A New Phase for HMN: Paid Staff (And We Need Your Help)

By Ellie Haylund

Humanism as we know it is certainly not a new concept, but I’ve often felt that it lived in relative obscurity. Relatable, but requiring an explanation; simply not a household name. And while one might argue that it is still not a commonplace term among the general public, humanism has become increasingly applicable in society both with the rising numbers of the religiously unaffiliated as well as the palpable need for reason and compassion in our society.  

As an organization dedicated to humanist values and community, we know that HumanistsMN is on the right track. We have been growing steadily in the past decade and in leaps and bounds in the past couple of years. What we’re doing resonates with people as we offer an ever wider array of programming from social events to lifelong learning, personal growth and support groups, to service opportunities and advocacy work. 

Now at nearly 450 dues-paying members, we find ourselves in an unprecedented place. We have a handful of incredibly committed volunteers who plan and execute all the programming and tasks within HMN, and we are so grateful for them. Yet we must be realistic about the future. We cannot solely rely on the tireless efforts and long-term dedication of our volunteers to keep us chugging along.  It is not a sustainable model especially as we attempt to meet the needs of a larger membership and work toward our aspirations for a more visible and impactful organization.  

Hence, we are entering a new phase in our almost 40-year history as an organization. We are at the exciting but often challenging juncture in a nonprofit’s trajectory that of transitioning from an all-volunteer organization to one with paid staff. 

Over the last two years, the Board has been discussing the prospects of hiring a part-time staff person. We have explored various possibilities and concluded that a Director of Operations would be a good starting point. While HumanistsMN would still mainly function with a robust corps of volunteers, a dedicated staff person to track what we are doing and provide additional support to our volunteers will help maintain all that we have accomplished in recent years and position us for even greater things to come.

We see this as a necessary step for HumanistsMN. As more and more people leave religion and churches, there is a growing vacuum in society for independent institutions that offer opportunities for meaningful social connection, ethical reflection, personal support and growth, critical thinking, and service and advocacy initiatives. HumanistsMN is filling that void now for many people, but to sustain our efforts we need paid staff to help with the work. 

The Board will be exploring options for a fundraising campaign in the coming months for this purpose. When the time comes, we hope that HMN members and friends will contribute financially — as they are able — to help us meet this moment in our organization. Again, HumanistsMN aspires to be a champion for humanist values in a world in dire need of them and to provide a home for nonbelievers in our region who want to do good and be good together. We invite you to help us fulfill this vision.

We would love to get your feedback about this plan. Please come to our annual meeting at 3 p.m. on May 18 to hear more!

Ellie Haylund is president of HumanistsMN.

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