Words of Wisdom: 41 Inspirational Quotations for Young Nonprofit Leaders

I adore inspirational quotations– and I’ll admit that I have a rather silly habit of keeping long lists of my favorites.  After spending a considerable amount of time weeding through the bunch, I’m pleased to present 41 tidbits of advice from famous folks who know/knew a thing or two about leadership, determination, and putting your heart into something you’re just crazy about.

Please comment with your own favorite quotations to add to the list. I’d love to hear what gets you up and running, and doing what you do best!

“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.”
– Abraham Lincoln

“Don’t worry when you are not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition.”
– Abraham Lincoln

“We should be too big to take offense and too noble to give it.”
– Abraham Lincoln

“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.”
– Albert Einstein

“Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value.”
– Albert Einstein

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
– Anne Frank

“Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself. Because it’s only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential.”
-Barack Obama

“If you’re walking down the right path and you’re willing to keep walking, eventually you’ll make progress.”
-Barack Obama

“When people go to work, they shouldn’t have to leave their hearts at home.”
– Betty Bender

“If you think you are too small to be effective, you have never been in bed with a mosquito.”
– Betty Reese

“If I were given the opportunity to present a gift to the next generation, it would be the ability for each individual to learn to laugh at himself.”
– Charles M. Schulz

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.  It’s not.”
– Dr. Seuss

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”
– e. e. cummings

“The leadership instinct you are born with is the backbone. You develop the funny bone and the wishbone that go with it.”
– Elaine Agather

“Self-development is a higher duty than self-sacrifice.”
– Elizabeth Cady Stanton

“Bite off more than you can chew, then chew it.”
– Ella Williams

“I know the price of success: dedication, hard work, and an unremitting devotion to the things you want to see happen”
– Frank Lloyd Wright

”The important work of moving the world forward does not wait to be done by perfect men.”
– George Eliot

“I found that the men and women who got to the top were those who did the jobs they had in hand, with everything they had of energy and enthusiasm and hard work.”
– Harry S. Truman

“Do not hire a man who does your work for money, but him who does it for love of it.”
– Henry David Thoreau

“If the laborer gets no more than the wages which his employer pays him, he is cheated, he cheats himself.”
– Henry David Thoreau

“Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.”
– Henry David Thoreau

“When a dog runs at you, whistle for him”
– Henry David Thoreau

“Goodness is the only investment that never fails.”
– Henry David Thoreau

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
– John Quincy Adams

“Each of us has a spark of life inside us, and our highest endeavor ought to be to set off that spark in one another.”
– Kenny Ausubel

“What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.”
– Kurt Vonnegut

“A man’s character may be learned from the adjectives which he habitually uses in conversation.
– Mark Twain

“I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catchers mitt on both hands.  You need to be able to throw something back.”
– Maya Angelou

“The world belongs to the energetic.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Enthusiasm is the mother of effort, and without it nothing great was ever achieved.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Do not be too timid and squeamish about your reactions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.”
– Robert F. Kennedy

“Each generation goes further than the generation preceding it because it stands on the shoulders of that generation. You will have opportunities beyond anything we’ve ever known.”
– Ronald Reagan

“Find a need and fill it.”
– Ruth Stafford Peale

“We can always live on less when we have more to live for.”
– S. Stephen McKenney

“We must remember that one determined person can make a significant difference, and that a small group of determined people can change the course of history.”
– Sonia Johnson

“Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”
– Theodore Roosevelt

“Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.”
-Thomas Edison

“I’m a great believer in luck and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.”
– Thomas Jefferson

“Leaders are people who do the right thing; managers are people who do things right.”
– Warren G. Bennis

Posted on by Colleen Dilenschneider in Miscellaneous, Nonprofit Marketing 41 Comments

About the author

Colleen Dilenschneider

MPA. Chief Market Engagement Officer at IMPACTS Research & Development. Nonprofit marketer, Generation Y museum, zoo & aquarium writer/speaker, web engagement geek, data nerd, marathoner, nomad, herbivore

41 Responses to Words of Wisdom: 41 Inspirational Quotations for Young Nonprofit Leaders

  1. Oona

    Great list! My faves are the mosquito one and the spark of life one. Thanks for posting!

  2. Marianne

    Great collection!…and the design of your blog is pretty cool too.
    Ps. I “favorited” this site/post

    • colleendilen

      Thanks, Marianne. I appreciate it!

