The Backbone of an Organization

Comments at the Non-Profit Certificate Announcement

A story is told of a seven-year-old girl sitting on the steps of a large newly completed facility at a major university somewhere in America. As a man walked by, he paused for just a moment to gaze in appreciation of the beautiful building. He found himself caught up in the beauty of the architecture. This attractive edifice he thought would have a big impact on thousands of lives for many generations to come. He was suddenly surprised to hear the little girl speak to him. “Do you like this building?” She asked. “Yes, I really do. It's absolutely beautiful,” the man replied. “I am glad you like it,” the little girl responded, “because I helped build it.”

The gentleman smiled upon hearing her statement and gently said, “Now you are awfully small to have had a part in the construction of such a large building. Tell me – what you did to help build it.” With a proud smile, the little girl announced, “My father worked on this building and every day he worked, I brought him lunch.” Now, some folks would not consider that a very big contribution, but the little girl did and I suspect everyday about lunchtime, her father thought so too.

The little girl could not give large sums of money, carry heavy loads of brick or install the electric wiring in the building, but she could carry the lunch to her father. As simple as this act my seem, it's significant because it means that she saw herself as a contributing part of something important, something worthy, something special, something meaningful.

This story reminds me of all that goes into building and sustaining a nonprofit organization. In building a great organization a lot of people do a lot of things well, of which most people are not aware. Yet, their behind the scene work is a vital contribution to the larger mission of the organization.

The new nonprofit certificate program offered at Webster's school of business and technology shines the spotlight on those behind the scene individuals in non-for-profits who help fulfill the mission of the organization. These are the folks who ensure the financial viability of the organization human resource management and operations. Their contributions are nothing short of profound. They work to shape, strengthen, and build their organizations. They are the ones who come to work early and stay until the job is done.

Someone said it best, “No one is born to greatness, some just go out there day after day and lay claim to it. They do it because they have an aversion for the perpetual quest for perfection.” It's their meaningful, contributions that enable so many organizations to fulfill their mission and to grow into greatness.