Westchester’s Nonprofit Leaders Sound Off

From left to right: Greg Maher of Leviticus 25:23 Alternative Fund, Inc., Alisa Kesten of Volunteer New York!, Seth Berman of Family Service Society of Yonkers and Maria Imperial of YWCA White Plains & Central Westchester.

If you think Westchester’s nonprofit CEOs have it easy—they can just focus on changing the world without worrying about the bottom line, right?—you haven’t spent much time in their corner offices. Last month, 20 chief executives and directors from an array of Westchester’s nonprofits came together to discuss the unique issues and challenges that affect the sector as part of Nonprofit Westchester’s CEO Affinity Group. (NPW’s mission is “to strengthen the capacity, impact and visibility of the nonprofit sector in Westchester County.”)

Much of the conversation centered on things that would be familiar to any business owner or C-suite exec: budgets, marketing, the importance of strategic planning, and fundraising (you’d call it sales). Joanna Straub, NPW’s executive director, gives us a recap of some of the meeting’s key takeaways, and what the sector is focused on currently:

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Nonprofit Westchester Executive Director Joanna Straub

The Sector’s Top Challenges: “Most government contracts haven’t had any increase to their funding to be able to cover the increased cost of doing business, putting a bigger strain on nonprofits to raise additional private funds…. [we also face] challenges around board member recruitment and engagement, as well as implementing the ever-increasing number of regulations such as those included in the Nonprofit Revitalization Act. “

Funding: “Funding is always a challenge for nonprofit organizations. [At the meeting,] we focused on how to tell your organization’s story while sharing the ways your nonprofit can craft the presentation and narrative to focus your board, staff, and funders on what’s important, and the impact they can have.”

Building a Board: “Board involvement is crucial, as is finding that balance between narrative and a good grasp of the fundamentals of the numbers.  There was also universal agreement that the group needed to meet regularly in order to share ideas and information.

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Want to know more about the business side of the nonprofit sector? Stay tuned for our Business of Nonprofits article in the Q4 issue of 914INC.

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