      • James Atandi

        Great inspirational quotes

  3. Lynn

    I have two quotes I pretty much live by: “To Thine Own Self Be True” – William Shakespeare and the other is “Life is a great big canvas, and you should throw all the paint on it you can” – Danny Kaye

  4. thando

    I havefound all the qoutes very helpful towards my project of forming a Community of Knowing in my society.

    Heres one for you

    woory can rob you off your happiness but kindwords can cheer you up

    an idea well expressed is like a design of gold set in silver.

  5. Jen Johnson

    LOVE these quotes, thanks for putting them all together in one place!

  6. Aleeshkhan

    I really like the quotes and the way these have been represented, really captivated me. Stay blessed and keep on posting…..


    winners are simple ex-losers who got mad


    True strength come from inside


    there is no way to peace, peace is the way


    you dont need capital to start a business, you first need to capitalize yourself

  11. faiza

    i have a quote “LIFE IS A COMPROMISE BETWEEN YOUR FEELINGS AND REALITY” at every stage you have to quite your feeling and accept the reality

  12. James D'Ambrosio

    This is a great list. As a thinking individual in the nonprofit sector, I can relate to many of them. Thanks for posting.

  13. Samantha

    This just made my afternoon so much better!! As I am organizing my first nonprofit organization and working on promotional materials, I really needed a little boost! Thank you!

  14. Lutambi Sr.

    They turned my boring day to a happy one, thanks for posting.

  15. camilla Byk

    We collect inspiring comments from the under 20s across the UK and create daily podcasts, I think you would love them
    Spread the word
    Think out loud


  16. Heather-Jane

    I wish there were more quotes from women.

  17. Daniel Ajumobi

    What do i say…? Such an inspiring collection. Working on my new NGO, i find this motivating. Pushing me to get up and do something without wasting time.

  18. Qaiser Mohiuddin

    The best single word to pay my tribute to these quotes is “BEAUTIFUL”

    • khan

      hi friends,
      mention all quotes are good, but we have to use/act them in real life.
      have a nice day 🙂

  19. Eunice

    hi, thank you for posting these wonderful quotes, really made my day. please continue adding more, coz you just dont know, there might be one of these quotes that can change one’s life, you’ll never know. Thanks again.

  20. Jennifer

    What an inspirational group of quotes. Makes me want to share them with my son, a millenial himself.

  21. Marsha Ingrao

    These are great quotes. I read an article from slideshare about making your presentations more powerful by embedding twitter into your presentations so that people could automatically tweet quotes as one way to add instant life and authority to your presentation. This page is a great source of good quotes! 🙂

  22. Micheollas

    Luv al d quotes…check mine: chase away mystery..cos u av chances of making History!

  23. Jen

    “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
    ~Mahatma Gandhi

    My fav as is anything Abraham Lincoln

  24. Nawal Siwakoti

    Wow its wonderful quotations i like it very very much~~~!!!

  25. ivan

    great stuff iam just looking for quotes that keep youth going and do good

  26. Jennifer Wolanski

    Love these!!!!

  27. Idongesit Tom

    It appears most effective to correct with inspirational quotes. I love them.

  28. Burrows

    Really inspiring and motivating. I love the collection big time!!!””””keep on en hoping to see some more'”,,,,

  29. carole mall

    THANK YOU!!!

  30. Cellen

    “Anyone can make a difference and everyone should try.” -JFK

  31. Susa

    Thank you..although this is an old post, just want to let you know its still a wonderful group of motivating quotes.

  32. Fass

    words of motivation and inspiration are food to the heart.. i like them all, thanks alot

  33. Tara

    Going through these quotes was a treat to the heart…….thank you for lighting up my whole being with these very inspiring lines……..I too love to jot down the lines that touch my heart and my most favourite one is ……

    When you are in a position to help somebody , just do it ,and say thanks to destiny for giving you a chance to answer somebody’s prayer.

  34. David

    “I know the price of success: dedication, hard work, and an unremitting devotion to the things you want to see happen” – Frank Lloyd Wright

    If something matters to you, don’t let go without a fight. For example, if you don’t like something, take action to change it until it appears as you want it.

  35. thuli

    that just touched me as young i am i fear on how my future will be but i try not to focus to much on it and also to live life “Do not be too timid and squeamish about your reactions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.”
    – Ralph Waldo Emerson


    Heart touching quotes… thanks a lot for sharing.

  37. David

    I love stumbling upon motivational quotes. You provide some great sources of inspiration. My favorite:
    “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.”
    -Thomas Edison

  38. Deal Harry

    I am so impressed with the collection of motivation messages from great men of wisdom. Especially former United States president. Barack Obama.


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