Orcas is struggling to sustain its nonprofits

Whenever I ask someone about joining one of the nonprofit boards I serve on, this is the reaction I receive: a panicked look, a quick shake of the head and “No, I am already on a board and I volunteer a lot. There is no way I can possibly take anything else on.”

The fact is, there are more volunteer needs in the Orcas community than there are people to sign up.

There are 105 nonprofits that do incredible work in arts and culture, education, health care, the environment and social services. That is one organization for every 45 people. Orcas Island is number one in the nation for gifts per capita. That is positively astounding. We are generous and care profoundly about where we live.

But according to Orcas Island Community Foundation Director Hilary Canty, nonprofits are struggling to find warm bodies to serve on their boards. She says having manpower to run an organization is just as critical – if not more – than having financial contributions.

If you haven’t yet tried holding a position on a nonprofit board, please give it a shot. Yes, it takes some time out of your already busy schedule, but I promise it is well worth it. The satisfaction of truly making a difference is something that everyone should experience. Plus you get to meet new people and work on fun projects.

However, it’s not something to take lightly. Check around, research an organization that interests you, sit in on a meeting or two or join a committee for a specific event. It needs to be an enjoyable relationship for both you and the nonprofit. Take a look at the story on page one to see a list of organizations currently in need of board members.

And if you are thinking of starting a not-for-profit on Orcas, please reconsider. Is there perhaps another group you could join? Will your organization actually be fulfilling an un-met need on the island?

For those of you who already give your time and money to important causes here, thank you for your service. You are the heartbeat of this community.

– Colleen Smith Armstrong, editor and publisher