A Nonprofit’s Magic: How to make the secret sauce.

A Nonprofit’s Magic: It’s In the Secret Sauce


You may be wondering why I would align the dedicated and hard work of nonprofit organizations with magic.  Magic is believed to be part of fantasy as well as have other negative connotations.  But, many of us catch ourselves wishing for things that we do not have.  We at times share the fantasy of magic to hope for something that is not currently part of our reality.   I’m sure many nonprofit leaders, managers, staff and volunteers have at one moment in time ‘wished’ for more money, stronger partners, additional manpower, better perks, etc.   So, do nonprofits have the magic to make these things happen?  I believe that they each have a secret sauce to make magic!

As per Google’s Definition, magic is “the power of apparently influencing the course of events by using mysterious or supernatural forces”.  Informally, it can also mean, “wonderful; exciting.”  I believe that the work that nonprofits do is supernatural.  Many nonprofits take steps for others with little compensation, recognition or reward in return.  Such feats are pretty supernatural to me.  It is not in many people’s natural tendency to pursue their passion if it may not give strong returns.  But, let’s look at the returns; they are not less, just different.   Therefore I see nonprofits’ work as definitely ‘wonderful and exciting’!

I believe that all businesses have a recipe of ingredients that make up their ‘secret sauce’ to help them make magic and make an impact.  For example, Steve Jobs was the secret sauce for Apple.  The Google culture is the ‘secret sauce’ for Google.  Entrepreneurial endeavors of selling cookies is the ‘secret sauce’ for the Girl Scouts.

By using this secret sauce, nonprofits can make magic and, as per the definition, influence the course of events.  I love to refer to the March of Dimes as an example.  This organization was created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to fight polio.   As per the website, “…the foundation established a polio patient aid program and funded research for vaccines developed by Jonas Salk, MD and Albert Sabin, MD. These vaccines effectively ended epidemic polio in the United States.” (Underline added).   Funding research for vaccines and widespread vaccinations was their secret sauce to create magic.

What is a nonprofit’s magic?  Their ability to:

  • Build a business out of a passion.
  • Identify and serve populations that can be hard for others to work with.
  • Provide (for individuals, animals and communities).
  • Persevere without many perks (that the for-profit world may get).
  • Change our social landscape so that disadvantaged populations have a better chance to be on equal footing.
  • Serve, support and love when others don’t find that profitable enough to do what’s important.


Nonprofits may not be known for making big profits, but nonprofits can make BIG IMPACT!  That’s the magic which is created by the secret sauce of each individual nonprofit.  Each nonprofit has its own recipe for their secret sauce.  What’s your nonprofit’s special sauce to make your magic?


Photo credit to: Microsoft Office Clip Art


Jeanne Ward is a Consultant and Personal Strategist who brings her knowledge of psychology, strategy and personal fulfillment to her current work. Jeanne started her career by helping mentally ill inmates to ‘get their lives back on track’ as they integrated back into society from jail in NYC. She leveraged this experience with a Social Work degree to manage teams who were supporting people trying to move back into the workforce. She later lived in Atlanta, GA and Frankfurt, Germany where she began consulting with nonprofit organizations to guide them on their strategy, volunteer development, and organizational development as well as to support the development of their leaders and board of directors. After the jolt of a divorce, Jeanne found herself doing a lot of soul-searching. Digging deep, she arrived at a new-found appreciation for herself and the world around her. This journey taught her that when we start with improving ourselves, the benefits multiply. Jeanne realized that her strengths of strategic thinking, relationship building, and implementation planning could be combined into her ongoing passion of personal leadership. Hence, her personal strategy work was born. Jeanne helps men and women between the ages of 35 and 55 who are fed up with their corporate jobs to create fulfilling professional and personal lives through the development of a personal strategic plan. This work ensures that her clients identify their professional and personal goals as well as create a plan to make those goals a reality. Jeanne is also the Executive Director of the Atlanta Road Trotters Kid’s Running Club, a nonprofit organization that provides a platform for children to build a foundation of running health and fitness which leads to a better connection to the organized running community as well as a strong foundation of Discipline, Self-Esteem, Respect and Team Work. She has also co-authored a workbook on networking, founded and organized the National Association of Social Workers-Georgia-sponsored ‘Social Service Career Network’ and organized a summit for the National Alliance for Mentally Ill attended by over 100 organizations from 6 Atlanta counties. Previously, she sat on the board of NASW GA as their Secretary as well as on the board of NAMI GA/DeKalb as their Co-President, was a senior consultant for the Georgia Center for Nonprofits and helped to run a capital campaign for an independent school. Jeanne has an MSW from Hunter School of Social Work (City University of New York), an MA in Forensic Psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice (City University of New York) and a BA in Psychology from Emory University. Jeanne lives in Atlanta with her ten-year-old son.

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