What Do We Want? Nonprofits! When Do We Want Them? Now!

Do we really need more nonprofits? Simple answer…YES!

 When I read this post by one of my new favorite nonprofit bloggers, I was a little taken back that she even encountered “Do Gooders” who were discouraging fellow idealists. I quickly recovered when I remembered the anxieties experienced by former coworkers who worried if our program was going to be the next budget cut. I’m not so naïve to think that the competition for funding isn’t great. However, as a person who has utilized and worked in social services I cannot sit back and watch the increased need for resources and hope someone else will step up to the plate to get things done. Looking back, being so worried about the next paycheck should have prompted us to take action to help secure funding and cultivate relations with donors and potential donors so that we would be less dependent on state funding.

One of the small lessons I can take from my experiences and share with those of you who are working in direct care for a program; be proactive in informing your Development and Communications department about the good work you and your coworkers are doing to improve the quality of life for your clients being served. One way to keep funding and help get more funding is to highlight real life testimonies and experiences.  Don’t be afraid to talk about how the lack of staff and lack of training on best work practices hinders your program from feeding a family in need or I don’t know, saving a life. Perhaps, as we share the needs of our programs we can encourage others to fulfill those needs because let’s face it; there are way too many problems in this world and not enough solutions addressing the needs of the people. Case in point, I live in a state where the housing department stopped taking applications altogether because the waiting list was too backed up. Why would anyone discourage someone who wants to open another homeless shelter or soup kitchen?

Nonprofits are needed but I wouldn’t be realistic if I didn’t say, we also need people who are willing to aid the causes of nonprofits too. In response to Mazarine’s post, I posed a question; How do we, (We being anyone who wants to do their part in fostering social change), find and encourage more philanthropic minded people so that established nonprofits don’t squabble and feel intimated by new change makers onto the scene? I would love to hear your suggestions.

Where Do I Go From Here?

 I was having one of those “blah” moments with my best friend. Once again we were trying to figure out what the heck we wanted for our lives. I no longer worked with a social services agency, and she was feeling burned out after a few years as an RN. Our whole life we wanted to help people and make a difference in our communities, and just like that it seemed we had no more fight in us.  I felt sick about where my life was heading. How dare I have no more fight in me!?! According to my own standards, I had not even put in my dues. I learned relatively quickly that, as much as I wanted to, I could not save the world single-handedly; but that was no excuse not to play my part. After being drilled on making sure the numbers looked right for state funding I had forgotten why I cared anymore. 

    For reasons of our own we both went into pity party mode. You know the: “life sucks then you die” mentality. We both decided we had no talent or special skills. We had college degrees, but still felt it was a waste of time and money because we no longer had a passion for our chosen fields.

    As much as I wanted someone to comfort me, I did not enjoy the company down misery lane. I did not want to sink back into a hole that I had finally decided not to waste anymore time in. You see, I had come to a point where I had everything I thought I wanted for my life: a career I was actually interested in; ownership of my own car and home; I had married young, and the only debt we had were student loans. It was a hard pill to swallow when, in some fashion, I lost it all. I had no idea what I was supposed to do with my life anymore. I was angry at myself and I was angry at God. I did not understand it then but I was under attack and I was not prepared for battle. It took me some time, some interesting resources and positive people in my life, to acknowledge and accept myself (my true unmasked identity) and discover a new love and understanding of what God meant to me. In this process of self discovery, I got connected with a church and came across some really cool personality tests which helped me point out some of my strengths as well as some things I wanted to improve on. The church encouraged an old yet still relevant idea: “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others”.

    Armed with the knowledge of my passions and the causes I would love to volunteer in, I remembered why I cared. During that “blah” moment, my best friend and I concluded that we had a choice: we could stay in pity party mode, or we could press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (phil3:14). We both knew that in order to get anywhere in life we had to start with putting an end to our negative thinking and remembering our self-worth. While working on replacing those old habits of negative thinking, I knew volunteer work would be a great place to start rebuilding a life I never want to take for granted again.

Here are some volunteer organizations I came across during my research: