My first job in the nonprofit sector was with a large, national charity. On the first day, I was being trained by the person whose job I was hired to fill. I asked about a magnet I saw which had another charity’s contact information.
“Oh,” she replied, “we get a lot of calls from people in the community we serve asking for support groups, which we don’t offer. So, I refer them there.”
“They provide support groups; I didn’t know that.” I said.
“I don’t actually know if they do, but the person in this role before me told me that’s what she did, so I did as well.”
“Well!” I thought to myself. “How irresponsible! Couldn’t you at least call and find out? That is one of the first things I will do.”
I was in that role for about a year when I moved on to another role within that charity and in that whole time, I never called to find out either. The role was so demanding and the requests from the community for services we didn’t provide were endless.
That moment stuck with me.
Years later after many conversations about the nonprofit sector, it became clear to me that the sector was bursting with incredible organizations doing incredible work, by incredible people. So why are there still so many people still in need?
Because all of these incredible people are wildly under funded, under staffed, and under resourced.
Services in Action was established to provide support to nonprofit professionals so that earlier me could have sent a quick, direct message saying “where can I refer people who need a support group?” And a fulsome answer would have been provided.
Someone early on said to me “But isn’t that what Google does, or 211?” And yes, they do. But wading through all of the information, reading through each organization’s website, calling to verify, that stuff takes time -precious time that nonprofit professionals just don’t have.
One of the first people Services in Action supported worked at a small organization in Toronto. She said they received donations from a local bakery frequently, but couldn’t eat all of the baked goods and didn’t know what to do with the leftovers. I had just spoken with someone at a shelter near by, and voila, they food was shared with the shelter.
While Services in Action has evolved in a number of different ways over the past 10 years, we still do answer these questions. And, as always, for free.