MORGANTOWN, WV (WBOY) – Running a nonprofit takes dedication, hard work and a desire to help others. However, even with these qualities, a nonprofit still needs help — and now there’s a book for that.
“Walking in Balance: Lessons Learned from Leading a Nonprofit Business” was co-authored by Craig Greening and Bob Pirner, both of whom have worked for nonprofits or ran them for decades. Pirner currently serves as the executive director of PACE, a nonprofit that helps disabled people find employment. Greening is the executive director of Jackson County Developmental Center, which also helps disabled people with employment.
Between the two of us, we have been in nonprofits since the 1980s. We have always been nonprofit executives. We have been board members. We’ve been donors. We’ve been volunteers and learned a lot of lessons along the way and we just wanted to be able to share what we’d learn with the leaders of small nonprofits.Bob Pirner
A lot of the time, Pirner said, when books are written to help nonprofits, they are geared towards large, national, organizations. But, in this book, the authors tried to focus on the little guy.
Pirner said they felt it was important to focus on small and local nonprofits because they are the most responsive to their communities. Nonprofits with a local board serving local people are critical, he said, but they often don’t have all the tools they need to run properly.
“They’re kind of figuring it out as they go along and this book addresses or attempts to address, at least, some of the lessons we learned along the way of being in a small West Virginia town and having to do a fundraiser, being a small West Virginia town and having to recruit a board of directors, those kinds of things,” Pirner said.
Greening and Pirner did not solely draw on their knowledge from West Virginia, but also their time with Native Americans.
According to a press release, growing up in Grand Rapids Michigan Greening wanted to be a teacher. After graduating from Northern Michigan University he ended up teaching Industrial Arts at Tohatchi High School in the Navajo Nation.
The release said at an early age, Pirner began learning how to walk in the Lakota Way. The people of Spring Creek Community of the Rosebud Lakota Reservation shared freely with him their knowledge and their spirituality. From them, he learned the value of courage, fortitude, generosity and wisdom.
“I mean what I learned on the Rosebud Reservation growing has always kind of guided my philosophy as a nonprofit leader,” Pirner said. “Craig spent several years on the Navajo Reservation and he kind of uses the philosophy he learned from the Navajo Reservation as well.”
Right now, the book is available on Amazon. Pirner said the feedback from the public has been “great”.
“I got an email a couple of days ago from somebody who is a nonprofit executive in Morgantown thanking me for writing the book,” he said. “She says it’s a great book, it really helped a lot, so we’re hearing good feedback. Plus, we also have kind of the personal sense of accomplishment that we’ve shared what was taught to us.”
Sharing what they learned over decades in order to help other nonprofits for decades to come “feels great”, Pirner said.
He and Greening are grateful for everyone who helped them amass the knowledge necessary to write a book.
“Honestly, I am grateful and humbled by the fact that so many people on my journey and on Craig’s journey took the time to show us things, took the time to explain things and in some cases, helped us pick ourselves back up after we made a mistake,” Pirner said. “It feels terrific. It’s a great feeling to have and it’s just a moment of pride to look at the cover of a book and see my name on it.”