Group 5 and Closing Thoughts

The last day of class was this week, and this will most likely be the final blogpost of the year on this site. It’s a little bittersweet, because I have enjoyed this dialogue with you all, but if people ever want to hear more from me, they can always check out my other site, spotofwhimsy.wordpress.com (which I update occasionally).

The conversation in class brought up some fresh thoughts. As we discussed systems for supporting single moms, I thought it was interesting that many of our suggestions related to support through employment. We suggested giving employees a living wage, flexible work hours, paid time off for minimum wage jobs. Support in many ways hinged on good employment and benefits associated with it. It is such a break through when a single parent is able to find a good job that supports themselves and their family. And with some single moms taking on most or full responsibility for parenting, that can be a huge relief. However, doing minimum, or next to minimum, wage work when also caring for multiple children without the support of a spouse is at the very least exhausting, giving families no margin. The amount of stress that moms go through takes a toll on their health, and often these jobs do not have health insurance coverage. Does a woman have a choice to find something better? Is life just hard, hard for most and even harder for some? I know families who push through each day, and find little ways to appreciate the moment even when things are tough. But wouldn’t it also be great if they had the kind of support they needed to receive such things as affordable healthcare, work flexibility, paid time off, to properly care for their loved ones, as well as themselves?

A line from this TV show I was watching recently stuck out to me: “Better doesn’t mean better for everyone. Better always means worse for some.” What is the better that we’re seeking, who benefits, and who loses out? What does it mean to lose? What is gain?

I wonder if part of the hurdle is our overly individualistic society. Many of the systems proposed in our group for single moms related to employment and policy change for better access to federal support because these structures allow us to be self-sufficient and self-reliant. That’s not a bad thing, but what if there were ways to catalyze on our weaknesses to strengthen community bonds? To create interdependence and not just independence? What are the barriers to interdependence? What if we got really good at creating networks where people mutually cared for each other, and helped each other as needed? What would it take to build trust between people, negate shame and pain of rejection, for people to never betray each other or break each others’ hearts and persons? Being part of whole systems’ change is real and necessary, but what are the small ways that we enact change in our daily lives? I’m continually asking myself those questions, of the ways that we interact with the people and environment around us in all our ups and downs, and how that influences our world.

Brokenness of relationship structures is the root of so many problems in my mind. Systemic racism, oppression of people with all kinds of intersecting positionalities, the cultural gaps between socioeconomic status. As a Christian, the gospel to me is all about restoring relationships and breaking off chains of oppression, but people wield scripture in many different ways. I defer to the Holy Spirit (like checking in with your conscience) to bring everything into alignment. But that’s a whole other conversation.

Social workers (whether we intend to define ourselves as such after graduation or not) dive into the gap between available assistance and need. Some of how we define our work comes out of our capitalist, individualistic society that stretch back into our history rooted in Western thought and values. In many ways we have the values and thoughts to create systems that are more communal while also providing quality services with accessibility to many people. As affiliates of the University of Michigan, we also have campus resources that can be disseminated into many different spheres. Social workers weave together systems, brokenness, disintegration by striving to value the dignity and worth of all people, even those who we may disagree with. We see through the lenses of intersectional frameworks and looking at the whole person- we don’t just connect people to services but through service and communication in our professional spheres, help care for the whole selves.

These are an amalgamation of thoughts, so I apologize if its a little incoherent. It may be impossible to wrap this up with a pretty bow, but in summation, we each have the power to make the world a better place, from the micro to the macro. Who knows the trial each person faces, but we think in ways that can diminish some of that suffering across systems. I’m not sure where each of us will be in ten, twenty, fifty years, but I hope that when we look back, we will be proud of the work we’ve done and what we fought for. And most importantly, who and how we loved. That makes all the difference.

 

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A Field Trip and Thoughts/Excerpts from the Final Project

Last Monday, a group of students I work with, my field supervisor and I went on a field trip around significant places in Detroit. The tour was hosted by a community activist from the Boggs Center who has been re-envisioning a better Detroit for over thirty years. As young leaders at the school, and as part of this group at the school called the Welcome Committee, the students are the vision for a better future. The mission of the Boggs School is to “nurture creative, critical thinkers who contribute to the well-being of their communities.” I hope that these young people are receiving new messaging of who they are and the value they have to create a better world. Working with them has been a growing process for myself as well, and is a major part of my reflections throughout the final project.

