Feature Stories Spring 2011 Issue

For the Benefit of Society

By Wendy Allen 0

To honor the positivity and optimism that emanates from non-profit organizations (and often gushes from those who work for them), first, let’s get the term right—”not for profit” says exactly nothing about what these organizations do, not to mention, the term turns their idealism into something negative. Rather than talk about what non-profits are not, let’s focus on what they are: they are missiondriven organizations made up of people who are change makers in their communities and beyond, tirelessly working for the benefit of society. For this reason, I have joined the movement to adopt “social benefit organization” (SBO) as a replacement term that homes in on the positive qualities of optimism, community action and greater purpose.

“In my mind, social benefit organizations work because the concept represents some of the best qualities in human nature,” says Kristen Joiner, executive director for Sustain Dane in Madison. “SBOs are built on our highest values around sociability, community, fun, a sense of purpose and a desire to be of help. If you don’t believe in people it’s an improbable concept.”
SBOs operate on budgets that make bigwig marketing executives snort in disdain, work hours similar to an accountant in tax season, and every year, they must cross their fingers for the generosity of strangers and grants to provide their salaries. But they get stuff done. Often, big stuff.

We have more than forty non-profit organizations involved in food and farming in the Edible Madison region, and likely many more tucked away in the rolling country hills, quietly doing their good works. They’re too busy to toot their own horns, so we’re going to do it for them. We only have space to describe a handful of them here and encourage you to learn more about them all online. And we hope you’ll be inspired to support your favorite cause this year by making a donation and/or volunteering your time.

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