Entering into a new year is a good time to reflect upon why we do this work.
Looking back twenty-five years ago I remember being at a crossroads in my own career. In a new community, I didn’t know anybody or what employer might be the right, reputable, place to expand my career. I sought out a local coach to determine what opportunities were in the city. I wasn’t looking for just any job; this girl was ready to advance her career.
The coach had me take a career assessment based on what I enjoyed and had the skill to excel in. That assessment revealed nonprofit leadership to be a perfect fit. What!? I instantly disregarded that assessment because it didn’t understand me at all. I was all about business, entrepreneurship, creating revenue growth, building something out of nothing, and making an impact. Most importantly, I needed to make money. The nonprofit sector didn’t provide that!
Four months later, the nonprofit sector found me and I became the Director of Operations for the Missouri Restaurant Association. The salary was meager, however it came with great benefits. I did get to eat, and drink, out every single day for four years. (I call those my burp and cheers years.) It turned out to be the perfect combination of what I enjoyed doing: advancing my skills while creating impact. This was just the beginning of finding my own groove, my own purpose which led me to Nonprofit Connect. What’s your purpose?
Becoming a nonprofit professional takes the combination of a special person and the desire or willingness to do special work. Twenty-five years ago, that coach reminded me that all people are climbing their life mountain. Those mountains come with different terrains, have varying heights, and peak in unique places. The beginning of a new year seems like a good time to stop and take a look at your own mountain. Where are you at? How’s that climb going for you?
What does the mountain look like for those we serve? We’ll likely never know. I like to think the help we provide is like that tree you see growing on the side of the mountain. You know that one tree that seems to peek out among a solid wall of stone. How does that happen? The work we’re doing is like nurturing a seed of opportunity for those enduring hardship, seeking the sun despite difficult surroundings. We’re striving to foster positive change in a world full of strangers. Isn’t that purpose?
That purpose is what drives us, even when everything else around you seems like it’s falling apart. The impact is what keeps us striving to get up tomorrow and work at it again. Seeing the circumstances change, the goal reached, the hope returned, the injustice righted, brings us joy.
Keep that joy alive by reserving a little time for yourself. You can find online personal development on topics including productivity, activism, mentorship, and leadership in Nonprofit Connect’s new and improved eLearning Center.
Your Organization’s Purpose
The nonprofit organizations we work for are a source of inspiration for those seeking support or community. As employees, this gives us shared reason to get up in the morning to go to work. The work provided by the organization is as strong as the professionals working in it, and the volunteers supporting it.
Your organization’s purpose is likely to improve quality of life for others in our community or across the globe. We do this without the desire for private or financial gain, but for the advancement of public interest. We know that if we meet the needs of our fellow citizens, then we are helping elevate our entire community. Our work is not a hand-out, but a hand-up. Haven’t we all had a time in our life where we just needed a little help from someone to get us out of a tough time? We needed someone to help us find that next stepping stone on the mountain. This fulfills a mission and serves a place in our community.
If you’re looking for the right opportunity to meet the needs of our community, find open nonprofit jobs, board positions and volunteer opportunities in Nonprofit Connect’s Career Center.
Our Community’s Purpose
Nonprofit organizations play a vital role in building healthy communities by providing critical services that contribute to economic stability and mobility. We also strengthen communities in other important ways. Frequently, nonprofit leaders are the voice of the people they serve. Thanks to the combination of strong community relationships and intimate local knowledge, these organizations often understand better than anyone else their community’s needs and the best ways to meet them. Nonprofits that are connected to the decision-making infrastructure in their communities can catalyze growth and opportunity.
A robust nonprofit sector is essential for strong communities. Our voice matters in representing a portion of the community and should be included among key conversations with civic leaders, elected officials, and the business leaders who shape the policies directly impacting the communities we serve. A strong nonprofit sector is key to a thriving community. We need to do better in generating alignment between nonprofit, civic and business leaders.
That’s why Nonprofit Connect commissioned a report to help us all better understand the remarkable depth and significance of Kansas City’s nonprofits to the region’s overall economy and quality of life. Join us February 5 for the release of the Kansas City Nonprofit Impact Report.
Our community will only continue to flourish when government, business and nonprofits work in tandem. The work done in each of our organizations is key to creating a better community and gives it purpose.
An organization fulfills its purpose when it is filled with people who want to achieve a common mission.
The work you do is not about you, it’s about others. Do you have something in your life the moves you, drives you, motivates you, brings you to great passion? Is that something about other people, someone else? Is it about how you can help them be what they strive to be? And, in doing so you find fulfillment? If so, this is your purpose.
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