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5 Motivational Quotes from Nonprofit Leaders (and How to Apply Them)

5 Motivational Quotes from Nonprofit Leaders (and How to Apply Them)


Gain some inspiration with these motivational quotes from top nonprofit thought leaders and learn how you can apply them to your own organization! Most “inspirational” quotes sound nice, but often lack substance or educational value. We’ll break each of them down to provide tactical takeaways for you and your nonprofit.


1. “A few people of integrity can go a long way.”


-Bill Kauth, founder of the Mankind Project, a “global brotherhood of nonprofit charitable organizations that conducts challenging and highly rewarding programs for men at every stage of life.”


Struggling to find a large band of supporters? Well, think about this: would you rather have 500 acquaintances whom you hardly know, or a group five incredibly close friends you can confide in? Most would choose the latter, and the same standard applies for nonprofit stakeholders. While it’s important to reach a wide audience, a small band of extremely loyal supporters can be just as great. Strive to strike that balance between those one-time $10 donors and your core group of stakeholders who truly believe in your mission. It only takes a few passionate people to make a difference.


2. “Don’t tell us all the reasons this might not work. Tell us all the ways it could work.”

John Wood, Founder of Room to Read, a nonprofit promoting literacy in children.


So, you’re starting a nonprofit and can’t help but think of all the ways everything could go wrong. While you’re taking a pretty big risk, it’s important to focus on the best-case scenario. Build your organization on your desire to succeed rather than your fear of failure. Yes, you’ll face some challenges, but if you keep a positive mindset, you’re more likely to overcome them. So, instead of asking yourself, “What if we can’t find any funds?” think more along the lines of, “Wow, we’ll be able to help so many people once we gather enough funds!” Make positivity your fuel!


3. “Nonprofits are not the place for egos or attention seekers if you want to see powerful and authentic change in the lives of the people that you serve.”

-Heidi Stieglitz, Founder and Director of Spectrum Fusion, a charitable organization dedicated to creating programs and communities for adults with autism.

You’re probably not in the nonprofit sector because you want to become a famous millionaire. You have a big heart and want to help people, and to you, that’s more important than money and power. However, as your organization gains more recognition, it’s always good to remind yourself why you started it in the first place. Making money and establishing your brand is important, but when that becomes more important than fulfilling your mission, problems are bound to arise. If you remember to stay humble, more people’s lives will be changed in the long run.


4. “Leadership is about finding your unique blueprint and expressing that courageously, confidently and vulnerably.”

-Jennifer Mulholland, Co-leader and Chief Strategy Officer of Plenty Consulting, an organization that helps nonprofits run campaigns and fundraisers.


If you have a fiery passion for your cause, you’ll be unstoppable. Everyone you meet will catch on to your charisma and think, “Well, there must be a reason why they care so much,” and be compelled to find out more. Be bold and take risks—people will notice. As for expressing your unique blueprint vulnerably, acknowledge that you’re not invincible. You’ll face some obstacles, and it will take time and persistence to become well-established. But that courage and confidence will drive you forward and help you meet your goals, so stick with it.


5. “It’s not just about being able to write a check. It’s being able to touch somebody’s life.”

Oprah Winfrey. You know, Oprah Winfrey.


While fundraising is probably your main goal, make sure you’re spending a considerable amount of time trying to recruit a community that will make a physical, tangible difference in your organization. Writing a check is easy and impersonal. If you find people who want to donate their time and talents along with their money, they’ll become more passionate about your cause and, in the end, do more for you than a check ever could.