We were deeply saddened to hear about the passing of celebrated poet Maya Angelou, who died yesterday at the age of 86. And although she leaves behind a broad and diverse collection of poems, essays and other works, she was far more than a writer. She was an activist, philanthropist and an amazing human being.

Maya Angelou’s works were broad, diverse, honest and uplifting. Below are some of our favorite Maya Angelou quotations that have inspired us during our quest to do good in the world. We think her words can be an inspiration for nonprofit professionals (and everyone, really) as they strive to make this world a better place.


“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.”


“Nothing will work unless you do.”


“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor and some style.”


“Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.”


“I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way (s)he handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage and tangled Christmas tree lights.” 


“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”


Image via MayaAngelou.com