We’ve been in the nonprofit space a long time. We’ve seen organizations forgo utilizing flashy tactics and a brand name to employ transparency, authenticity, and accountability with their constituents. We’ve collaborated with companies as they’ve transitioned from divided teams to an aligned organization. And, as the nonprofit sector has evolved, so have we.
Plenty began as an organization focused on strategy, fundraising, and leadership, but we quickly realized that an organization can not be whole and functioning unless the people working within it are whole and functioning themselves. We recognized the power in adopting a holistic approach to our work and clients, so we incorporated wellbeing into our model for success.
This evolution has continued as we have borne witness to the transformation that happens when we harness the power of community. We live in amazing times – what some visionaries have called “the great turning” from one paradigm to another. Old models of business, education, and government are being disrupted. The deficits in these systems are glaring and evident – all you have to do is turn on the news or scroll through your Facebook feed to see that we are in a time of great disruption, change, and opportunity. So what is the pathway to creating the world we envision — one in which there is plenty for everyone? We believe the potential to create the future we desire lies in the power of community.
We are experiencing this first hand in Park City, UT the home of our retreat center, HeartSpace. The population of Park City is growing exponentially, and is expected to quadruple by 2050, which means land values are higher than ever. And as part of the Rocky Mountains, the natural beauty of Park City is abundant, making it ripe for exploitation. In particular, there is a pristine piece of open space known as the Bonanza Flat, which has come up for sale due to the foreclosure of the development company that held it. Our community leaders have long sought to protect this land as it is sensitive, feeds our watershed, and would have profound environmental impacts on the heart of the town if any development were to happen there.
In the summer of 2016, our city leaders were made aware that there may be an opportunity for purchase. The elected officials took it to the community for a vote on a $25 million bond for the option to purchase the property, should we be so fortunate to have a seat at the table. Our community voted 71% in favor – an overwhelming amount of support — to tax ourselves in order to preserve Bonanza Flat. In early 2017, we learned that we were given a seat at the table, and the asking price was $38 million – we had a $13 million gap to close by March 15, 2017. Through private donations large and small, as well as contributions from Salt Lake City and Summit County, we raised $13 million in 6 weeks. In just six weeks we raised $13 million in funds to support our important cause, and simultaneously created a wonderful case study on the power of the collective.
This anecdote was not created in a vacuum however. Movements like this are happening all around the world, on behalf of many different causes. So how can you activate the power of community for your cause? Here are five key takeaways to consider.
1. Find and support a cause that you are passionate about.
In our case, this was a collective love of the environment. We believe that passion is what makes us roll up our sleeves and get to work. Reach out to the community that is working in the space you care about.
2. Focus on one thing.
The more clearly you can define your impact, the easier it will be to rally others to connect with your cause.
3. Know what your primary call to action is.
Make your call to action simple and compelling. Show your supporters how taking action connects them with the work in a direct way. Pull at the heartstrings, connect with the place of aligned and shared values.
4. Connect and collaborate with partners in the community.
Activate the hubs — nonprofits, elected officials, girl scout troops, art galleries, business networks, carpools. This is where the power of community truly lays. We don’t have to create it, but rather connect with those who are also working in the spaces we care about. People, businesses, municipalities and other nonprofits are always looking for ways in which they can bring their dreams into reality. Show them how working with you helps them to achieve their goals.. Be willing to collaborate and share. Trust that as you share your work with others, the pie expands. Seek win/win solutions.
5. Celebrate, gather, and commune together around your shared passion.
Find a way to allow your community to share and celebrate. Whether online or in person, offer a space to connect and celebrate the good work you are doing. Make friends, deepen the relationships and continue to fuel the heart of the community through shared experiences and tangible success.
We can create a sustainable world – one where there is Plenty for everyone – through the power of community.