Member Spotlight: Sarah Edwards

Sarah Edwards

Executive Director
Simply Living

Q:        Tell us a little about your organization. Mission? Population you serve? What do you like most about working there?  

A:         Simply Living is entering its 25th year. The germination of the idea came when its founders were participating in Earth Day 1991 at Whetstone Park. People were expecting about 2,500, and instead 25,000 people showed up! Clearly it was time to create an organization that honored the Earth year round and Simply Living was created! Our vision has remained the same: Creating a compassionate and sustainable world through personal, community and cultural transformation.

The vision has remained the same, but how we work toward manifesting the vision has grown with the times as the interests of the community have changed: Simply Living is a largely volunteer, community organization celebrating and promoting sustainability and the power of localism through educational outreach and partnerships within our community. We connect people to learning opportunities that promote environmental, economic and social justice.

Always believing in the value of accessible education, our major initiative is Simply Living Sustainable U. We are taking a major step forward to optimize our efforts by creating a virtual hub that aggregates local courses, workshops and training opportunities related to environmental, social and economic justice. The campus is the community, the instructors are from the community and the learners are our neighbors, family, friends, and those who want to learn about and activate a sustainable lifestyle. (


Q:        How long have you been an AFP member, and what has your involvement been?

A:         I moved to Columbus in 2014 from a rural state whose entire population is smaller than the City of Columbus! One of the first people I met was a current board member of AFP. So, I have been a member since 2014. My involvement began with becoming a mentee of a terrific director of another small non-profit. He helped me learn the ropes of the City and introduced me to the AFP community.

Since then, I have been participating in the BeThe Cause campaign, which is a membership fundraiser the raises dollars for scholarships. I expect that my involvement will increase over time.


Q:        What do you consider the most valuable part of your AFP membership?

A:         So far, the most valuable part of being a member of AFP has been the educational component. The monthly lunch series has been very instructive on a number of levels, especially helping me to stay on top of the latest thinking in philanthropy and expanding my knowledge of the field in general. It has also provided an invaluable review of the basics. There was a 10-year hiatus in my career and I enrolled in the Fundamentals of Fundraising course. As the director of a small organization, it is not unusual to have to wear all the hats! AFP has helped me fill in the gaps.

I am also part of the Small Shop affinity group. This group is comprised of small non-profits that have many challenges in common. We brainstorm solutions or someone in the group has met with the same issue and can offer practical solutions that you might not have thought of. An added bonus: it is lively and there is always a healthy dose of laughter. A great networking opportunity!


Q:        How long have you been in fundraising, and how did you get into it?

A:         I began working for non-profits (equals fundraising!) as a grant writer. Believe it or not, I find the grant writing process rewarding. How often do you get to take a thought, develop it and see it through to the end? Of course it is always more fun when the effort results in a funded proposal! Thanks to AFP I am now learning to become a better fundraiser in general.


Q:        What is your favorite part about living/working in Columbus? Favorite Restaurant?

A:         My favorite part of living in Columbus is the vibrancy that is exhibited everywhere from community food gardens, to a lively arts and food scene, to a strong community of collaborative non-profits doing great work. I also like that rivers run through it which allows for kayaking, reverie and scenic walking.         


Q:        Tell us a fun fact about you that other AFP members wouldn’t know.

A:         I love swimming in biologically active ponds!


 Posted June 2016