofits to raise money through 5K events. Marathon running led to an unplanned grassroots fundraising campaign for a food pantry, which led to helping other small, local nonprofits fundraise through walk/runs, inspiring the creation of the platform. Brilliant!
I also spoke with Golden Volunteer, a platform that easily enables nonprofits, schools, companies and individuals to offer and find the best-fitting volunteer opportunities in their communities. It also screens volunteers, tracks time, monitors locations for safety, connects to friends and provides other tools that empower the organization and the volunteer to do more for their communities.
The nonprofit world wants to foster impact and change. In the Stanford Social Innovation Review, I read how Heather McLeod Grant and Leslie R. Crutchfield studied 12 varied, high-impact organizations, and found that real social change did not come when the organizations strengthened internal management capabilities, but when they went outside their walls and flew in the face of conventional wisdom.
A few key takeaways from this: You don’t need perfect management or breakthrough new ideas. Sometimes tweaking an old idea will lead to success. You don’t have to focus on a perfect mission statement if you’re busy living it. And, sticking to conventional metrics, ratios and ratings could hold you back.
Nonprofits have opportunities to be powerful forces of change.
Think about where we’d be without the efforts of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, the predecessor to today’s League of Women Voters, and its role in ratifying the 19th Amendment. Consider how many lives have been saved thanks to Ralph Nader’s Center for Study of Responsive Law, which led to the passage of the 1966 National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act, establishing the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The list of social change and impact is long and impressive. And it has very real effects on every single one of us, every single day.