OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA[In an effort to connect an environmental studies degree with some true “hire me” skills, I’m taking classes for a Non-Profit Management professional certificate. The more I learn about  strategic planning, board management, advocacy and lobbying, grant writing, and other non-profit structures, the more I see the parallels between a healthy non-profit and a healthy person.]

Non-Profits & People. Both start with a mission statement – what is our purpose in this world? What do we want to give? Who will we affect? How will we change? Our mission statements are grand and occasionally disillusioned, but weighted down by programs – tangible steps we take to achieve our goals. These programs range from attending college, to pursuing internships, to skiing fresh powder, to falling in love, to developing a career, to raising a family, to traveling. In implementing our programs, we make mistakes. We mismanage funds. We sever important connections. We try to fit ourselves into boxes that will never hold our shape. However, we also give ourselves time to evaluate  –  we attend church service, or create art, or raft rivers, or go on long walks in the deep February cold.

Friends and family, our personal Board of Directors, support and guide us. They don’t bother themselves with the nit-picky details of our lives, but instead look at the big picture. They understand that life’s circumstances require malleability, and they help us rework our mission statement when we have grown in a new direction. They fundraise for us and they give us their precious time. They form “Honor Success”, “Find a Boyfriend”, “Cook Dinner” and “Pick You Up Off the Ground” committees. They help advocate and lobby for us in the greater world-at-large. We give them proper and not-so-proper thank you notes.

On occasion, we lobby and advocate for ourselves. We fight for careers, we fight for relationships, we fight to save the people and places we love. We try to do so while remaining respectful and kind to those around us. We try to keep our egos or selfish instincts obstructing other’s missions. We recognize that there is great strength in collaborating and connecting with others. We realize that every mission is different, but each interacts to create the world around us.

Most of all, we recognize our capacity. Sometimes our capacity is large and diverse, noticed and celebrated. Sometimes our capacity is small and uniform, quiet and straight-forward. We fluctuate. Much like a non-profit, we look better on paper and it is always easier said than done. We forgive ourselves, take accountability, and move forward.