Nonprofits – is it just about the Mission?

Does the nonprofit community have a greater purpose?  Do we owe more to the social contract than just our mission? I would say yes.

In the video above, Deirdre Jones (Associate Director of the University of Toledo’s Schmidt School of Professional Sales) talks about how to get sustainable financial and non-financial support from like-minded individuals and organizations so non-profits can execute their missions properly.

Each nonprofit organization has its own mission which drives (or should drive) each and every decision made by the board of directors, the leadership team, patrons, the staff and volunteers.  We become involved in a nonprofit organization because it speaks to us from our hearts. Our connection, at first, may simply be employment and my path certainly started this way. But we stay because we become emotionally attached to our work and the lives we are changing.

I want to make a different point here. I believe the Third Sector, the nonprofit community, has a greater role to play in the social fabric of our society other than just fulfilling our specific mission.  We are given preferential tax status by the government and our patrons gain a benefit by giving to us.  So, we owe to give back in every way possible. As I write tonight I would like to offer one example: childhood obesity.

Let’s look at just one example. 25.8 million adults and children in the United States have diabetes. Another 79 million people are prediabetic and are well on their way to a complete diagnosis. Diet and weight play a significant role in this development in the health of this country. I was diagnosed with Type II diabetes in June 2013 with a blood sugar level of 316 (normal is 70-90). Childhood obesity is reaching pandemic proportions in the United States.  Nearly two-thirds of U.S. teenagers are overweight or obese. That equates to 23 million children. We will pay a price for this trend in the future in illness, disease and a lack of productivity.

So what does this have to do with your nonprofit organization? It is simple. Start thinking about what you can incorporate into your mission to address the poorness of diet, lack of exercise and general acceptance of obesity in this country. You don’t have to change anything. It doesn’t have to be a primary or secondary impact. It can be your tertiary impact. Look around your organization. Do you have vending machines? Do you inadvertently promote obesity by the choices you have made?

Running a nonprofit properly is first and foremost a matter resource, financial and non-financial. Many nonprofits are run by people who have not been professionally trained. So if this is also the case with your nonprofit, you really should find someone who understands the world of nonprofits, who can take on the responsibility to direct your program in the good direction, who can manage it well and can find the resources required to have it run properly.

We are not the government and we are not private industry. We are the Third Sector of our nation and if we want real and sustained change to occur, it will be up to us. We have already demonstrated our commitment to changing the social fabric by the work we do every day. What can you do?

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