NonProfit Collaborative marks first year

Todd Cohen

The NonProfit Collaborative
The NonProfit Collaborative

ADVANCE, N.C. — After netting $4,691 on its annual year-end appeal in 2009, a fundraising effort that had a budget of roughly $2,000, the Adult Center for Enrichment in Greensboro hired a consulting firm to prepare a development “audit” and comprehensive fund-development plan.

Then, the nonprofit, which has a development staff consisting of only a half-time employee, hired The NonProfit Collaborative to review the development audit and fund-development plan and recommend how the group should spend its limited development budget.

The Advance-based NonProfit Collaborative, a cooperative group of nonprofit executives and consultants formed a year ago, advised the Adult Center to focus on its year-end-appeal, and to send different versions of the appeal letter based on the expected giving level of the donor.

That 2010 appeal netted roughly $11,000 from a single mailing.

“As an organization that is trying to expand its fundraising efforts, we found the NonProfit Collaborative very knowledgeable , accessible and affordable,” says Meghan Willis, development and program coordinator for the Adult Center, which now has the Nonprofit Collaborative on retainer.

With nine associates, the Collaborative worked with nine clients its first year, offering rates that are negotiable, and services that range from fundraising audits and comprehensive development plans to governance retreats, technology, communications, human capital, accounting and legal services.

Associates in the Collaborative also operate their own businesses or work for other employers, with the most active associates typically working five to eight hours a week for Collaborative clients.

Most of the group’s clients have been in the Triad and typically are referred to the Collaborative by the Guilford Nonprofit Consortium in Greensboro, HandsOn Northwest North Carolina in Winston-Salem, and Hispanics in Philanthropy, a national group with an office in Asheville.

After the Consortium conducted a “needs assessment” for Heartstrings Pregnancy & Infant Loss Support in Greensboro, for example, Mari Jo Turner, an associate at the Collaborative and president of the NC Triad Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, was named Heartstrings’ interim director of development, a position she has held for 10 months.

And while helping El Buen Pastor Latino Family Services in Winston-Salem create a comprehensive development plan, Michelle Speas of the Collaborative offered advice on an application the nonprofit was preparing for funding through a national competitive grant to provide parenting skills to local Hispanic families.

Specifically, she suggested ways that El Buen could explain its strategy for sustaining itself financially.

The group received a $50,000 grant from Houston-based Avance, and was the only organization in North Carolina to receive funding through the competition.

“We really wanted to help smaller to medium-sized nonprofits get the professional services they needed at a competitive rate,” says Speas, founder and president of the Collaborative and national partnership director for Africa Renewal Ministries in Uganda.

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