Take In the Vastness of the Nonprofit Universe

August 1, 2013

Have you surfed Google yet today? You’ll find this beautiful graphic.


It’s a tribute to Maria Mitchell, who was born on this day (yes, it’s August 1st already) in 1818. She was the first American woman to work as a professional astronomer.

Here’s a Maria Mitchell sound bite I love: “Do not look at stars as bright spots only. Try to take in the vastness of the universe.”

It’s easy to focus on the stars–the bright spots in our daily work and interactions, our big special events, our good numbers at the end of the fiscal year.

When the conversation turns to the big picture–our reason for being–we make the space to look outside of ourselves. The vastness of possibilities in philanthropy, art, social work, environmental conservation, animal welfare are great, and we have control over what we explore.

Here are three ways to expand your nonprofit universe:

  1. Personally.
    Networking can be a tired word. We do it like mad during season at meetings, luncheons, dinners and conferences. But it’s important to make more time for deep and meaningful connection to your colleagues.

    Are there two nonprofit or business professionals you can reach out to for a coffee date in the next month? Your time is valuable. Choose to connect with those who are positive, resourceful and who you can also help in some way.

  2. Community-wide.
    What are others doing here? Yesterday the Community Foundation of Sarasota County and SCOPE hosted a conversation to continue our work on the Campaign for Grade Level Reading. Organizations attended that are working on various components of early learning, literacy, summer reading programs, and parental engagement in learning.

    It was energizing to see what these nonprofit leaders learned from each other–what they didn’t realize others were doing right here in our own section of the Universe.

    Take a little tour through The Giving Partner and learn more about our local universe. You might be surprised!  For questions to ask yourself on this exploration, check out Pam Truitt’s post on The Patterson Foundation’s blog.

  3. Nationally/internationally.
    There are many ways to tap in to the work of other organizations working on your mission in different communities. Remember, there are 16 communities around the country using GuideStar‘s DonorEdge (their versions of The Giving Partner).

    You can check out those sites here and search for organizations that do what you do or something similar. Wouldn’t it be easy to reach out to them and connect? As you know, contact info, websites, social media links are right there on each profile.

It’s a vast Universe out there. Use your telescope!

-Susie Bowie
Community Foundation of Sarasota County


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