Nonprofiting Ain’t Easy But It Sure Is Fun

By Jason Graven
Executive Director of Task Force 20

I have heard it a million times, and, truth be told, I have said it a million times more: “I just don’t have the time.” With a myriad of volunteer opportunities available, and each and every one pulling at you to invest more time, more effort, and more money, finding the time and energy quickly seems like a no-win mission and most times the altruistic spirit that led someone to give their time quickly flees. The issue with this scenario, however, isn’t a lack of time, but rather, a lack of passion for the mission.

Every nonprofit, I imagine, begins the same way: an individual, or group of individuals, recognizes a societal need and believe that they have a way to positively address the issue. It is not long before the group’s naivete begins to outweigh their own passion. The initial belief that “once others hear about [insert nonprofit] and the mission, we will be the charity everyone donates their time and money to because they will see how genuine our mission is!” This small group of individuals then invest their own time and money to start the organization ‘knowing’ that their investments will be repaid tenfold in volunteerism and accomplishment. Then reality sets in.

The only thing more important to a nonprofit organization than money is volunteer time. Few, if any, nonprofits can get by without volunteers. An organization can have all the money in the world and still struggle to complete their mission. The organization needs people to spread the word, needs people to identify areas in which the organization can institute their mission, and needs people to carry out the mission. The fact is, one individual cannot do it all and this is where many young, and many old, organizations begin to fail. The organization’s core participants become overworked and burnt out and even their passion for the mission will quickly begin to fade.

This is why we created the model we did. Our chapter model is reliant on “many hands making light work.” We are not a core set of individuals providing free handouts to anyone with a VA card. We are anyone who carries the title “veteran” with pride providing benefits for each other. We are veterans working together towards a common goal, each bearing a small portion of the responsibility required to help those who need it most, those who are right there with us making sure we are being taken care of as well. We are veterans with passion for the mission, the mission of providing positive avenues for veterans to help alleviate symptoms of PTSD and depression.

Why is passion so important? The level of passion determines where one places the time dedicated on the list of priorities. A nonprofit struggling to get volunteers is an organization struggling to tell its story, struggling to address the need, struggling to convince others that there is a need, or any combination of the three. If the organization is struggling to get volunteers to dedicate time, it may be because those who have received the benefits aren’t speaking about the benefits or the organization isn’t properly promoting the benefits it has given. If the organization is struggling to get volunteers to dedicate their time then it could be that the organization hasn’t properly utilized the resources and donations it has received and has been spending more money on keeping the lights on than it has in maintaining the benefits it says it provides. If the organization is struggling to get volunteers it could mean that the need it is trying to address is just not a need that society sees as a need needing to be addressed and other causes are deemed more important.

In our fast paced world where we compete with family, friends, work, and countless other things that can certainly be justifiably placed above nonprofit volunteering, you better have something that is genuine and pure, something that is effective, and something that invokes passion. Every decision with Task Force 20 is made with this in mind. This organization is veteran led and if the founders have anything to do with it, always will be, but we can’t do it alone. We need all of you, civilians and veterans alike, to get involved. We need you to know who we are. We need you to understand the mission and to reach out if you don’t. We need to know about you even more than you need to know about us because we need to know what YOU are passionate about, to know what positive avenues YOU have used to addressed YOUR issues so that we can carry those positive avenues to others. We need you to say enough is enough and “awareness” of an issue is not a means to fixing an issue, addressing the issue is. We need you to feel the passion that we felt when we started this organization, because together, we can accomplish anything and together, we just might save a life we never even knew needed to be saved.

If you would like to be a part of the Task Force 20 mission and help us provide positive avenues, primarily physical fitness related avenues, to veterans, please contact us so that we can get your chapter set up and we can begin to address the issue together.