My final project is actually something that I’ve wanted to do at my field placement, but am still trying to figure out why I want to do it, and if I have the capacity to do it. With the time that I have left in field alongside the work that I’m already doing, it may not be something that I can commit my time to. With the semester coming to an end soon, I’ll be increasing the number of days that I’m in field, even if the number of weeks in the semester diminishes. In the next few months I’ll be compiling the work that I’ve been doing and pass on my reflections to the next intern or interns. The focus is meant to be on the process of “Entering, Engaging & Exiting” communities well, but this project has been more reflective in nature. I talk a lot about myself and my role at the school, and how that intersects with the work that the school is doing. If I were to have a complete do-over, I would have approached this final project differently, maybe not even focus on my work at the school but on other communities that I’m passionate about, and perhaps completed interviews in those arenas instead. But delving into the “Why” of this project is an important part of the work that we do too, as social workers and social justice workers. I hoped I honored that process to the best of my ability.

What is your understanding of how community and social systems can play a role in improving the well-being of individuals, families, organizations, and communities and in promoting greater social justice in your area of interest?

I begin my project with “the importance of narrative,” a major theme of my thought process and this course. The role of the Boggs School is in shaping a new narrative, which is part of “improving the well-being of individuals, families, organizations, and communities and in promoting greater social justice” in Detroit. The school is a unique community that one student has lovingly referred to it as a glorified one-room schoolhouse. While that may seem like a derogatory statement, the student makes the point that in this school, everybody knows everybody. Because of the community’s small size, with many students growing with each other over the past five years, everyone is educated together, regardless of the grade level they are a part of. I’ve learned so much from being a part of this school about the complexities of engaging with community and the multiple systems of support that hold community life together. When each person does their part to the best of their ability in contributing to the overall system, students are better served. But not only is each person doing their part, they are also moving forward with this shared vision of “nurturing” students to think critically of their sense of place and help find creative solutions for their communities. 

How does gender, racial, religious, economic, or other diverse characteristics of a community affect the needs and assets to be mobilized in your area of interest?

In an interview with Jasmine, a therapist and original “pioneer teacher” who helps students with their socio-emotional learning, she identified three primary family groups that compose the school. One group can generally be defined as the students from the surrounding neighborhoods. These families are sometimes referred to as “pioneer families”, many of whom first joined the school when it opened in 2013. They can often have the deepest investment to the well-being of the school because of their historical and geographical tie to the community, but may not be able to commit as much time or financial resources as other families. Another group of students come from predominantly African American families who have been deeply involved in Afrocentric education and African American social justice. Many of the parents of these students have higher economic security than many of the pioneer families, and may be activists and/or artists, often with affiliations to the Boggs Center, which is only a little over five minutes away from the school. Some of these families may even commute from suburbs around Detroit because of their belief in the school’s mission. A third group of students come from families are also involved in social justice, or food justice, who are predominantly white with higher economic security. This population at the school is growing because of how the city is changing, partly through gentrification. Many of these families are drawn to Grace Lee Boggs’ legacy and philosophy that has had a wide influence in the city.

The three groups described are loose characterizations of the different demographics of students and families represented at the school. Because of the social justice-minded nature of the school, much of the classroom learning is place-based education that ties lessons with the community’s history and present issues, exploring history from different perspectives than what is traditionally taught in the classroom, bringing in people to talk about food justice and serve students meals. However, special attention is also given to students from the surrounding community, who have often experienced trauma related to losing family members to gun violence or even encounters with the police. Because of the size of the school, more relational interactions are possible to help students work through their trauma and difficult issues. The school has people on staff who work one-on-one with students such as a behavioral interventionist, a special education coordinator and a social worker. Restorative Practice is also being incorporated into the curriculum as an alternative to more punitive measures such as detention or suspension. Everyone is on board with the highly relational, social justice-focused model of the school, with the vision of a radical way of doing education. They live by the statement made by Grace Lee Boggs “We are the leaders we’ve been looking for.”

What are important skills for engaging community systems and encouraging the participation of community members with attention to their diversity and for reducing barriers to that participation in your area of interest?

