By Karin Ogden / Chief executive officer, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Indiana
Nonprofit organizations have long been a central part of communities across the country, and Indiana is no different. In Indianapolis alone, there are over 250 nonprofit organizations serving Marion County and the surrounding area. They represent a diverse range of initiatives and engage in a wide variety of activities including education, environmental advocacy, children and youth services, arts and culture, food insecurity and many more. While the mission and programming may vary by organization, each one does what they can to improve the lives of Indiana residents.
As COVID-19 reshapes the way that businesses and organizations conduct day-to-day operations, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Indiana (RMHCCIN) has pushed onwards to continue serving Indiana children and their families. With Giving Tuesday coming up today (Tuesday, Dec. 1) it’s important to recognize the impactful work nonprofits do within local communities and learn how to best support them.
How a nonprofit works: As members of the RMHCCIN staff, we’re responsible for moving the organization forward, and a big part of that task comes in the form of collaboration. Frequent meetings help us organize our thoughts, put ideas into motion, and brainstorm work for future projects. Nonprofits tend to be people-facing organizations; therefore, interacting with the individuals we serve often takes up the majority of the workday. However, those individuals are the reason we’re pushing to do the best work we can do, because ultimately, they’re the heart of the nonprofit sector.
Many nonprofits tend to have small yet mighty staff numbers, with a few key positions carrying a good amount of the work. These positions look different within each organization. For example, at RMHCCIN, two of our crucial team members are the director of operations and director of development. After plans have been drafted and ideas finalized, the director of operations and director of development come together to fund and implement the programs, ultimately helping RMHCCIN achieve our mission.
Working in the nonprofit industry certainly has its challenges. Nonprofits often have limited resources compared to for-profit businesses and finding the resources to implement promising programs can be difficult. There’s also always the challenge of finding the right solutions, instead of a quick, short-term fix. However, knowing the impact we have on people who need our help makes the time and effort spent entirely worth it.
The impact of nonprofit work: It’s rewarding to know that when you go home at night, your work has made someone’s life a little easier. You’re able to accomplish something for people in need, and that can be a feeling like no other. For example, at RMHCCIN, in 2019, we served 5,500 families. We often heard those families say they didn’t have to think about where to find their next meal because of the resources RMHCCIN is able to provide. Seeing the impact that these initiatives have keeps us constantly thinking about what more we can do.
In the Central Indiana community alone, I’ve seen amazing work in nonprofit groups coming together to make sure there is economic equality for everyone. These organizations are asking the tough questions like, “How do we help people who are being held back?” and “How can we make sure that everyone has what they need during a global pandemic?” This regular assessment of goals means nonprofits are continually evolving and adapting to better serve the community.
How to support the nonprofit industry: Nonprofits wouldn’t exist without the tremendous support and encouragement from local communities. Because nonprofits don’t bring in revenue, we depend on community members to show their support in the form of volunteering, donating, or offering other skills to the nonprofit sector. Volunteering just an hour of time or donating a small amount each month can be crucial in keeping a nonprofit’s doors open.
In recent years, there’s been a large increase in nonprofit collaboration and in community support. This Giving Tuesday, I encourage you to find a nonprofit cause that resonates with you. Take a look at their mission and values and research how many lives have been impacted because of the work that organization has been able to execute. Once you make your decision, consider donating or volunteering your time so that we can continue to support nonprofits and their causes – the backbone of many of our communities.
To participate in RMHCCIN’s Giving Tuesday initiatives, visit www.rmhccin.org.
The author, Karin Ogden, a resident of Fall Creek Place, is also past executive director of the YMCA at the Athenaeum.
PHOTO ABOVE: Ronald McDonald House sits nestled among the Indiana University hospitals along East New York Street adjacent to the IUPUI campus.