June 05, 2019

pov: Nonprofit Strong

I begin all presentations I do on behalf of UNA by telling the group about the wonderful work of UNA—the areas of focus that we work within and the various member agencies we serve. As I close out that introductory piece about UNA I always land on a slide of the State of Utah—the graphic is broken down into categories such as: Human Services, Religious, Environment, Animals, Children’s Services, Arts and Culture, Education, Health, and Public and Social Benefit. There are smiling faces, helping hands, cheerful animals, and majestic landscapes. Within this State of Utah graphic is the fabric of our sector and the reality that there are thousands of organizations that make Utah a great place. They are the organizations that make our communities stronger. They are the organizations that do the hard work in our community and lift up others when they need something. They are the organizations that help UNA thrive. They are all of you.   

I feel fortunate to be surrounded by people in my life—my family and friends, a supportive board, and colleagues in the sector—that know what I do and why it’s important. But I understand and respect that not everyone has that privilege. For example, I entertain many conversations with people (as I am presenting, answering emails or work calls, and even in the grocery store) that are simply not aware of the vast nonprofit network or are clueless as to what ‘nonprofit’ means. The number one question I get, which is said in the most curious way, is “How do you pay your mortgage, you work at a nonprofit don’t you?”. As a result, I decided that the best way I could be a champion for this work was to connect everyone to our sector in a way that was real to them.  

People understand the nonprofit sector when they connect that the day program they send their aging parent to is a nonprofit. It makes sense to them when they learn that the museum they visited that one summer when they went to a summer camp was drenched in nonprofit from sun up to sun down. They can see the faces of the animals they are providing a second chance to and realize a nonprofit makes that happen. They can grasp that the health insurance agency or the hospital where their loved one received care is a nonprofit with a commitment to community. In all of these ways, when I am talking about our work and its importance, I have connected each person to a nonprofit in a way that perhaps they hadn’t realized. Because at the end of the day. We make up the nonprofit sector. We guide culture, we provide stability where needed, and we give a reason to smile.  

You and I are UNA. UNA is you. UNA is in all of us. And our nonprofit sector is stronger as a result of You and I.  

Kate Rubalcava
Utah Nonprofits Association