Much of the work that my field supervisor and the school staff do is in the form of listening with compassion, building rapport, and just getting stuff done. In community organizing, these are crucial ingredients to addressing diverse groups, as well as reducing some of the barriers to participation. I have seen how my field supervisor works very patiently with parents and maintains composure even in the midst of confusion. People trust her, not only for her kindness and inclusivity, but because she follows through on what she says that she is going to do. And she’s not afraid to be assertive. Although she is the principal, she fits many of the descriptors of a community organizer, identifying culturally and racially with many of the stakeholders at the school, a familiarity with the language of the area and being a native Detroiter, her leadership style and how she empowers others, to name a few (Rivera & Erlich, 1998).

Of course, she doesn’t do the work alone. The other core staff also add to the diversity that matches the populations that engage with the school. Engaging all the stakeholders at the school can be challenging, especially for pioneer families (the first families who were recruited to attend the school at its inception) that are less resourced, but I’ve seen how the school respects the diversity of its population even in how events are conducted. During the annual auction that happened quite recently, sponsored tickets allowed for more families to participate who might otherwise not be able to afford to go, and there was a relatively wide range of auction items that appealed to not only native Detroiters, but also the more “hipster” transplants and others. There were items for singles and families, as well as items that reflected the entrepreneurial spirit of the Boggs network.

How do social work ethics and values guide practice with community and social systems in your area of interest? What did you personal learn from this assignment?

Everyone at the Boggs School is a social justice worker. Within the school, one of the roles of a social justice worker has been operating not only at the micro level through one-on-one and family interactions with students and/or parents at the school or at the mezzo level facilitating groups, but also engaging as an intermediary between the micro, mezzo and macro levels. Taking school policy seriously is one of the major ways to create durable change, both positively and negatively. Engaging school policy as a social justice worker expresses each of the values and principles outlined in the NASW Code of Ethics (NASW, 2017). For example, it honors the dignity and worth of all persons to advocate for gender-inclusive bathrooms, something that the Boggs School takes seriously. It also calls on social justice workers to emphasize the importance of human relationships across levels, not just through mobilizing support on the micro level.

As a social justice worker, there are many opportunities to demonstrate the values and principles of the NASW Code of Ethics within schools. This is especially important in Detroit, in which activists and community members have advocated for better quality schools for African American students (Mirel, 1999). The school is part of a movement to re-imagine Detroit, and strives to unite a diverse group of people into that vision.

What is your assessment of your ability to engage in practice within your area of interest?

Within praxis, between action and critical reflection, reflection can often be easier for me than action. Reflective supervision with my field supervisor has been helpful to her and the school, but in terms of creating deliverables, I feel like I have a long way to go. Trying to act on this community interview project has been something like stumbling through a fog for me, an incredibly frustrating position to be in when also trying to meet deadline. It has certainly been a learning experience, and an incredibly humbling process. Learning to have compassion for myself, to take time to care for personal needs and be okay with the messiness of confronting limitations and developing new skills, has been more of the journey here than anything that I could give to the school and its community. But as an intern at the school for a brief amount of time, that is the expectation, and if I don’t exceed it at the present moment, it’s not going to be the end of the world, or the end of the school. Ultimately, I am one person and in communities and social systems, it’s really not all on me to succeed. Each member plays their part, and that really, truly, can be enough.

School-to-Prison Pipeline (Group 6 discussion)

Throughout the coursework and interactions with other students, I have grown in my awareness of schools and school policy that shape the conversation on race in the United States. It was meaningful to have a very practical, closer look at the codes of conduct for schools in the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti area. It gave me a deeper sense of the community, especially Ypsilanti. I have a lot of affection for both cities, and have always felt that way since moving here. I had some understanding of Ypsi’s history and relationship with Ann Arbor and Detroit, but had never considered the schools in the area and how they support the community (mostly because I don’t have school aged kids). Sometimes it can be challenging hearing about all the need within schools, especially knowing the working conditions of many teachers and how they have to navigate the system. The work can be very demanding, and when you are in a large public school, making time for relational conversation with students can be exhausting. Putting on additional demands can seem like asking a lot (these feelings have a lot to do with hearing about the pains of a first year teacher). Change needs to happen at all levels, from administration and structures, to teachers and student networks. A presentation in another class about “White Supremacy in Schools” felt particularly interconnected with the school-to-prison pipeline. Who defines “insubordinate” behavior, and what does respect and disrespect look like? What are the cultural elements at play that impact human relationships and interactions with authority? Where do we begin?

