Since its founding, Eagle River Watershed Council has achieved big things with a small staff of just one or two people. Although our projects often require large amounts of money to complete (the Edwards Restoration Project cost about $4 million), those are all dollars in and dollars out. On any given day we may be functioning as a general contractor on a project, while simultaneously writing a grant, and then sending out a newsletter to our supporters. The next day we might be holding a meeting to update stakeholders on the progress of one of our collaborative projects. That is just how things function at a “small nonprofit.”
Shortly after our founding, ERWC assumed the role of organizing both the Eagle River Cleanup and Community Pride Highway Cleanup. Both events were pretty well-established in the community, but over the years we have grown them significantly with the help of hardworking board members and volunteers. The highway cleanup alone requires us to organize over 900 volunteers along 138 miles of our four major highways in one single day. And until this year, this massive organizational undertaking was coordinated on simple Excel spreadsheets!Winning the Small Nonprofit of the Year award was affirmation that the community recognizes not only that our work is important – critical, actually – but also that we have done a good job doing that work. It is also a nod to the fact that you don’t need a huge staff to get it done, you just need a group of passionate and hardworking people, which we have in our small staff (past and present) and in our board of directors (again, past and present). I am lucky to work with these great folks- every single one is dedicated and willing to jump in and lend their support in their area of expertise.
I started here in July and am thrilled to have stepped into the big shoes of my predecessor, Melissa Macdonald. She was a master at many things, including building relationships in the community, which made things easier for me when I came on board.
All of this said: we are upgrading from excel spreadsheets to a great new database before the Highway Cleanup this year! Even a small nonprofit has the right to use good technology!