25 quotes by famous people if they had worked in nonprofit


buddha-1281049_1280Hi everyone. I’ve been stressed by the elections, so couldn’t focus on a serious post.  So here are some #awesomenonprofitquotes by famous people if they had worked in nonprofit.  Happy Monday!

I think a lot of these people missed their calling.


  1. “When they go low, we go why the heck do we keep having silent auctions?” Michelle Obama.
  1. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only bylaws with term limits can do that.” MLK Jr.

  1. “If today were the last day of your life, would you want to spend all this time trying to understand social impact bonds?” Steve Jobs
  1. “When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘Happy.’ They told me not to be an Executive Director.” John Lennon
  1. “If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough. Or you’ve never planned a gala before.” Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
  1. “I’d rather regret the things I’ve done than regret the things I haven’t d—oh crap, I forgot to file my 990!” Lucille Ball
  1. “To every action there is an equal and opposite reporting requirement.” Isaac Newton
  1. “Dance as though no one is watching you. Love as though you have never been hurt before. Run a board meeting as though all your board members actually understood your work.” Audrey Hepburn
  1. “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to provide multi-year, general operating funding.” Walt Disney
  1. “Alone we can do so little. Together, we spend a lot of time doing icebreakers.” Helen Keller
  1. “I’ve always felt that a person’s intelligence is directly reflected by the number of conflicting points of view he can entertain simultaneously at a strategic planning retreat.” Abigail Adams
  1. “Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least make your grant decisions faster so that some nonprofits can.” The Dalai Lama
  1. “There are two kinds of people: those who stack chairs at the end of an event and those who leave as soon as it’s over. Try to be in the first group; there is less competition there.” Indira Gandhi
  2. “A hug is like a boomerang—the potential liabilities from both could shut down our after-school program.” Bil Keane
  1. “It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you down. It’s the pebble of restricted funding in your shoe.” Muhammad Ali
  1. “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds hang on to ‘overhead’ as a way to determine nonprofits’ effectiveness.” Eleanor Roosevelt
  1. “We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power inside ourselves already. We just need a logic model to explain it to funders.” J. K. Rowling 
  1. “The miracle is not that we do this work, but that we can do it while sitting on really horrible chairs held together by duct tape.” Mother Teresa
  1. “Fundraising success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” Winston Churchill
  1. “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without it necessarily aligning with our strategic philanthropy.” Aristotle
  1. “We know what we are, but know not what we may be; thus, consultants.” William Shakespeare
  1. “There’s nothing sadder in this world than to awake Christmas morning and have to work to wrap up the annual appeal.” Erma Bombeck
  1. “Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in being able to explain our mission, challenges, and accomplishments in 750 characters.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
  1. “Do not dwell on the past. Do not dream of the future. Concentrate the mind on the site visit we have today and let’s tidy up the office a little.” Buddha
  1. “Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down. What’s a limo?” Oprah

Write your #awesomenonprofitquotes below in the comment section, or on Twitter. And check out “20 quotes by famous people if they had worked in nonprofit.”

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43 thoughts on “25 quotes by famous people if they had worked in nonprofit

  1. House0fTheBlueLights

    The question is not what can your country do for you, but what you can do to make payroll when the funding is delayed. JFK

  2. Sarah Lockhart

    I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each
    I do not think that we can afford to cover their travel and hotel unless we can get the Mermaid Cultural Institute to cover it. Does anyone have an in with the Mermaid Cultural Institute?
    – T.S. Eliot

  3. knobbyknees

    “Something will have gone out of us as a people if we ever let the remaining deliverables be destroyed; if we permit the last virgin program goals to be turned into dirty streams; so that never again will project managers be free in their own site visits” — Wallace Stegner

  4. Holly McGregor Anderson

    “Executive Directors have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the
    unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar. Like working weekends and attending events: Every. Single. Weeknight.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

  5. Chris Galvin

    Two paths diverged in a yellow wood..

    I chose nonprofit work. Seemed like a good idea at the time. Too late now to get on the profitable path.

  6. Isaac Shalev

    If you will it, it is likely we will still call you for the annual campaign. – Theodore Herzl

  7. Annoesjka Steinman

    How would I face Monday’s if I didn’t have Vu’s humor to start the day? Today’s post is fantastic.

  8. Devon Kearney

    “All well-functioning nonprofits are alike, every dysfunctional nonprofit is dysfunctional in its own way” — Leo Tolstoy

  9. ellenbristol

    I sing the body electric,
    The armies of those I love engirth me and I engirth them,
    They will not let me off till I go with them, respond to them,
    And discorrupt them, and give them detailed copies of the financial statement.
    Then hear them complain it was too much information.
    – Walt Whitman

  10. Procrastin8er

    “For your year end gift that has been,
    Thank you.