When I think about the scale of change that needs to happen in the US, I get overwhelmed. I have to step back and remember that I only have the power in my one person to do so much. We need to partner, to reach out, to seek areas and opportunities, find an area or areas of focus and do those things to the best of our ability. This has been a theme in Communities and Social Systems. Fostering healthy, thriving interdependence takes hard work but, truthfully, it reaps an abundant reward.

Who are the people committed to that and what do these communities look like? We don’t want to create new unjust systems after upending old ones, and I honestly don’t believe humanity has the ability to create systems that are fully sustainable, non-oppressive, fair, equitable and last forever. Because eventually, we’re going to screw up, or the power gets to our heads, or we get greedy and step on other people to get ahead. If we never acted from our own self-interest, always looked to other people’s interests before our own, were never vain or envious, were quick to forgive, were always perfectly loving, patient, kind, we could sustain the “perfect” system. But is this who we are? Because we’re not perfect (all the time), we have systems of accountability, of “checks and balances”, to keep us moving forward in ways that help each other. And as I said earlier, I think we were meant to do our best and live life to the fullest. I also believe there’s grace, mercy and compassion even when we do screw up.

In the statement made by the National Education Association, punitive practices in schools disproportionately impact students of color, including at the intersection of LGBTQ+ identities, disability, and for English Language Learners. Changing disciplinary policies such as incorporating Restorative Practices has the potential to shift the narrative and promote healthier relationships, especially in the midst of our differences. It’s not a perfect system, and as the document states, is meant to ameliorate current systems such as responsive classroom practices/social emotional learning and Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS). I see all three of these systems at the Boggs School, and also know that sometimes more punitive measures are necessary, such as in-school suspensions. But when these measures are taken when the student is continuously affirmed that they are valued and cared for, discipline is wholesome. Restorative practice is discipline, not just a squishy conversation that lets the wrongdoing slide, but actually positions a student or students to confront the harm or action they’ve caused and own the impact of it. That’s character growth, and strengthens communities.

But returning to structures, we need to shift how we do school so that students are also getting the social and emotional learning that they need to thrive, alongside the academic. In crowded public schools with poor administration, pain is going to continue to perpetuate unless people go to those places and act. Policy change is important, and is incredibly powerful when partnered with strong leadership on the ground. As students of social work (and social justice work), we have a wealth of knowledge, skills and perspective that build community through our commitment to inclusive society. We just have to keep going, day by day.

 

 

Food for Thought (Group 4 Facilitation)

I want to start by giving some shine to my group mates who made this project a whole lot of fun. Shay kept us on task, Jonathan kept it light, and Mikala brought the spirit. And we got it done. Additionally, the facilitation went well through the input from classmates, whose insights into food insecurity provided depth and greater visibility. My hope was to keep it simple, and I believe we achieved that.

One thing that would have made it more simple was to give more time for processing the poverty simulation. We underestimated the time it would take for people not only to complete the simulation but to emotionally process the experience. Also, the last slide where I talked about some key factors related to food insecurity may not have been necessary. The information was based on a policy brief of Detroit, as well as an illustration of food deserts in the U.S., but between the simulation and the initial discussion spurred on by the readings, it didn’t add as much knowledge as engaged in more discussion. Jenna’s point of highlighting food insecurity in Washtenaw County stuck with me. It may have been good to mine more information from Food Gatherers’ website. But fortunately we had Jenna herself to advocate for her field placement.

In our overall facilitation, I think we aimed for a lightness in our tone and style, while also giving people space to reflect more deeply on the issue. Because we used the poverty sim as our way to engage food insecurity, the focus did shift to issues of poverty. It would have been good to follow up with more resources for actively combatting food insecurity, such as addressing food insecurity on college campuses or identifying local pantries and hours of operation. Heather also mentioned malnutrition and how that is being addressed. It was another area that we did not encompass in our facilitation. The poverty simulation limited our scope in that way.

Even though the poverty simulation had its limitations, such as not incorporating more context at the beginning, as well as minimizing other factors that intersect with poverty like race, gender and sexual orientation, it did highlight a strength of students at the social work school- we are trained to look at situations with a critical intersectional lens. We also represent a diversity of people, some struck more deeply by the poverty simulation than others, especially for people that have experienced many of the scenarios that were emphasized. I loved seeing the compassion and good-heartedness in which people participated in the simulation in my group. It wasn’t simply about “winning the game” for people and making it through the end of the month. People considered how their decisions would impact the people they were with, particularly their children, and their relationships with coworkers and neighbors. It was such a testament to the quality of the people in the room. I felt proud to be a student of social work with them.

