Hosted by Community Foundation annually, NonProfit University (NPU) is formulated specifically with non-profits, their leaders, their volunteers, their supporters, and their beneficiaries in mind. It provides an excellent opportunity for participants in non-profits from all over the community to come together to learn and strengthen each other.
Huntsville is full of generous people. There really does seem to be a cause for everyone and even our mayor boasts that there is one non-profit per every 350 residents in Madison County. But for an individual wanting to create or expand their service organization, it can be challenging to find a way to start. That’s where NonProfit University comes in.
NonProfit University is the brainchild of the Community Foundation. NPU helps service organizations better connect and develop a philanthropic community with each other. At this year’s event in the Von Braun Center North Hall, the room swirled with the faces of organizers from many local organizations, some well known and some less familiar. An excited chatter filled the air as participants were handed their information packets and eagerly examined nametags, anxious to network and learn.
So much to learn
NonProfit University developed educational sessions to address the many concerns that service organizations routinely struggle with, and tailored each to include appropriate tracks for larger and smaller organizations. These sessions contained a wealth of information to help nonprofits grow and thrive.
In particular, some of the topics tackled organization, the importance of assigning a project lead when dealing with partners, the importance of asking questions, tips on keeping volunteers happy and engaged, looking for companies that provide discounts to non-profits (such as Adobe), and more.
When dealing with partners or multiple teams, NPU advised non-profits to assign a point of reference, a project lead. Equally important, the project lead must be someone who will make and stick with his or her decisions and communicate those decisions to the rest of the team. It all boils down to good communication.
Communication is vital for a nonprofit, and asking probing questions plays a part in this process. Being inquisitive and asking questions shows engagement, a willingness to learn, and can prevent organizations from making mistakes.
As every nonprofit knows, keeping volunteers happy can be a challenge. Every volunteer is different and needs to be appreciated in kind depending upon personality and generational viewpoints. NPU advises organizations to recognize a volunteer’s engagement and achievements through personal notes, a birthday card, or a shout out on social media.
These lessons, along with those given by the keynote speaker, Joe Garecht, will remain in the minds of the attendees for years to come. Many planned to put the lessons to use the very next workday, taking Mr. Garecht’s advice to turn “I wish” into “I will.”
- United Way’s Volunteer Center(Madison County) board
- UAH’s Volunteer Charger
- Corporate Giving Network
- The Grant Station
Check the Community Foundation’s website for future postings on next year’s NonProfit University!