Three Muhammad Ali Quotes for the Nonprofit Sector

My husband and I were living in Carrollton, Georgia during the time of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta. Like millions of others, we tuned in to watch the opening ceremony where Muhammad Ali emerged as the surprise guest to light the Olympic Torch — an unforgettable moment.

Muhammad Ali provided words of encouragement and inspiration throughout his life. When I heard that he had died, I began pouring over articles on the Twitter feed about his life. Three Muhammad Ali quotes jumped out at me that seem to speak to our sector:

1. “You lose nothing when fighting for a cause. In my mind the losers are those who don’t have a cause they care about.”

Supporting a cause you care about is a highlight of philanthropy and a life well-lived. As volunteers, donors and professionals working together in this sector for the greatest good, there is nothing more satisfying. The winners in life are those who take the time and effort to genuinely engage and support the causes they care about most.

2. “Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”

When working to raise funds for the causes you really care about, never, never, never, never, never give up until you can say: Mission accomplished!

3. “Champions are made from something they have deep inside them—a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have last-minute stamina, they have to be a little faster, they have to have the skill and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill.”

These words ring true for any successful fundraising campaign: “the will must be stronger.” Tap into your fundraising grit. I’ve said this before: if you are genuinely passionate about a cause you care about, then be grittier and reach your fundraising goals.

Throughout his life, Muhammad Ali provided words of encouragement and inspiration that we can tap into to help us stay motivated. Our work is challenging, and the competition for charitable dollars remains.

I leave you with one final thought from the Muhammad Ali Center:

“Be great. Do great things.”

Our sector depends on it.

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