As with all the previous facilitations and discussions, my heart is stirred. There is so much work to be done, but at the end of the day, it’s not simply about the work that we do, or the things that we learn, but about the relationships that we’re building along the way. And that’s my food for thought.

On Criminal Justice (Group 3 Facilitation)

My competitive nature comes out during trivia-like games, regardless of my ability to win. I was a little surprised at my lack of knowledge on the criminal justice system in the United States, especially when I had just been looking at stats from an assignment in another class. But I shouldn’t have been. There’s so much that I don’t know, and am curious how those things will grow in relevance to me. It’s humbling to hear Mr. Sanders’ story and of the terrible havoc incarceration wreaks on individuals and communities, especially communities of color. The lives of people in prisons matter, and we don’t get a Get-Out-of-Jail-Free card as a society for the consequences of this system we created.

Even though the clip from the documentary cut down on discussion time, I did appreciate the reminder of the documentary Thirteenth. I watched the documentary sometime ago with my fiancé, and I remember being greatly grieved. I hate the racial divisions in our nation, and I hate how people have been destroyed by hate and dehumanization. As I reflect on my desire to do something, I’m reminded of what I have to focus on even in just today, and am not surprised that I haven’t done more to act. Sometimes I need to stop thinking and just act, and have come to realize that that is a major growing area for me. One way that I would be interested in taking an action step is volunteering with local inmates. I have a couple of connections with people who work directly with the justice-involved who could help me take those next steps. Another step is to take time to read more about the prison industrial complex, who it impacts, and what are viable means to diminish the harm of the institution, if not totally abolish it. I have a long list of book recommendations from many people, including the book by Angela Davis that Lawrielle recommended.

One area that was also brought to the forefront of my attention was Restorative Practice. My field placement is working to incorporate Restorative Practice into its curriculum, and have applied some of its principles throughout the school year. It’s still in the early phases of implementation, and unfortunately circles have been regarded by some students as largely punitive in nature. However, I think that as circles become more embedded at the school, more students will catch the vision for them. I believe healing circles were particularly effective in one instance at the school. There have been a few thefts at the school, and it was understood among the staff that the incidents were largely occurring in one class. One theft was particularly damaging. A flash drive of one of the teachers was stolen that had many many years of hard work saved on it, and her backup file was corrupted. She thought that all of her work was lost. A healing circle was initiated, and it was recommended that the flash drive be returned in a jar near the office, no questions asked. Whether directly or indirectly related, the flash drive was returned, renewing the teacher’s faith in students at the school. Positive relationships between students and adults at the school are deeply valued, and to foster healing in the midst of wrongdoing, especially when someone or someones are causing harm, underscores the school’s commitment to be different from the traditional education system in the U.S.

In this conversation around the criminal justice system are ideas of belonging and safety. I would be interested to understand more of how incarceration originated, the thought process behind it, and how the system is utilized. I am hesitant to abolish incarceration completely as a means to de-incentivize violent crime and wrongdoing, but reducing the number of people of color behind bars would be a huge milestone in our nation.

 

On Gentrification (Group 2 Facilitation)

Despite the quick spurt of snow, it’s a lovely Wednesday morning in Ann Arbor, MI. Admittedly, I’m taking this morning to catch back up on my blogposts, which I unfortunately have neglected for the past couple of weeks. The two groups that I missed commenting on, facilitating discussions on gentrification and the criminal justice system respectively, did a fantastic job and I wish I had taken the time to write a post when my memory was fresh. I’ll begin with the discussion on gentrification and some thoughts, and pick back up on the criminal justice system in my next post.

I appreciated the exercise with the three post-it papers. If I were to sit down and do that exercise myself, with full honesty, I suppose I would have had a lot more to say on the issue. But I certainly was feeling a bit shy. While I have an understanding of gentrification through school and history, my experience with people who have been displaced or negatively impacted is limited. I have a greater understanding of how I benefit from gentrification, or what is often labeled as such, like the addition of Cultivate in Ypsilanti’s Depot Town. I see more of the positives of the establishment than what some might view in a more negative light.

