Conversations Add Up

I loved Girl Scouts when I was a kid. Much to my leaders’ credit, my troop was always doing service projects - cleaning up trails in West Virginia’s state parks, singing Christmas concerts at local nursing homes, collecting canned goods for food drives, and baking cookies for the sales and splitting our proceeds between our troop and another community group.

Because of all this, the concept of nonprofits and their purpose always made sense to me, even if at that age I didn’t know the word. So now, it always shocks me when someone asks “a non-what?” or comments that “nonprofits can’t do much because they don’t make money.”

It’s strange that people still don’t get it with all that nonprofits accomplish and the ways they support their communities. 

It’s a bit overwhelming to think about how to change the thinking of all those people. But it turns out, one by one, they’re a familiar face at the grocery store, a parent at my son’s school, a neighbor down the street. And when I mention I work for a nonprofit, I can explain it fully to an audience of one – and they get it.

This November, nonprofits will celebrate Nonprofit Awareness Month to help the public better understand the value and impact of nonprofits in communities across our state. I feel like my one conversation, plus another conversation, plus one more conversation can create a wave of understanding that gets us to our goal: everyone getting it.

What will you do this November? How will you reach out to those who don’t know about your organization?

See what Nonprofit Awareness Month is all about.  Add your conversations.

Caroline McDowell is administrative associate at the N.C. Center for Nonprofits, where she has been on the staff team for four years.


I did not know there was a Non-profit awareness month. Gives me a chance to reach out to other worthy NPs while I start the process of beginning a new NP. So grateful for all the resources supplied to us newbies.

Will definitely participate and share!

Thanks so much for this post and the reminder for us to get out the word about the work that we're doing. This month we'll be hosting an orientation session for volunteers AND hosting our first ever 5 K, The Race Home ( to support our mission of welcoming refugees from around the world to lives of peace and hope here in the Triangle.

On a personal note, I do try to share frequently with friends and neighbors about the myriad ways they can get involved with our clients--from donating furniture to helping with a job prep class to serving as an English conversation partner for new arrivals. What a wonderful way to get to know some of our newest neighbors!

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