In the busyness of nonprofit organizations, sometimes we forget what drew us to this work in the first place. We lose sight of what we can uniquely offer to the world.
For me, the nonprofit sector is a place where people are honest about the challenges in the community but lean into their creativity and work together to solve problems. I’ve always been drawn to that sense of purpose and belonging.
Yet, that mutuality and sense of community can be elusive even in the nonprofit sector. In NPO lingo, we’re not always good at the cultivation and stewardship aspects of the donor development cycle. Sometimes we’re so focused on meeting our KPIs that we lose sight of our shared humanity.
Let me tell you about Reggie, who reminds me about the power and beauty of fostering community.
Reggie was a local mail carrier in my neighborhood. I don’t live on his route, but Reggie always had a smile and a kind word for me when I was out walking my dog. (He called my dog, Sparky, which I assume is the name he used for all dogs not on his route.)
Recently, Reggie retired after 24 years delivering mail on the same few blocks. And our entire town showered Reggie with love, as described in this local newspaper article. Yards and sidewalks were decorated with signs to wish Reggie well in his retirement.
People showed up for Reggie, just as he had always show up for them.
During all those previous years, Reggie attended block parties and funerals. He carried treats for the local dogs and cats. He chatted with residents and knew what was happening in their lives. He truly saw them and fostered community through his authentic caring.
He did what nonprofits can and should do: help all of us feel less alone.
Reggie stood out from the other 516,636 postal workers (Statista). Similarly, there are more than 1.5 million nonprofits in the United States. Does your organization stand out?
Set aside some time over the next month to spend time with your organization’s community. Show up at a local meeting. Call program participants and ask them how they’re doing. Thank donors for continuing to believe in this mission. Jot a note to someone who fosters community and makes you feel a sense of belonging.
Be like Reggie. Make this world a more friendly place.