Reading stories of people being displaced by ruthless landlords makes me angry and frustrated by people who take advantage of others for their own gain. The flip side is seeing the way some neighborhoods can benefit from development, especially when it is done thoughtfully. Intentional harm versus intentional gain. Because of my biases, the perspectives that I come from, and the values that are part of who I am, I must be so intentional to listen and seek out, to go beyond the spheres that limit my understanding. I, and hope that all of us, are growing in compassion, to put love in action even if we are misunderstood.

Reading the articles that the group had given us ahead of time to read, I was most intrigued by the article on University of Michigan addressing the low percentage of students who are from low income households. It is encouraging to hear how Michigan is addressing the gap in creative ways, such as a gimmicky but effective letter to students that come from households making $60,000 or less. Some of my students at my field placement are on the Wolverine Pathways track, and are clearly very excited about the opportunity. It also reduces the stigma that UM is this upper-crust town that isn’t approachable. I’ve observed how people who live in suburbs around Ann Arbor feel that tension of fitting in, that Ann Arbor is unwelcoming to them. The quote included in the article from one of the previous presidents of the university stood out to me: “Have an aristocracy of birth if you will or of riches if you wish, but give our plain boys from the log cabins a chance to develop their minds with the best learning and we fear nothing from your aristocracy,” James Angell said in 1879, “In the fierce competitions of life something besides blue blood or inherited wealth is needed to compete with the brains and character from the cabins.”

The questions do not simply fall along socioeconomic lines, however, but also on race. I have spoken in this class and other classes about how people are dehumanized, and that mentality results in many evils. We must continually check our own hearts and minds to see that we express value for our neighbor, even complete strangers. It’s a journey that I will always be on for as long as I live.

Ethics in Fundraising

In one of my classes this semester, we’re currently learning about the ins and outs of fundraising and the different situations that can lead to ethical dilemmas. For organizations that are mission-driven, and especially for social workers, it is very important to consider the implications of taking money from certain funding sources. If an organization would like to create a new gym for a community center, but the corporation that would like to fund it is also changing the neighborhood with employees moving in, it may be good to find out from the community about how they would feel about seeing that corporation’s logo on the gym floor before accepting the money. Our conversation during the presentation touched on this consideration among other things regarding ethical decisions in fundraising.

A few thoughts that stuck out following the discussion were the fact that fundraising is all about relationships, that we must learn to assume good intent, and tune into your gut. If it makes you sick to take money from certain funding sources because they do not align with your organization’s mission, that may be a strong indication that taking that money be a bad idea, or more work needs to be done before assuming those resources. It’s particularly challenging knowing that your organization needs funds to keep doing the work that they do, and the idea of not accepting money on ethical grounds seems detrimental to continuing that meaningful work.

As we were discussing one particular case, I was reminded of a story from a classmate. This classmate described how in a rural community, an organization fighting hunger in the area accepted financial support from the Ku Klux Klan. Despite the moral repugnancy of such an organization, partnering with the KKK helped the organization meet their objective, especially considering the lack of resources in the community. Perhaps I’m not covering this story accurately from the actual circumstance, but it has always stuck out to me as a compelling case of means and ends. We had discussed Alinsky’s piece in class, and it applies to this conversation on ethics, too. When you’re doing the work, things may appear to get morally messy, but to what end?

It is good, though, to be sensitive to your conscience, especially in the work that we set out to do. Some people would admit that they’ve become thick-skinned, hardened by battle and the world. As social workers, there’s probably a sense of having to have a hard outer shell when we confront traumatic situations regularly. But even if we have a hard shell outside, I would caution against having a hard heart on the inside, too. Perhaps that’s what people would recognize as burn out, where we’ve become numb to the pain and suffering around us, and we can no longer truly respond with compassion.

It’s a balance between getting the job done, being clear-minded and resolute, but also taking time to converse and reflect, to check in to where our heart is at and if we’ve gotten too callous in the line of duty. That’s another reason why having principles is important, because we can have something to come back to, to see if we are truly hitting the mark.

Fundraising, ultimately, is a vital part of a non-profit organization and meeting the needs that we set out to address. Without funds coming in, from donors of all kinds, the engine that keeps the organization running will clunk and expire. It’s like trying to run a car with no fuel. You’ve got all the parts, but you’re not going anywhere. Fortunately, not everyone who works for a non-profit has to necessarily be involved in fundraising. Even so, it’s important to understand the value of it to your organization, and perhaps for many people, that understanding will help it seem less sordid, and actually really good.