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What makes a charitable organization successful? A good number of nonprofit executives would love to know the answer to that question. And while I’m no expert analyst, I can say without hesitation that one of the key components is having a strong, dedicated volunteer force.

How do I know that? Let’s just say that a person learns a lot of things over coffee, lunches and after-dinner drinks. Many a fundraiser—be it a golf tournament, auction or fashion show—are mainly fueled by volunteers. It is their drive and dedication that translate to enthusiasm and engagement within the organization and beyond.

Take, for example, our Nonprofit Spotlight: Saint Louis Crisis Nursery. I’ve been fortunate enough to have been introduced to this organization and learn about its work to help troubled families. Now, for the third year in a row, we are partnering with the Nursery for this month’s Celebrity Waitresses’ and Waiters’ Night at Plaza Frontenac. (Read more about it on p. 26).

And you’ll never guess who introduced me to this top-notch organization: a volunteer named Roberta.