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Nonprofits seek to name ‘awareness’ month

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By Elizabeth Floyd

If a group of North Carolina nonprofit professionals get their way, November will be named Nonprofit Awareness Month and a series of events will be held to educate the public about the importance of the sector.

The N.C. Center for Nonprofits announced the plan to about 120 people gathered for the group’s annual Public Policy Forum, held in Raleigh March 2.

The idea comes from four North Carolinians who served as delegates to the first-ever Nonprofit Congress, which took place last October in Washington D.C.

Through a series of local and statewide events during the month, organizers hope not only to increase public backing for the diverse group of nonprofits in North Carolina, but also to increase cooperation within the sector.

“In order for us to win, we all have to be on the same team,” said Tharesa Lee, one of the delegates and the nonprofit coordinator for the Neuse River Community Development Corporation in New Bern.  “We’ve got to drop the competition.”

Organizing efforts have been modeled on a grassroots coalition, says Trisha Lester, vice president of the center.

The center will serve as the catalyst, with individual communities having free rein to choose the sorts of activities they decide to incorporate into the awareness month, she says.

A tool kit to be made available through the center’s website, and ambassadors recruited through center conferences and workshops, will help local nonprofits conceptualize their participation in the statewide endeavor.

Organizers plan to make a “virtual shutdown” part of November’s activities.

“We want to demonstrate in a very real, tangible way what would happen if nonprofits weren’t in North Carolina,” says Sally Migliore, a senior associate at the center.

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