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Delaware Nonprofits: Endless Discoveries
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DANA's new President and CEO Sheila Bravo reflects on her discovery of DANA and the nonprofit sector in Delaware.

 

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Investing in Leaders

Posted By Sheila Bravo, Wednesday, November 4, 2015

It’s that time of year! Many nonprofits are going through their budget process right now.  Often, in addition to an income/expense budget and cash flow, nonprofits with fixed assets also develop budgets for facility repair and maintenance.  Too often though, nonprofits forget a very important asset that requires the same type of care and planning for future needs – human resources. 

What percent of your budget is dedicated to professional development?  Do all staff have professional development plans?   How does the Board evaluate compensation and development for the Executive Director, and how often is that reviewed?

Unfortunately, these questions are often not in the budget planning discussions.  I don’t think that it is because Boards and nonprofit leadership don’t care about professional development. Rather, most likely because this is considered discretionary.  At times when funding is tight and choices are made, giving up on training staff seems to make sense.  Perhaps this is true in the short-term, but in the long-term it has significant consequences.   Investing in training for staff is critical to long-term sustainability of a nonprofit organization. Otherwise, where will the next leaders of nonprofits come from?

A recent study completed by Third Sector New England studied nonprofit leadership issues in that region. One of the greatest concerns was leadership development and succession planning.  The study went as far as stating that the nonprofit sector is undercapitalized, with a high percent of long-term talented people and a lower than average pay scale. Retirements will create a deficit in thought-leadership and an increase in operating expense.   

I am hearing the same thing here in Delaware.  Many financially strong nonprofits have benefited from the longevity of their leaders – some of whom have grown their organizations 10-fold over the 20+ years in which they have led the nonprofit.   Who will be taking their place when they retire?  What skills will be necessary for a new leader to take the reigns?  And how are the organizational culture, board practices, and operations tied to the personality of the leader? 

If the board and leadership are not asking these questions now, they should.  The Nonprofit Finance Fund’s 2015 State of the Sector report indicated that less than half (39%) of Delaware nonprofits surveyed provide professional development training for staff.   And even fewer (28%) have tackled leadership succession.  Most nonprofits rely on people, their skills, and their thinking to create sustainable value to the community.  Without investing in those areas, how will nonprofits compete for talent and resources in the future? 

Did you know: DANA has 2 more courses left for the year! Check out our training calendar by clicking here, and join us!

Infrastructure, such as buildings and technologies, over time need care and investment for them to meet the current needs of nonprofit services.   The many talented people who work tirelessly in your organizations need the same.  If you are concerned about funding, then it’s time to speak with your top donors and funders who value your people and the great work they do for the organization. 

There are many sources of training out there.  DANA training begins at $40 for members, and we offer online as well as in-class experiences.   Whatever the professional development need is, don’t delay in investing. Good, talented people who have created the value your organization offers to the community are not easy to replace. Why not build the next generation of leaders within your nonprofit organization so that it can thrive in the long-term.

Sheila

Tags:  budget  Delaware  leaders  nonprofits  succession planning 

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Connections

Posted By Sheila Bravo, Thursday, September 24, 2015

One of the wonderful things about Delaware is how everyone seems to know someone that you know. Delawareans, from my experience, are welcoming and very helpful. I have received many welcome notes from fellow nonprofit leaders, and have been invited to networking breakfast and lunch meetings. These get-togethers provide a nonprofit leader with sage advice from more seasoned Executives. This can lead to other phone calls for counsel, and in turn, even build friendships. I experienced this in my last role at the Rehoboth Art League, and am glad to find it here at DANA, as well. 

In my visits with nonprofit leaders up and down the state, I have met some who are relatively new to the sector, and even to Delaware. They do not yet have that network to rely upon. They may not know who to call or where to go. Our strong informal network is not open to them yet. One fairly new ED mentioned to me that he is being asked to collaborate, but he doesn't know who to collaborate with.  It all goes back to these connections. Collaboration doesn't just happen. It is a process in which conversations take place and trust is built. Only then can a successful collaborative initiative take place.

Did you know: One of the perks of DANA membership is an invitation to our free, exclusive Member-Only Winter Reception. Every year, we draw in about 100 passionate nonprofit people to connect with each other and celebrate all that the nonprofit sector accomplished throughout the year. If you’re not a DANA member yet, click here to learn more, or call us at 302-777-5500. We’d love to meet you!

DANA can help nonprofits make connections. We receive calls nearly every day with questions on 'who does what.' For folks who wish to start up a new nonprofit - or already have - we offer suggestions on who they can reach out to in their respective mission area. Our member reception, which is held annually in December, is a fun way to connect with fellow nonprofit leaders. DANA’s annual conference and training sessions can also be an additional means to make new connections.

Working together first starts with getting to know each other. I encourage established nonprofit leaders to reach out and say hello to a new leader, and for new leaders to reach out and say hello to their fellow nonprofits down the street, whether you have like-missions or not. Who knows what exciting things may happen!

 

Tags:  CEO  collaboration  Delaware  leaders  nonprofits 

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