Our New Years Resolutions: Sustainability, Renewal, and Growth

December 29, 2016

These days, the new trendy business concept is self-care and rejuvenation. For good reason—we tend to overwork ourselves and glorify the "busy." It's no wonder there's been a surge of women building careers as life coaches, as well as new resources, networks and groups to support working women. At the Women's Foundation and PowerHouse Montana, we work with dozens of amazing women who are passionate about supporting and encouraging other women. Sometimes, they act as cheerleaders and tough-love givers. Other times, they serve as connectors to resources and opportunities, also known as sponsorship. These kinds of relationships build skills and connections that can grow and sustain us throughout our professional careers.

On that vein, I've been thinking a lot about sustainability, especially the sustainability of a movement such as PowerHouse Montana. In the nonprofit sector, sustainable capacity building is constantly at the forefront of what we do in order to make our donated and granted funds go as far as possible. As an AmeriCorps VISTA, my mission and purpose is to work myself out of a job. I’m starting to realize that sustainability takes a lot of work.

The Council of Nonprofits defines sustainability as an organization's ability to fulfill the mission over the long term with few resources. But the nonprofit definition of sustainability is dull and incomplete. It might be the end goal, but the question is, "how?" Part of making anything sustainable, including grassroots initiatives such as PowerHouse Montana, is to make sure the energy behind it is renewable and the people resilient. PowerHouse Montana, like any nonprofit initiative, takes a village to execute, and a good portion of that village is volunteers. Yes, nonprofits, including ours, are pinching pennies, but the resources we have in abundance are relationships, and the spirit of all of us reaching success, together.

We’ve been fortunate to create many relationships with PowerHouse women (and men) since its launch and these relationships are what have grown the PowerHouse to the force that it is today. My hope is that this growth is long-term and impactful for those who fight the good fight for gender equity in the workplace and believe in supporting the advancement of women’s economic opportunity. By continuing to build stronger, more efficient networks and paying it forward to other women, we are creating a renewable form of sustainability that is far more efficient than an action plan alone. In 2017 we will celebrate two years since the launch of PowerHouse Montana, and continue to work for the benefit of Montana’s women and girls. By the end of 2017, we will have begun #MentorMondayMT events in at least one new city, and have continued to build new partnerships with nonprofits providing mentors to women in need. We will have created teams of women who want to make real change in their communities. We will have more women on PowerHouse than people in the town of Fort Peck! And we’ll have strengthened the digital infrastructure between working women in every corner of the state. The village we have built is strong and resilient, and with every woman promoted to a leadership position and every tangible step we make towards equal pay, our movement renews itself in perpetuity. We do this by paying it forward, one PowerHouse connection at a time. I hope that for you, 2017 is filled with new friends, breakthroughs, and opportunities. I hope you are able to use PowerHouse Montana to make new connections. I hope that you are renewed, your resilience grows, you pay it forward to women in your life, and that we can all achieve great things, together!