    For all that is to come,

    Dag Hammarskjöld

  11. Dawn Butterfield

    “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to every State and Federal funding source.” -A. de St. Exupery

  12. Kelly Baker

    “The only thing to fear is fear itself…and founder’s syndrome.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

  13. Laura Ramsey

    Real liberty is neither found in despotism or the extremes of democracy, but in large unrestricted grants. Alexander Hamilton

  14. Becca

    Change the world, they said. Work for a non-profit, they said. I’d rather be doing something with unrestricted funding. (Warcraft II)

  15. Patrick Taylor

    “A new commandment I give to you, that you collaborate with one another: just as I have collaborated with you, you are also to collaborate with one another. By this all people will know that you are in our network and working towards collective impact.”

  16. Sarah Lockhart

    We are all in the gutter, but some of us are going to get our year end fundraising letter out before Thanksgiving.
    – Oscar Wilde

  17. Diogenes

    I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by the end of a three-year grant cycle.

    Allen Ginsburg

  18. DallasRising

    If opportunity doesn’t knock, we can target it with a Change.org campaign. – Milton Berle

  19. Ruthanne Hill

    “And nobody in all of Oz, no wizard that this is or was, is ever going to … save me from logic models and grant reports.” – Wicked

  20. Ruthanne Hill

    “You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think, yet somehow you’re always still behind” – Winnie the Pooh

  21. Musket Tucker

    “The most alarming sign of the state of our organization now is that our board have the courage to sacrifice so much time of young people in our annual budget adjustments but have not the courage to make one fundraising phone call.”

    -Wendell Berry

  22. Justus Eisfeld

    ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens with itemized project budgets can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.’ – Margaret Mead

  23. Becky Caldwell

    “Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago instead of donating to the annual fund. Now we have no office space and conduct meetings in the park.” — Not Warren Buffett

  24. Becky Caldwell

    “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because you reached your fundraising goal.” — Not Dr. Seuss

  25. Becky Caldwell

    “If you can’t explain it simply, you must be filling out the long form of your grant application.”
    – Not Albert Einstein

  26. Becky Caldwell

    “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can with your computer still running Windows 98.” — Not Arthur Ashe

  27. Becky Caldwell

    “Between two evils, I always pick the one that will give us the largest cash donation.” Not Mae West

  28. Rebekah Sassi

    i carry your credit card (i carry it in my heart)

    i carry your credit card with me(i carry it in
    my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
    i go your credit card goes, my dear; and whatever is done
    by only me is paid for by you, my darling)

    e.e. cummings

  29. Rebekah Sassi

    The Charge of the Tin Cup Brigade

    Donors to right of them,
    Donors to left of them,
    Donors in front of them
    Wine’d and dine’d;
    Entertained with song and dance,
    Boldly we solicited and well,
    Into the jaws of planned giving,
    Into the mouth of installment gifts
    Rode the staff (not six hundred).

    Flash’d all their credit cards bare,
    Flash’d as they swiped in air
    Charging the VISA there,
    Charging an AMEX, while
    All the Board wonder’d.
    Plunged in the battery-smoke
    Right thro’ the goals they broke;
    Annual Fund
    Reel’d from the direct mail-stroke
    acknowledge’d and thank’d.
    Then they rode back, but not,
    Not the staff.

    Alfred, Lord Tennyson

  30. GeorgeintheGorge

    If you can’t stand the heat, write in a bit more for capital improvements or the purchase of a fan on sale at Walgreen’s.-Harry S. Truman

  31. Craig Weinrich

    If you build it, he will come…and give you 50% of funding (sans overhead), ask where the other 50% will come from, and what is your sustainability plan for the future. -Field of Dreams

  32. Tammi Edwards

    Why do you write like you’re running out of time?
    Write day and night like you’re running out of time?
    Every day you fight like you’re running out of time…
    Because the deadline for this grant is at noon or is it midnight??
    Aaron Burr as portrayed by the great Leslie Odom in Hamilton: An American Musical

    Look around, look around at how lucky we are that we received donated liquor for our gala –Alexander Hamilton as portrayed by the genius-Lin Manuel Miranda in Hamilton: An American Musical

    Look around, look around at how lucky we are that all our volunteers showed up– Alexander Hamilton as portrayed by the genius-Lin Manuel Miranda in Hamilton: An American Musical

  33. Una

    sigh. I moved to France in July, and brought with me the hope of never again writing another grant proposal, and yet every Monday I still read your blog from way over here, it’s just so, so good. Thank you!

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