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Vegetarian Journal Nov/Dec 1999

Note from the Coordinators

It's Not Easy Running a Non-Profit

Debra Wasserman
Charles Stahler
Recently, we learned that an animal-related non-profit organization is closing its doors. Additionally, an environmental vegetarian-focused group has changed its management direction twice in the past two years. Though both were very gung-ho when they started, we're not totally surprised. Running a non-profit organization is very difficult.

Most people have higher expectations of non-profit organizations than businesses. They want you to live up to tough standards, and act as if you have unlimited income and can meet all demands. Some individuals like that you don't do what many businesses do, but at the same time expect you to operate as if you had the same income source of which they don't approve. Logically, most donors don't want to give towards salaries, yet those same people won't work for non-profits for what they consider a low income.

In "movements," it seems many people who become involved don't communicate with their families. In a sense, the non-profit is a substitute for their family. Their passion and unlimited time is what helps keep non-profits going. But at the same time, these same people often flame and burn out, become alienated from others, or their family relationships are strained. And, in some instances, when they find a mate, they drop their non-profit commitments.

If you want to keep people involved in non-profits long term, you need to understand that you must have staff and volunteers who have balanced lives. As a supporter, they are your partners, not your servants. Thank you very much to empathetic members who understand many of these issues and are supportive of various small and large non-profits, as well as ethical businesses that face some of the same dilemmas.

Welcome to new staff members Drew Nelson (circulation manager) and Jeanne McStay (catalog manager). Jeanne comes to us from the tax and accounting field, while Drew spent the last several years working for restaurants, food co-ops, and natural foods stores. Drew also toured as a musician. Jeanne is a long time VRG volunteer and decided to take a break from accounting firms to work full time for a vegetarian group. We'd also like to say goodbye to Hiroko Kato, who interned with us for six months. Hiroko was a professional journalist in Japan working for a large commercial magazine, but wanted to learn about American non-profits, vegetarianism, and web sites. Hiroko has written a terrific piece on Japanese vegan holiday dishes on page 20 of this issue. She also enjoyed working on our website with Davida Breier while here.

And lastly, thank you to all our volunteers who helped at recent Vegetarian Resource Group outreach booths during The American Dietetic Association Annual Meeting in Atlanta and the Society for Nutrition Education Conference in Maryland. To keep apprised of current activities, don't forget that we have an e-mail newsletter, which Davida sends out monthly. To sign up, go to the VRG web site at

Debra Wasserman & Charles Stahler

Coordinators of The Vegetarian Resource Group 


Excerpts from the Nov/Dec Issue

The Vegetarian Journal published here is not the complete issue, but these are excerpts from the published magazine. Anyone wanting to see everything should subscribe to the magazine.

This article was converted to HTML by Jeanie Freeman

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