Little Things Play Big Roles

It’s the little things.

I’ve often worked with large organizations and dealt with many complicated, political, messy and complex systems. Understanding what works best in those environments can take time. Just when you think you are making headway, leadership can change or the external environment shifts. It’s dynamic and constant—and I am only looking in from the outside.

I have learned that the little things – the small or discretionary grant dollars, incentives for staff, stipends for volunteers and opportunities to learn – can often unlock bigger things like successfully implementing a new program, advocating for policy change or landing a federal grant. The little things can also speak to what is equitable and required to succeed.

These little things are sometimes unpredictable. They don’t always fit neatly into someone’s job, hours in a day or an existing grant. They pop up like little threats or lights at the end of the tunnel. They are lessons learned or insights gained after the grant starts, but before outcomes are achieved. They are sometimes simply the cost of doing business. Last year, we at Saint Luke’s Foundation funded many little things, including the search for a new CEO, gym equipment and bicycles, university fellows, consultant time and several opportunities to plan or bridge to a new opportunity.

What I have learned is how important – really how critical – those little things are.

Heather Torok

Senior Program Officer for Healthy People

Better Health Partnership

Operating and Capacity Building Support



Greater Cleveland Food Bank

Nutrition Initiative