August 10, 2011

We’re not crazy, we’re just a non-profit.

I won’t lie, it’s not uncommon for us to get told that we should scale down our plans, or that we may be getting in over our heads. LCCT has been dealing with that feedback for years, and dealing with it very successfully.

Today, we met with another small organization doing very big things for the Austin community. The meeting reminded me of how small organizations can have such a large impact, and it never ceases to amaze me how these groups are making the most of their resources. The literacy programs in our network also do this every day, and it’s their support and dedication that in turn makes our influence on the community possible.

It’s difficult for some organizations and companies to understand the dynamics of the small nonprofit world. It’s understandable that we find ourselves up against doubts about our capacity, and our ability to reach a large audience from those outside of the non-profit world. In a non-profit, you have to be creative and open enough to transform limited resources into valuable services. Unfortunately, good intentions don’t always make successful organizations, and several end up closing their doors soon after they’re opened.

I’m proud to be part of a successful, 9-person organization that does the work of a mid-sized company. From my time at the Literacy Coalition, I’ve learned that the mutual respect and dedication built among a small group of hard working individuals can make for a surprisingly efficient non-profit machine. At LCCT, we’re open to changes that will allow us to make a greater impact on the community. We’re supportive of each other. We base our decisions on the people we serve. We believe in a solid work-life balance. We’ve built the trust of local non-profits and for-profits alike, and as a result have a network that helps us reach a variety of audiences. These are the things that have allowed LCCT to grow its services exponentially over the last three years, and we have no reason to slow down.

Less can most definitely be more. If you don’t believe me, take another look our previous blog posts, our Facebook page, and our website. Now that you know a little more about our inner workings, you’ll see all of those projects we’re working on in a whole new light.

Now I want to hear from other organizations in our shoes. What obstacles have you overcome as a small organization playing with the big shots? What are you proud of? What advice do you have for other small organizations?

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