MacGyver is a Nonprofit

Business Communications, Life, Public Relations

A World of Tools for MacGyverYes, that MacGyver, the one that can create a bomb out of a paper clip, some lint, and maybe a ketchup packet if he’s fortunate to have such luxuries around.  For anyone seeking a trip down memory lane, or context for some of my younger readers, be sure to check out the original geek adventure hero online and have some fun with the SNL spoofs too.

Aside from a good retro laugh, the real prompt for this post was chatting with my friend Arik Hanson who is working with a couple of Minnesota nonprofits in the digital space.  He commented on how dedicated the staff and leadership of these organizations are and how much of themselves they truly put into their work.  The comment Arik made that hit home with me is “this is their life; they don’t leave the job when they go home. It’s part of them.” 

I’ve been fortunate to work with so many outstanding people from a variety of nonprofits and it’s a spot on comment.  As you may know, I  work for a nonprofit so I am commenting as an “insider” but have also worked for a global PR agency, a Fortune 500 medical device company, and a small specialty pharmaceutical company.  I can tell you (relatively objectively) that nonprofit staff invests themselves in their work just as much as any corporate or agency pro…maybe more. 

However, I believe that many in the PR world view nonprofits as a second-tier job.  It doesn’t carry the status that some in our industry want on their resumes which is too bad because nonprofit pros are MacGyver-like problem solvers.   They’re working on addressing major community challenges with limited budgets, increasing demands for accountability, typically lean staffs, and doing it all for less pay and prestige.  So next time you’re at an industry get-together, keep an eye out for some of these smart MacGyvers in the room.  I bet you’ll meet some great new friends filled with passion and creativity.


Noted below are some great contacts if you’re interested in learning more about smart nonprofit thinking and other communications pros working to help their communities and important causes.

  • Beth Kanter who has a great blog and a ton of ideas around nonprofit leadership
  • In Minneapolis, for my local contacts, be sure to check out Ashley Schweitzer who is a constant advocate for nonprofits
  • My inspiring pal up north, Danny Brown with his outstanding 12for12k social media/charity efforts
  • Or maybe Katya Andresen focusing on marketing for nonprofits on her blog