I {Heart} Nonprofits

I {Heart} Nonprofits

YNPN Twin Cities member Dania Toscano Miwa talks about why she's never gonna give up the nonprofit sector.

Seriously, what’s not to love? Organizations working to make social change, fix big hairy problems and impact change, both locally and globally. Staff who dedicate their careers and purpose to a mission and to improve our world.

Plus, of course, our volunteers and supporters, both in and out of the boardroom, who give away their time, talent and resources in support of what we do. It all adds up to a commitment, a values statement, an ideal.

Again I say, what’s not to love?

For me, growing up with two parents working for nonprofits, I never really even thought about it. I didn’t wake up one day and say, “I’m going to devote my career to the betterment of the nonprofit sector.” It wasn’t a conscious choice. I found myself naturally gravitating to organizations and mission driven work. I wanted to “do something” and work for a place that cared about my values and value.

I do remember bombing a job interview at a bank. I knew it was over when I was told the volunteer section of my resume was of no value to this institution, and I would be best to remove it from my resume.  That would have eliminated almost all of my practical work experience, which I had gained from volunteering in offices at various organizations in high school and college.

What was left was my job at a doggy day-care. If I had taken that advice, I would have “expert poo scooper” and “positive reinforcement training assistant” as the sum total of my work experience. (Although I have to say the positive reinforcement dog training actually does have practical use in certain nonprofit environments as well, but I digress.)

Another reason I love this sector is the information-generous nature of the sector and its people. Most of the time when I’m working through a challenge with an organization, I can pick up the phone and chat with a colleague who has probably dealt with a similar issue and is willing to help troubleshoot.

This spirit of generosity permeates the sector. For example, there are free superb resources available here in Minnesota, such as the Principals & Practices for Nonprofit Excellence. In addition, there are the numerous national resource organizations such as BoardSource, with tons of resources dedicated to training effective board members, and CharityChannel, a great peer-to-peer networking site for fundraising professionals, plus a publishing arm. Idealist is especially useful to young professionals for professional skill building.

Many “helper organizations” are active in my region with the sole purpose and mission  to guide, educate, support and train nonprofit organizations.  In Minnesota, we have an extraordinarily strong Nonprofit state association, The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits.   Additionally, there are such organizations as the Nonprofit Assistance Fund, MACC Commonwealth, MAP for Nonprofits, Charities Review Council, Nonprofit Resources Collaborative and more. These organizations and many more devote themselves to the betterment of the sector and its people and to continuously help organizations become more efficient, effective and maximize their impact.

I have worked, volunteered and supported organizations for my entire career and I can’t imagine doing anything else.

I plan to stay connected to the nonprofit sector for the entirety of my career and I know many of my colleagues have pledged the same. Now if that’s not love and devotion, I don’t know what is!

Dania Toscana MiwaDania Toscano Miwa is the Managing Principal and co-founder of Toscano Advisors, a three-year old consulting firm specializing in strategy, fundraising, executive recruiting and leadership development for nonprofit organizations.

She has more than ten years of experience working with/for nonprofits as diverse as the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, Greater Minneapolis Crisis Nursery, OTA-Pollen, The Northside Achievement Zone, The International Wolf Center, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Animal Humane Society, the American Indian Cancer Foundation and the Regional Parks Foundation. She is co-author and editor of the Toscano Advisors blog.

Dania is a member of the Boards of Directors of Azul, the Minnesota Zoo’s young professional board and chair of the governance committee, and on the board of the Headwaters Foundation for Justice, where she is the co-chair of the development and outreach committee. She was formerly on the board of directors of her local YNPN chapter from 2009-10.

Our Supporters