Strengthening the Nonprofit Sector Through “Enlightened Self-Interest”

Strengthening the Nonprofit Sector Through “Enlightened Self-Interest”


On August 5th at the YNPN National Activate! Summit in Portland, OR, nonprofit professionals from across the country came together to address the needs of the nonprofit sector and discuss how we all can better support the next generation of leaders who are dedicated to social good. (Read more about the conference here.) During his keynote speech, Vu Le, Executive Director of Rainier Valley Corps and the brains behind Nonprofit with Balls, reinforced the need for collaboration and cooperation, and shared points on how to leverage “enlightened self-interest” for the betterment of the nonprofit sector.

Check them out below!

  • Own your awesomeness. Get out of the niceness and push back sometimes. Own your influence and power.

  • Stop feeling inferior to for-profit organizations and businesses. Keep in mind the social and economic impact of your work and the fact that it is intrinsic to a healthy and sustainable society.

  • Demand equal partnership with funders and donors; it should be a symbiotic relationship, not a one-way street.

  • End The Hunger Games. Talk to other people in the sector and be generous with each other. Introduce your donors to other organizations, they will usually give to both.

  • Collaborate across sectors. Actively seek out and form partnerships with groups outside of the nonprofit sector.

  • Invest in our people. Get out of the “scrappy survivor mindset” because you cannot fight inequity while perpetuating it. This includes paying nonprofit professionals more as well as believing that you deserve higher pay.

  • Move beyond good intentions. Follow your words with actions and be mindful in enacting change in your day-to-day.

  • Reexamine hiring and other operational practices. For example, reconsider that candidate who may have been ruled out because they didn’t hold a degree but otherwise was a perfect fit for the role and your organization. Inequity in access to higher education exists, and a degree does not automatically translate to a qualified candidate.

  • End the othering. Remember that no matter the specific cause for which you advocate, we all are working toward a common goal of a more just and equitable world.