The nonprofit industry in Jacksonville lacks the fresh perspective and energy of passionate young innovators, and this became clear to me at the 4th annual Nonprofit Management Conference hosted by UNF and Hands On Jacksonville last weekend. During the conference, I was able to meet and interact with professors, nonprofit directors, and CEOs. It didn’t take more than a moment for me to recognize that I was the youngest person in the room, but that didn’t inhibit a lot of people from asking me questions about the organization I work with. Many of the topics of discussion included struggles unique to the nonprofit industry and the problems that these experienced individuals have faced in the past. However, there wasn’t a variety of discussion involving the movements made to change these issues, especially from the older individuals. Aside from the personal conversations, the speakers seemed optimistic and motivational. During the various workshops, it became clear to me that nonprofits require the vision of young people who have the educational edge to compete with the scale of bigger issues in Jacksonville.
One of the workshops that I attended was “Making the Ask.” Fundraising is a almost a dirty word in society and one of the most difficult burdens for a nonprofit, and I encountered some negative comments regarding the subject. “Branding” was the title of the other workshop that I attended, and that one was the most eye-opening for me. The speaker did a fantastic job, but a few comments from that group revealed some outdated views on branding and its value in the success of a nonprofit. It made me question the future success of nonprofits in Jacksonville. Why aren’t young people involved in nonprofits in Jacksonville? According to a survey on the Nonprofit Quarterly, young people are interested in joining nonprofits, but the risk of sacrificing a decent wage outweighs passion. This is an issue for me, and I would love to be apart of the influence that changes the future for nonprofits and getting young people involved because that is vital for success in this industry.