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Local group helps nonprofits help others.

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Photo: Volunteers for Mobile Loaves and Fishes
Photo: Volunteers for Mobile Loaves and Fishes

Nonprofit organizations do some of the most important work in our society. Yet, while they do not lack good intentions, they often lack other resources and knowledge about running an organization that keep them from doing all the good they'd like to do. However, one local organization intends to change that.

"Greenlights really helps nonprofits think about the management and governance stuff," says Deborah Edward, executive director of Greenlights for Nonprofit Success. "We help with financial analysis. We help people think about what their boards -- what are the most important programs to do, having people focus and plan, how to measure impact, how to be accountable."

Greenlights has already done a great deal to benefit local nonprofits.

"I came out of a twenty year business career, so I had building businesses, and I had a tremendous amount of business knowledge about how to run an organization like Mobile Loaves and Fishes, but I had absolutely no knowledge about how to run a nonprofit," says Alan Graham, president and founder of Mobile Loaves and Fishes, a group that provides food to the homeless. "So, I was able to come to Greenlights and mine from them some extraordinary nuggets. In fact, sometimes I look at Greenlights as I looked at the fantasies I used to have when I was a child that I was going to come across that vein of gold in that little cave in the neighborhood somewhere."

Greenlights succeeds in helping some of our cities most important organizations thrive.

"If you think about what nonprofits have done in our society -- it’s because of nonprofits that we have the women’s rights movements, that we’ve got programs for foster care, and for kids in trouble and for HIV programs," Edward says. "I mean, so much of the social programming in our community and our society has come from nonprofits from being at the edge and seeing the need, and in Austin that’s what they're doing, too. If you look at the environmental stuff, social justice, we have, as a sector, noticed what needs to be done and taken the lead in making those happen, and the rest of the world kind of comes along and continues it."

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Produced by Domenique Bellavia.

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