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The Secrets to Longevity for Nonprofits

Author Patrick D. Paul
Date December 28, 2023

The Anderson Center for Autism passes along the wisdom gained from a century of service.

An abundance of bestselling books currently on the market reveal secrets of ‘longevity.’ And the fact that this topic is trending feels a bit serendipitous for all of us at Anderson Center for Autism, as 2024 will be marked by our own centennial celebrations.

We’ve been looking back, looking ahead, and reflecting on what it takes to become the healthy centenarian that our organization is today. For us, and for many individuals and organizations alike, it seems that longevity can be attributed to the following:

Have a clear purpose
As a nonprofit, decisions are always made in the context of our mission statement – optimizing the quality of life for individuals with autism. Know your “why,” which makes it easier to stay inspired in good times and bad – and allows everyone to work more productively and passionately toward a specific objective.

Surround yourself with the right people
Whatever community you are building – whether it is personal or professional – be deliberate about your choices. Cultivate relationships with people who demonstrate integrity, trustworthiness, and authenticity – and those who are genuinely rooting for your success.

Prioritize health
Recognize that any organization, group, or family is stronger when everyone involved is thriving – mind, body, and spirit. Proactively seek out ways to expand or refine health and wellness plans – and to promote diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility – which are critical to well-being for all.

Be fiscally responsible
Money matters. Develop a budget, be true to your financial realities and goals, save for unexpected expenses, and know that in doing so you’ll experience the kind of financial security that will open doors and lead to greater peace of mind.

Learn from the past
Honor the stories and rich history that made you who you are today. Acknowledge mistakes, forgive yourself and others, and be mindful of the lessons learned. Also consider what made your triumphs possible, and how to bring the best of your past into the future.

Lead with heart
Human-to-human connections are at the heart of a long, healthy journey. Over the decades, we’ve seen people from all walks of life working together to optimize the quality of life for individuals with autism. Use your time, talent, and heart to make positive contributions to humanity; it is a win for everyone.

Clarify your vision
What do you aspire to be? In what ways can you evolve? Pose these questions periodically, imagine the possibilities, develop a clear strategy, and engage others in every effort to make your vision a reality.

As we head into a new year, may we all consider the many ways we can work toward longevity.

And, for all newly minted centenarians like Anderson Center for Autism – congratulations and our warmest wishes to you for many healthy, meaningful years ahead.

Patrick Paul is the CEO and executive director of Anderson Center for Autism, located in Staatsburg, New York.