Three agencies honored with 2013 Nonprofit Sector Stewardship Award

Jill Warren Lucas

The N.C. Center for Nonprofits today announced the recipients of its 2013 Nonprofit Sector Stewardship Award winners. Honorees include the Carolina Tiger Rescue of Pittsboro, Down East Partnership for Children of Rocky Mount and the Literacy Council of Buncombe County of Asheville.

Representatives of the three nonprofits accepted the awards during the Center’s annual statewide conference, which continues through Friday at the Concord Convention Center. The awards recognize nonprofits that use exemplary practices in their stewardship of the community’s trust and resources.

The awards are sponsored by Prudential Financial Inc., which provides winners with $500 to invest in professional development for the board and staff.

Center President Jane Kendall credits Carolina Tiger Rescue for rehabilitating wild animals, many of which have been rescued from appalling conditions.

“It also rescues and reuses millions of pounds of materials that otherwise would go to local landfills,” she says, adding the creative nonprofit “focuses on extraordinary conservation of natural, human and financial resources. They do this by collaborating with just about everybody in Chatham and surrounding counties.”

Collaboration with farmers, businesses and other nonprofits has helped Carolina Tiger Rescue provide a safe environment and proper diet for animals in its care, as well as repurpose materials deemed obsolete by owners. For example, refrigerators and freezers no longer needed by the PNC Arena in Raleigh now function in a new freezer storage building.

“In-kind support allows us to tighten our annual operating budget and operate debt-free for all of our property and equipment,” says Pam Fulk, executive director of Carolina Tiger Rescue.

The Down East Partnership for Children was selected for its thoughtful management of a $1.5 million cut in state allocations that required reduction in staff and services.

“DEPC offers a model of a nonprofit that converts a potentially devastating challenge into an opportunity to strengthen its organization and its impact,” says Kendall. “It shows how nimble and strategic nonprofits are when they focus on commitment to their mission.”

Board members stepped up to raise funds, and advocates were recruited to persuade local elected officials and business leaders in Nash and Edgecombe counties to sign a “Pledge to Protect NC Children.” The response was extraordinary, and community engagement continues to create opportunities to provide resources for in-need children.

“Our community built the Down East Partnership for Children out of nothing,” says Henrietta Zalkind, executive director of DEPC. “Now it’s a national model. Leadership is what lasts.”

Kendall says the Literacy Council of Buncombe County was chosen “for showing how a nonprofit board should step up when there is a change in the chief staff executive. With two-thirds of nonprofit executives retiring or leaving in the next five years, every nonprofit needs a succession plan and an emergency back-up plan.”

Instead of rushing into a decision, the Literacy Council hired one of its board members as interim executive director for six months. Bill Bogdan resigned from the board during this time, during which a comprehensive strategic plan was develop to guide the group’s future. A member of the Literacy Council’s staff, Ashley Lasher, was selected for the permanent position.

The Council also was recognized for good practices, including a conflict-of-interest policy that covers all board and staff and an annual evaluation of the executive director’s performance. Additionally, it annually conducts an independent financial audit.

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