20 quotes by famous people if they had worked in nonprofit


ostrich-992753_960_720Hi everyone, I am back in the US after a rough 24-hour trip with a two-year-old that ended with us at US Customs declaring that we had brought back several packages of vegan deer jerky made from soy protein. “I have never heard anyone declaring that before,” said the officer, “did you try it before you bought it?” Of course we did, I said, disheveled and slightly offended. Everyone knows that only a fool would buy twenty bags of vegan deer jerky without trying some samples!

We are now all completely jetlagged, thanks to the baby, who does not care to get back to regular schedule. He wakes up at 3am with this soft, almost creepy whisper of “I’m hungry?” I’ve had about eight hours of sleep total over the last three days and have started hallucinating a little (“Yes, Your Holiness, I would love some easel paper…”)

All of that is to say I have no mental capacity to do a serious post today. Instead, here are some quotes I imagined from famous people if they worked in nonprofit. Add your suggestions to the comment section:

20 quotes from famous people if they had worked in nonprofit

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy attending meetings.” John Lennon

“You miss 100% of the grants you don’t write.” Wayne Gretzky 

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you still have to file your 990 each year.” Henry Ford

“The two most important days of your life are the day you are born…and the day you find out why having multiple screens for your computer is so awesome because now reports and grants are like a billion times easier!” Mark Twain

“The only thing we have to fear…is audiovisual glitches at our annual event.” Franklin Roosevelt 

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist while still achieving milestones and outcomes as required by certain funders and policy-makers.” Picasso

“Remember, no one can make you feel inferior without being related to you and repeatedly questioning why you’re in nonprofit.” Eleanor Roosevelt

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 foundations and individual donors whose priorities don’t align with my organization’s.” Thomas A. Edison

“Better to remain silent and thought a fool, than to speak out and confirm that you didn’t do the assigned readings before the strategic planning retreat.” Abraham Lincoln

“When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? To surrender dreams, this may be madness…Too much sanity may be madness! But maddest of all is to micromanage your staff instead of jointly setting goals, providing support, and trusting people to do their jobs.” Don Quijote 

“When you gaze long into the Abyss of Sustainability, the Abyss of Sustainability also gazes into you.” Friedrich Nietzsche 

“The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus and a chair that’s not obtained from Craigslist that keeps poking into his back.” Bruce Lee 

“Some minds are like special parachutes. They only function when they’re opened by a consultant.” Sir James Dewar

“It’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission from the liquor license board for your event.” Grace Hopper 

“Don’t judge each day by the number of emails you clear from your inbox, but by the number of your own emails you prevent from clogging up other people’s inboxes.” Robert Louis Stevenson

“Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck. Unless it’s a grant that would totally keep services going for thousands of low-income clients…” Dalai Lama

“If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, don’t ask about sustainability and admin costs. Just get on!” Sheryl Sandberg

“Out, damned hummus stain! Out, I say!” Lady MacBeth

“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success. Not killing each other while planning an annual event is a miracle.” Henry Ford

“If you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell shouldn’t schedule a meeting with me before 10am.” Marilyn Monroe

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  • Gary Minford

    “Ask not what your non-profit can do for the community they serve, rather what they can do for you” Every corporate funder ever, via JFK

  • Belle

    No one can do great things, we can only do small things with great love, and measure the heck out of them for our funders’ – Mother Teresa

  • Paula Matthysse

    Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have and they are unicorns! Margaret Mead

  • Michael Kleinman

    Three more:

    – A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough colleagues to make it worth the effort (Albright)

    – But I more and more learn the extreme slowness of things; and that, though we are all disposed to think that the grant approval will occur in our lifetime, it will not (Arnold)

    – Men do not differ much about what things they call evils; they differ enormously about what evils they will call fundable (Chesterton)

  • Get 20 volunteers, dressed as wait staff to serve oysters and pearls at the donor luncheon by noon today-It’s like deja-vu, all over again….. Yogi Berra

  • Rachel Claire

    My favorite: “Remember, no one can make you feel inferior without being related to you and repeatedly questioning why you’re in nonprofit.” Eleanor Roosevelt

  • Trina Portillo

    “The only thing we have to fear” quote is taken from FDR, not Teddy. But I do love this list!

  • Allison Whitehall

    Boards strategic plan, God laughs.

  • mbutown

    Qualitative outcomes are not the equivalent of quantitative outcomes you moron! – Steven Hawking

  • Debra Holland

    These are fantastic! My favorite: “Some minds are like special parachutes. They only function when they’re opened by a consultant.” Sir James Dewar

  • S NV Nonprofit Info Ctr

    I’d like to add the following:
    “I fundraise, therefore I am.” — Descartes

    “In the midst of chaos, there are many unopened strategic plans” – Sun Tzu

    “Life is like a box of in-kind donations. You never know what you’re gonna get.” — Forrest Gump

  • Amy McDougal Albrecht

    My mantra and it doesn’t even need to be edited: No good deed goes unpunished. – Oscar Wilde

  • All wonderful, all amazing. YOU are amazing, dear Vu Le. Keep imagining, keep commenting, keep being your rigorous, compassionate, wonderful self. BRAVO! And welcome back from vacations … ;=))

  • Nancy Long

    Only those who attempt the absurd can achieve the impossible empty inbox – Einstein

    Everybody is a genius but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree you have finally figured out the meaning of Race to the Top – Einstein too!

  • Rachael Bahre

    I’ve got another to add to this already amazing list:
    “There is nothing to grant writing. All you do is sit down at your computer and bleed.” Ernest Hemgingway

  • Ken Ristine

    “There is no great thought that cannot be expressed simply and within 200 characters in the box on our online form.” Albert Einstein

  • nicole

    I will promptly be making these into motivational posters for my office.

  • awesome!
    ps: re mark twain quote: “The two most important days IN your life…”