This summer is my first endeavor in the non-profit space, and every day I am amazed by the continuous learning that occurs in the non-profit space. Below are a few things I observed:
Most non-profit organizations are small in scale. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy, the median number of employees of a nonprofit employer business is four. ProsperUs, the organization that I work at this summer, currently has 11 employees but is serving around 120 entrepreneurs annually. The organization is able to maximize its capacity because every team member has strong adaptability. Members often have to take on multiple tasks at the same time, and those tasks may be in areas that differed from their expertise. To complete those tasks successfully, everyone in the team has to be able to pick up new skills in a short amount of time. For example, having no background in website development, my teammate and I were assigned to investigate WordPress and Salesforce integration. We were not sure how to start at first, but, with the support of our awesome supervisor, we learned the basics of website development and were able to find several plugins that can support integration.
New Mode of operation
Members of the non-profit sector are also innovating the way they work. After COVID, more team members prefer working at home, and, to best accommodate everyone’s needs, many non-profit organizations have offered remote or hybrid working. This summer, three of our partnering organizations are working remotely while Mogo and ProsperUs offer hybrid working. Particularly, ProsperUs has adapted to various technology platforms including management software Asana and communication platform Microsoft Team to facilitate hybrid working. These tools are essential for transitioning into hybrid working as they allow quick updates and ensure everyone is on track.
Engaging with the community
Of course, learning goes beyond picking up new skills and improving workflow. It is crucial for non-profit organizations to learn and understand the community they are serving. For instance, ProsperUs provides entrepreneurship support to business owners in Detroit, Hamtramck, and Highland Park Areas. One of our tasks this summer is researching the demography and immigration trends in those areas. Particularly, we found data reporting an increasing number of immigrants from the Middle East have and will arrive in Michigan. With that information, ProsperUs will be able to adapt its curriculum to better support business owners from diverse backgrounds and meet their unique needs.