Archive for July, 2012

Monmouth County Historical Association seeks new Director

Monmouth County Historical Association is searching for a new Director.  Click here for the full position description.  The Association’s mission is to collect, preserve, and interpret its extensive museum, library, and archival collections that relate to Monmouth County’s history and culture and makes these resources available to the widest possible audience.

Monmouth County Historical Association retained the Support Center to provide Executive Search and Transition Management services and the placement of an Interim Executive Director.


Don’t Just Scale, Retrofit!

In two recent posts from the Stanford Social Innovation Review, John Brothers, Senior Fellow at the Support Center, reacts to the concept of “scaling” proposing that the nonprofit sector focus more on “retrofitting”, or updating old or outdated processes or structures, rather than focusing on scaling. Scaling, in John’s opinion, only applies to a small number of nonprofits who are ready to take on the challenge. In contrast, retrofitting can be used by a much larger group of small to medium-sized organizations to increase their effectiveness and impact on their constituents. We’d love to hear your thoughts, please leave a comment.

Categories: Hot Topics, John Brothers

Mergers, Strategic Alliances, and Collaborations: Six Ingredients for Success

Message from Don Crocker, CEO of the Support Center

Once a prohibited utterance in the nonprofit sector – The “M” word (Mergers), is not only becoming more common in conversation, but is also something we are learning more about.  Groups such as the James Irvine Foundation, BoardSource, La Piana Consulting, and others have expanded on early experiences to understand more about strategic restructuring – including mergers, strategic alliances, and collaborations – to enable our sector to embrace options for change.

Why are we now more open to such conversation?  An uncertain and volatile economy, the competitive funding environment, and dramatic cuts in government funding are upon us. The confluence of these trends are spurring a growing number of nonprofits to examine the potential of strategic alliances or mergers with other nonprofits to strengthen their organization’s impact, to sustain critical services to their constituents, or sometimes in more dire circumstances, as the best means of survival!

Although new alliances are taking shape, the conditions for success are often not reviewed.  Those who are helping with organizational assessment and restructuring (like the Support Center, La Piana Consulting, and others) know–from the nonprofits and funders we work with–that there are key predictors of success that go beyond the obvious criteria of a good fit between the two organizations’ programming.  Some of these ingredients include:

  1. Trust. There must be a high degree of trust among both organizations’ leadership–if the leaders do not trust each other, the talks can fall apart quickly.
  2. Prior Experience. When the two organizations have had success in collaborating with one another in the past there will be a higher likelihood that a merger will work.
  3. Communication. Continuous clear and honest communication and openness between the partners is key– the opposite is a real red flag.
  4. Teamwork. If there are strong staff teams that can manage the process, they can play a big role in making a merger or strategic alliance successful–it can make all the difference.
  5. Involve Key Donors. If you have funders who are committed to your organization, don’t be afraid to talk to them about what is not working well. They often can be your best partners in supporting and guiding you towards a new path for your organization.
  6. Don’t Go it Alone. Get competent assistance in the process.  Not just from a consultant who has experience with nonprofit alliances and mergers, but also from the other professionals you may need, such as legal and marketing assistance, etc.

In the current environment, discussing the “M” word and examining restructuring options needs to be a basic element of every organization’s regular assessment and strategic planning process.  As the leaders of nonprofit organizations, we owe it to our clients and the communities we serve.  Please share your thoughts, learning, and experiences with us.

Custom Training for Your Staff, Board, or Grantees

Custom Training at the Support Center brings our expertise to you, the way you want it. We offer a diverse selection of workshops customized to meet the unique needs of your staff, board, grantees or member agencies.  Benefits include:

  • Team building. Training together can build consensus among teams or departments.  Participants who learn together can support one another in problem-solving and decision-making.
  • Increased job satisfaction.  Send a message to your staff that you are willing to invest in their success as nonprofit professionals and enhance the culture of your workplace.
  • Targeted outcomes.  You get to work with the consultant in shaping the content of the workshop(s) to ensure that the outcomes match your goals.
  • More for your money.  We can train up to 30 participants at a fraction of what it would cost to send them to public trainings.

