Last week I went with the rest of the DukeEngage interns to the Seattle Foundation office where we were treated to a nice array of food and good company! We met with former Seattle Mayor and current Seattle Foundation President Norman B. Rice and had a chance to learn about what the Foundation does to create a healthy community in Seattle and surrounding areas.
We’ve had the opportunity to see how different nonprofits run and the passion that people have for their missions. We sometimes struggle with the lack of focus on administrative tasks, that we as interns, are often focused on. The answer was quite simple: a nonprofit is no different from a for-profit, and it needs to operate in the same manner. From large businesses to small families, the units should spend less than they earn, and be prepared to operate under restricted circumstances. We also learned that sustainability of an organization is an important reference for donors when they’re considering where their funds should go, and for the Foundation when they’re deciding what organizations should receive grants.
After we talked about our jobs, and how nonprofits operate, we got the chance to ask Mr. Rice about his path to success and how to get involved in the community through politics. It was clear that for Mr. Rice, it’s important to be able to listen to the community and affect positive change, without being worried about getting re-elected or what this will do for your political career. That was an interesting perspective, and one that I have not heard from many people in the political world.
Since I’m in the process of writing an essay about the sustainability of Seattle Works and what I’ve learned during my time here, this information was definitely food for thought!