While I believe in the power of nonprofits to change lives, I also know that our institutions are a small part of the picture. The easily measured usually serve as band aids or incubators. It’s a lot harder to measure the efforts of the advocates or catalysts for widescale change.
I’d hate to see philanthropy distracted from enabling big system societal changes. Let’s not invest excessive amounts of energy in measuring and evaluating individual nonprofits in isolation, and miss the bigger systems that need our attention.
“If you want to make peace with your enemy, you must work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.”
This picture shows Mandela with F.W. de Klerk, his lifelong enemy. De Klerk represented a ruthless and racist regime that used massacre, torture, infiltration and assassination over decades in relentless efforts to destroy Mandela and his colleagues in the South African resistance movement. Yet Mandela had the wisdom to make de Klerk his partner-adversary in creating a new South Africa. Mandela’s own release from prison in 1990 after 28 years, was just one milestone in that long and difficult partnership. Four years later, Mandela’s African National Congress won South Africa’s first non-racial election, ending apartheid and creating a peace which lasts to the present day.
We believe that ordinary human beings can create a world of opportunity, liberty, civil & human rights, human dignity, shared abundance, beauty, healthy natural resources and healthy, compassionate people together in a world of peace and prosperity.
That’s why we do the work that we do. Because we see nonprofits as essential to bringing that hope to pass.
So, on this momentous day, we thought we’d share a few words in the same spirit from our President to be and wish him great luck and all of our assistance on this journey:
“So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other. Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, it?s that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers ? in this country, we rise or fall as one nation; as one people…”
“America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves ? if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?
“…This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time ? to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth ? that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can?t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people:
“Yes We Can.”?Excerpts from victory speech of President-elect, Barack Obama
Here’s a quote for Election Day, and all the days that follow.
“Things do not change, we change.” Henry David Thoreau