Nonprofits LEAD is a locally specific, research based program at Marietta College that supports local nonprofits. Nonprofits LEAD grew out of a study of organizational capacity of nonprofit organizations in the Mid-Ohio Valley, completed by Dr. Tanya Judd Pucella at the McDonough Center in 2009.
With the support of the Sisters of St Joseph Charitable Fund (now the Sisters Health Foundation), Dr. Judd Pucella issued an extensive report, including recommendations to strengthen capacity of the regional nonprofit sector. Based on her findings, and in close consultation with SSJCF, the McDonough Center developed a regional capacity building program housed within the Office of Civic Engagement at Marietta College to identify, offer, and promote capacity building services for local nonprofits.
The program ran for two years (2010, 2011) as an AmeriCorps*VISTA project at Marietta College through Ohio Campus Compact, and for three additional years (2012, 2013, 2014) under a newly established Program Manager position. During this time, Nonprofits LEAD offered a variety of free and low-cost capacity building programs and services to more than 100 local nonprofits. Program activities included networking events, workshops, facilitation and consulting services, service-learning opportunities with college students and faculty, and an annual capacity building conference. Nonprofits LEAD also administered an annual scholarship program which awarded up to $500 to local organizations to attend capacity building workshops, conferences, or events of their choice.
The program’s budget, including staffing costs, was fully funded by a multiyear grant to Marietta College from SSJCF. Nonprofits LEAD was also heavily supported through in-kind contributions of the McDonough Center at Marietta College, which provided office space, supplies, and technology, and administrative support, along with program support and oversight from the Dean of the McDonough Center, Director of Civic Engagement, Academic Grants Officer, and other faculty and staff. Nonprofits LEAD is not, and has never been, an independent 501(c)3 organization. However, due to the community-focused nature of the program, an advisory council of funders, nonprofit professionals, consultants, and college faculty and staff was established. The group provided input and assisted in outreach.
In 2013 and 2014, as Nonprofits LEAD approached the end of its three-year grant, the program worked on building its own sustainability, including working with Ethos Leadership Group to conduct a program review, working with the advisory council to establish a sustainability committee, and convening a collaborative group of local funders willing to consider investing in the program’s continuation.
In 2015, the Sisters Health Foundation, the McDonough Foundation, the Ross Foundation, the Marietta Community Foundation, and the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation came together to fund the program for an additional year. The Sisters Health Foundation, McDonough Foundation, Marietta Community Foundation, and Parkersburg Area Community Foundation each made an additional (reduced) commitment for a second year, ensuring the programs continuation through June of 2017. During this time, Nonprofits LEAD is developing additional funding sources and a long-term revenue strategy, as well as investing in development and documentation of its program model, to ensure that the foundations’ support will leverage impact well beyond the two-year funding period. Ongoing Sustainability discussions have involved current funders, nonprofit leaders, college faculty and staff, and partnering organizations, such as the West Virginia Nonprofit Association.
As Nonprofits LEAD moves into the next phase of its work, the goal is to develop and implement a set of programs based on experience and informed by research on best practices and innovative models. All programs directly support the organizational mission: to build a strong, sustainable nonprofit community in the Mid-Ohio Valley in which every organization is able to effectively and efficiently achieve its mission, and helps move toward the vision Nonprofits LEAD--for every nonprofit to have the tools, resources, knowledge, and support they need to meet the needs of their community.