Guest Opinions

Idaho nonprofits change lives, and we all play a part

In the Treasure Valley, victims of abuse can receive support and shelter from the Women’s and Children’s Alliance or ROSE Advocates. Pet lovers can find furry companions at the Idaho Humane Society, West Valley Humane Society or Meridian Canine Rescue. Young people have a place to go after school and throughout the summer through Boys & Girls Clubs and the Treasure Valley YMCA. Seniors can gather with friends and enjoy recreation at local senior centers from Boise to Weiser.

These community-building actions result from the efforts of more than 5,000 nonprofit organizations throughout Idaho. These organizations’ missions are as diverse as the people of Idaho themselves, but one common thread unites them: they are in the business of changing lives.

Organizations like these enrich our common life together, and it’s time to celebrate them. Thursday is Idaho Gives Day across our state. We strongly encourage you to get involved with a nonprofit near you: find a local nonprofit and learn about their mission, give generously, and volunteer your time. (Need help finding a nearby organization? There’s a directory of organizations at

While government, business and social sectors are all vital to a thriving society, the social sector — led by nonprofit organizations — maintains the strongest focus on improving the lives of individuals. Management guru Peter Drucker once wrote, “The nonprofit organization exists to bring about a change in individuals and society.”

In other words, nonprofit organizations exist to improve the prevailing conditions in whatever community they reach. Whether helping homeless people into sustainable living situations, performing symphonic music for people of all ages, or nurturing faith in the young, nonprofits make our communities better places to live. Nonprofits edify us culturally, physically, economically, spiritually, intellectually and in myriad other ways.

Author Andy Crouch wrote, “The only way to change culture is to create more of it... If we seek to change culture, we will have to create something new.” Nonprofit organizations are the culture-makers Crouch writes about; their leaders are the ones who look at our society, see the problems and challenges we face, have the audacity to dream of something better, and then work to make it become reality.

Organizations like ours, which work closely with nonprofit organizations, have the privilege of seeing firsthand the excellent work being done by Idaho’s nonprofits. In our urban areas, these organizations work to improve life for all by offering economic, educational and artistic opportunities to people who live in our cities.

For example, Boise’s Wassmuth Center for Human Rights offers programming for children in grades K-12 to teach them the lessons of history and the importance of human rights. In our rural communities, nonprofits promote flourishing communities by creating institutions uniquely suited to rural life, such as the Swiftsure Ranch Therapeutic Equestrian Center, which provides therapeutic activities with horses for children and adults with disabilities, offering healing and well-being with a uniquely rural Idaho touch.

We thank the staff, volunteers and boards who make Idaho’s nonprofits succeed, and we thank you for joining us Thursday for Idaho Gives.

Amy Little is the president and CEO of the Idaho Nonprofit Center and Karen Bilowith is the president and CEO of the Idaho Community Foundation. Contributing authors are Terry Stokesbary, senior program director at the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, and Mark Priddy, from the nonprofit Full Circle Exchange in Boise.

Idaho Gives Day

Idaho Gives is Thursday, May 4th. Learn more and get involved at

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