Honoring Nonprofit Excellence

Marnie Taylor

OpEd by Marnie Taylor, President and CEO

Over the weekend, the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits held its 12th annual Oklahoma Nonprofit Excellence Awards in Tulsa. Every year, 24 nonprofits from every corner of Oklahoma gather together to receive cash grants of at least $5,000 honoring their programs and services that improve lives, change lives and truly save lives.

This year was incredibly inspiring. The overall winner receiving the Tulsa Community Foundation Award for Excellence was the Mabee-Gerrer Museum in Shawnee. The list of category winners and finalists was long, and everyone walked out a winner.

Right now, I’m especially reminded that our charitable sector is a real winner for the state of Oklahoma. A few months ago, I was appointed to an advisory board for the Department of Commerce by Secretary Sean Kouplen (who, along with his wife, were the ONE Awards honorary co-chairs). In our conversations with other members of the advisory board and the secretary, it has become more obvious and clear that the charitable sector is one of our state’s crown jewels – highly respected, beloved and revered. It is a sector of excellence.

And Monday, that sense of energy and excellence around our sector continued with the Journal Record’s “Most Admired CEO” event. I am thrilled that the Journal Record sees the importance of honoring nonprofit leaders in their own category. I was humbled to be a part of that group this year, sharing awards with many of my good friends who lead some of the best nonprofits in the state. These men and women all embody excellence in their work.

Prior to the awards, the Journal Record invited us to hear a presentation from the Persimmon Group about “disruption.” In thinking about this, I realize that the idea of “excellence” is positively disrupting the charitable sector. Nonprofits are embracing excellence, whether through increased transparency, having better boards, planning strategically, collaborating with others or investing in strong leadership. I’m very thankful that “excellence” isn’t just a buzzword in our sector – it’s a benchmark.

Right now, there is a lot of synergy working in and around the nonprofit sector. We are coming to sit at the table with our corporate and small business partners. Philanthropy, business, government and nonprofits are working together in an innovative collaboration to solve our state’s problems. Gov. Stitt has said time and time again that he wants Oklahoma to be a “top 10 state,” and nonprofits – particularly nonprofits exhibiting excellence – will be a driving force to make this happen.

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