All workshops are facilitated by experts in their fields, and are interactive and participatory in nature.  We use adult learning techniques such as interactive exercises, role-play, and case studies, to maximize the likelihood of significant skill transfer and to increase the benefit to the participants and your organization.  The sessions also tap into the experience and wisdom that is brought to the workshops by the participants, enabling significant peer learning within the workshop process.

For more information about the Support Center’s Custom Training program, contact Janice L. Shapiro, Director of Professional Development, at 917-522-8302 or

A Summit Grows in Brooklyn

Notes from the field from Dart Westphal, Senior Associate at the Support Center

The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce hosted its first-ever Nonprofit Summit just a few weeks ago in June. As an attendee and speaker, and as a supporter (that is, the Support Center as a supporter!), I was energized by the dynamic nonprofit professionals I met, the conversations in the halls, and sessions I participated in. Through those interactions, a few clear trending themes emerged:

•   The first is how eager nonprofit leaders are to learn with their peers. The organizers were originally hoping for 100 attendees for this inaugural effort, but three times that many people were there. The sessions on leadership, one that I was honored to be a part of, and the sessions on fund raising and partnership with boards were uniformly excellent (present company excluded of course). But beyond that, the attendees were clearly energized to be among friends and colleagues, away from the daily grind, but still serving their organizations.

•   Secondly, change is constant, but sometimes it’s a bit more urgent. Now is one of those times. Greater scrutiny from everywhere, more work for boards of directors and more demands from strapped funders have all hit us at once.  Nonprofit leaders want to do the right thing, but what the right thing is differs among funders and other decision makers. Such a situation makes peer interaction more important than ever.

•  Thirdly, we need to do a better job as a sector making sure the general population knows how important the nonprofit world is. And I am not just talking about the world of the 501(c)(3) “charitable” sector. I mean the whole part of the economy that is mission rather than profit driven. That includes coops, and fraternal organizations, and credit unions and membership associations. Some people still don’t really understand who we are and what we do. The people who do this work need to be understood and appreciated in a new way. We are not just providing a nice ‘extra’ or a good deed outside the mainstream of doing ‘business’. Nonprofits are as much a part of the way the country works as General Motors. It’s just that they exist for the sake of a mission, not for profit!

The hunger for networking and learning was clear. Hopefully these nonprofits and others like them, and their funders, will continue to provide opportunities that foster learning and “growing” among nonprofit professionals on the front lines!

Venture Philanthropy Fund and Women’s Sports Foundation

Venture Philanthropy Fund

The NYC Venture Philanthropy Fund (VPF) is a giving circle of individuals who combine their professional skills and financial contributions to support local social entrepreneurs in New York City. In 2012 VPF members voted to support unique, innovative ideas that address the arts in New York City, and they invite arts organizations with budgets under $500,000 to submit proposals for funding consideration. The one-year grant for the 2013 calendar year includes a $6,000 operational cash grant, in-kind technical assistance from VPF members and partners, and access to professional networks including, but not limited to, consulting services, donors and funding, and expanded constituencies. The deadline for applications is August 31st, 2012. For more information, please click here.

Women’s Sports Foundation

The Women’s Sports Foundation is seeking proposals for its GoGirlGO! program. GoGirlGo! grants provide funding for sports/physical activity programs for girls, particularly in underserved communities, ages 5-18 in New York City. Grants of between $1,000 – $5,000 will be provided to programs that combine athletic instruction with the delivery of the GoGirlGo! curriculum. The deadline for applications is July 31st, 2012. For more information, please click here.

Categories: RFP

Nonprofit Coordinating Committee of NY’s (NPCC) 2012 Employee Benefits Survey

If you’ve ever wondered what benefits to offer your employees or how you compare to other groups, you probably turned to NPCC’s Employee Benefits survey results. NPCC’s tri-annual survey of benefits offered to nonprofit employees is an incredibly important and useful tool for nonprofit executives. If your organization has paid employees, your participation in the 2012 survey will help accurately represent what benefits nonprofits offer their employees. Please help NPCC help your organization and all New York nonprofits by completing the survey here. Surveys must be sent by July 27th. Include your email address so that you will receive a copy when the survey is published.  If you have questions contact Dan Myers ( or Marcia Brown(

Categories: Hot Topics