This summer, the SVG team had the pleasure and privilege of receiving trainings from Holli Mallak. Holli is a recent Shanghai transplant with a Masters degree in Nonprofit Organizations from Case Western Reserve University and over 17 years of experience working in the nonprofit sector. Through her work of connecting nonprofit organizations with the knowledge and resources they need to best support their communities, she has developed and implemented several initiatives including a youth philanthropy program, community art show, leadership development program for women and a scholarship program for adults returning to school. She has managed grants as large as 5million USD and as small at 5USD.
The team greatly benefited from seeing nonprofit organizations through the eyes of community foundations. Since we found Holli’s vast knowledge and experience so insightful, we asked her to write a series of blog posts geared at helping those working in the social sector here in China. Often times, nonprofit organizations have little time to step back and look at the bigger picture so we believe Holli’s direct approach to highlighting fundamental but key points will be helpful to grassroots organizations here in China.
Your organization started with a purpose. It focused on making a difference. The difference can be as large as changing worldwide environmental policy or as small as a cleanup in your neighborhood.
That initial purpose is important. It is your reason for being. It is your guiding principal. It is the physical manifestation of the organization.
Stay true to this purpose.
It brings you clarity on the work that you do. It keeps you focused on the issue that inspired the creation of the organization. This focus on purpose allows you to grow and innovate and excel within a specific area. It brings volunteers and donors to your cause.
For example, the organization Bike Guangzhou started because there was a group of like-minded people in Guangzhou who came together because of their joy for urban cycling as well as a frustration of the non-bike friendly infrastructure of the city. Members strongly believed that cycling was a sustainable way of protecting the environment. The group thought a simple way of encouraging a larger number of cyclists would be to increase the number of bike stands near metro stations. More people would cycle and use public transportation instead of driving and taking taxis. The organization held an online survey for this campaign idea. If over 10,000 people voted in favor of installing these bike stands, the organization would give the mayor of Guangzhou a bicycle and advocate for the installation of the stands. Over 30,000 people voted in favor of the campaign. Bike Guangzhou gave the mayor a bicycle and the mayor pushed to install these bike stands around the city. This was the first in a series of changes in urban planning to make the city more bike-friendly.
Bike Guangzhou was born because of their strong sense of purpose, which led to greater change that affected not just their members but also the entire city of Guangzhou.
Stay true to your purpose.