Over the last couple years year we have been in contact with many veterans non profit organizations (NPO) in the pacific northwest. We would like to say it has been a pleasant experience over all but it has really been disappointing. Right off the bat we were hit with animosity and ego’s and that was only if we got the courtesy of a return phone call or email back.
Oregon has over 200 veterans non profits and Washington has close to 300 according to the states websites and that doesn’t count all the little groups that operate without a 501c3. That to us seems like a ton of knowledge, experience and a pretty massive workforce considering every 501c3 has at least 5-6 people residing on a board of directors. So some simple math would tell us that there are at least 2,500 people who sit in board of director seats in the pacific northwest that meet regularly many times a year to discuss veterans problems and how to remedy them. That conservative number of people doesn’t include any paid staff. And many of these NPO’s have a very similar scope in mission but yet have never heard of each other or even communicate to each other.
One thing we have learned in this field is there is never enough networking to be done. There is always someone out there that knows “A guy” that can either provide the answer you’re looking for or even has the complete solution to the problem. I was recently at a local non profits function that we have been very fond of and are striving to work with as they are getting things moving and off the ground. The Central Oregon Veterans ranch is a Very unique and specialized NPO that has a very solid cause and is a treasure trove of experience and very educated folks behind the helm. There were many other NPO’s represented there with their own specific scopes in hand but the common ground of benefiting veterans was the main focus. If we were to be holding a function like this at our NPO we would be elated at the amount of support and expertise that showed up like it did that day.
There are about a dozen or so NPO’s in our region that we work with and communicate with on a regular basis for a couple of reasons. The most beneficial for us is the fact that we can discuss topics and issues that only administrators can relate to. Even as we serve veterans and see the benefit of veteran interaction helping other veterans it is even more so with the administrators helping administrators. Even if it is simply just a call to “check in” and see how ones mental health or mood is doing through the swings of a typical NPO’s fiscal year. We have found this the most beneficial form of communication between non profits because it refreshes the organization from the top down to reassure that you’re not the only one with certain problems and issues and we are all in this fight together.
The second benefit to standard communication between NPO’s is the fact there may be a solution to your dilemma that is an unneeded resource to another NPO. Some simple sharing of contacts or opening another line of communication can fill a need along the line that would have been untouchable with out the networking. What would be an untapped resource on our end may be a pivotal change for another.
Not to be a meme or political undertone with phrases like “cant we all just get along” or “in the fight together” is pretty hard to do in this sensitive age of folks getting offended so easily. But the hard truth of the matter is we are all fighting over a slice of the financial pie in order to do the same job. I compare it to a mass of people fighting over slices of cake just to feed one birthday boy at once. As we roll into 2017 with more partnered NPO’s in our Rolodex we are better off and more connected. We have a network of folks with great insight and expertise to draw from for personal support to NPO support. The help we give one another is a kin to the help we provide veterans in our mission statements.
A special thanks go out to these NPO’s that we think are making a real difference
Central Oregon Veterans ranch
Veteran outdoor adventures
Band of brothers
Bend Heroes foundation
Central Oregon veterans outreach
Source one serenity
Returning Veterans project
Wounded Warrior Project
Veterans of foreign wars
Combat Veterans motorcycle association
A Combat Veterans Hope
Purple Heart anglers