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Grantee Spotlight: Nonprofit Alliance

The Nonprofit Alliance delivers knowledge and tools to help area nonprofits enhance the quality of life in Battle Creek by providing area nonprofit organizations hands-on, face-to-face opportunities to hone their skills, think about the issues they face in fresh ways, and increase the results of their work. “Nonprofits are an essential part of the fabric of the Battle Creek community,” says Cathy Lucas, executive director of Nonprofit Alliance. “Nonprofit Alliance, in partnership with local philanthropic organizations, is supporting these organizations with what they need to be sustainable, improve the results of their programs, and make the best use of the resources within this community.”

Why do this?

According to Lucas, the corporate sector has long invested in its infrastructure – the core capabilities and processes companies use to make profits. “While nonprofits invest most of their money in programs, it’s also important for these organizations to invest in themselves,” says Lucas. “Businesses do it to get themselves in shape to make a profit. Nonprofits need to do it to get into shape for achieving their missions – and improving quality of life.”

Within the nonprofit sector, this work is sometimes called “capacity building.” The idea, says Lucas, is “building a better organization to get better results.  An organization’s ability to affect change is directly related to its capacity.”

What’s happened so far?

In 2005, the Kellogg Foundation awarded the Nonprofit Alliance a Yes we can! Planning Grant. With this funding, the Nonprofit Alliance has gathered input from area nonprofits on their needs, researched effective practices, and worked with consultants and area philanthropic organizations to develop the following expanded resources for the local nonprofit community:

  • Assessments and capacity plans – tools and processes that help nonprofits assess and prioritize their needs so they have a map from where they are currently to a realization of their vision.

  • Quarterly trainings  – hands-on learning sessions with national experts around key issues nonprofits face. The first year, topics include Coping with Cutbacks, Collaboration, Mission-Based Management and Leadership, and Financial Management.  This series is offered in partnership with Fieldstone Alliance—a national nonprofit resource based in St. Paul, Minnesota, that offers nonprofit consulting and training in community and organization improvement.

  • Round tables – quarterly opportunities for nonprofit executive directors to network and share knowledge and resources.

  • Consultant network – training, standards and peer feedback opportunities for an expanding and diverse group of local and regional nonprofit consultants to assist nonprofit organizations in meeting their identified needs.

  • Executive leadership training – monthly sessions for Yes we can! grantees coordinated by published nonprofit leadership expert Dr. John Tropman of the University of Michigan.  Topics focus on issues relevant to the key values of Ywc! such as the executive leader’s role in addressing issues of institutional and structural racism.

How does it work?

By taking advantage of the opportunities above, and others offered by the Nonprofit Alliance, Battle Creek-area nonprofits can grow stronger and achieve greater results resulting in:

  • Increased effectiveness, resilience, and sustainability

  • Improved ability to identify and achieve community outcomes

  • Driven by a meaningful mission

  • Effective use of resources

  • Reflect and involve the communities served

How can we get involved?

Learn more or sign up for a Nonprofit Alliance opportunity by contacting Teri at 269.968.8166, ext. 593 or teri@nonprofitalliance.org.

Nonprofit Alliance partners are Battle Creek Community Foundation, Miller Foundation, United Way of Greater Battle Creek, and W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

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