The non-profit sector is all about connecting you to your community, but if you're not willing to persevere, the work can be a struggle. Understanding the complexity of the sector and the diligence required is the first key step to succeeding within it. There's high reward within the industry, but that comes with high complexity, and learning to embrace both is what Mount Saint Vincent University's new Non-Profit Leadership Program is preparing you for.
"We need bold, smart, driven and courageous individuals within the non-profit sector to continue to grow positive outcomes and to build a stronger community for all," says Sara Napier, President and CEO of United Way Halifax, and graduated of MSVU's public relations program. Napier is thrilled about the program offering that the Mount is providing to the non-profit sector in creating an educational backbone to this profession. "This program will be building that strength and talent needed within the community," Napier adds.
Napier speaks to the advances that the Mount makes within its curriculum. "It is always ahead of the game," says Napier. "They get out in front of areas of focus that are required for our communities to be better, and they do it in great spirit." There are a range of options when looking at non-profit programs, but MSVU distinguishes itself by zeroing in on non-profit work as a calling, and the university's tailored precisely to that calling with community change at the root of the program.
Napier says her experience at MSVU was a game-changer for her, and that it was a community where she found her confidence and a source of belonging. "With their warmth and welcoming spirit, I'm proud to have been connected with them for a number of years now," Napier says, having also returned as a part-time instructor at the Mount.
Her experience helped prepare her for the work she does with United Way Halifax, including how to lead an organization. In this role, Napier leads the staff team, reports to a volunteer board of directors, and works with thousands of volunteers, community leaders and donors to create positive change within the community.
United Way Halifax's vision is: "Halifax. United by compassion. Rich in opportunity. Free of poverty." There are three main ways United Way Halifax delivers on this vision. The first is being a funder of organizations that are aligned with their vision, and they currently have 48 organizations within urban, suburban and rural Halifax that they contribute to.
The second is being a voice for change through conversation, events, social media, editorials and fundraising. This is their opportunity to educate and engage in the importance of solving issues, like eradicating poverty, as a community.
The third is facilitating partnerships to tackle complex community change. The most recent example is a poverty report and plan that Napier and Halifax mayor Mike Savage have been co-chairing over the past several months.
Napier's passion for the Non-Profit sector is what helps her succeed in the field, and that's what her word of advice is for anyone else who is considering this branch of work.
"Ensure that if you're working in a non-profit that your heart and mind are aligned with the organization. Belief and value alignment is critical to authentically build relationships and create impact," says Napier. This work takes up a large portion of your life and will embody you. Do a heart and mind check in order to do the work diligently, and the reward will always follow through.