By Karen Locklear and Eileen Connoly-Keesler
The Center for Nonprofit Excellence, established at the Community Foundation of Collier County in 1997, moves to Hodges University on July 1.
The foundation awarded a three-year grant to Hodges, totaling $150,000, to help establish the training program at the university.
Over the past decade the sector of non-profit organizations has been growing and has become more vital to the community. Currently there are over 500 non-profit, charitable and fundraising organizations registered in Collier and Lee counties.
Their dedication and creativity is truly impressive.
In order to strengthen the excellence of these nonprofits, we must connect them with high-quality resources, building leadership and helping them thrive in today’s economy.
The genesis of Hodges’ involvement in a Center for Nonprofit Excellence (CNE) goes back to 2010, the year Jerry Nichols, and his late wife, Arlene, first named the Hodges University School for Professional Studies.
As an honored humanitarian, Jerry Nichols has been very active in our community supporting a variety of charities and truly exemplifies the spirit of charitable service. One of the areas he encouraged the university to focus on is in philanthropic studies and how the institution, based on its own community involvement, could better serve the needs of local non-profits.
Members of the Nichols School of Professional Studies Advisory Board discussed the need and benefit of additional training for community professionals during a meeting in 2011. After an extensive needs assessment study conducted with the cooperation of the Community Foundation, it was concluded that a partnership between the Hodges and the foundation would fit well with the foundation’s objective of non-profit capacity-building.
While the Center for Non-profit Excellence moves to Hodges, the foundation’s support of non-profit organizations will not waiver. In July a new grant cycle will be launched for needed community programs as well as continued funding for capacity-building grants. The new funding programs will be available on the new Community Foundation website through a new grant application called iGAM, also launching in July. Vice president of grantmaking at the Community Foundation, Mary George, will be hosting seminars to go over the process beginning in June.
Both organizations are held in high esteem by the community and both provide excellent programs and services. By combining efforts they can capitalize on the excellent services of the CNE and enhance the programming through the educational expertise of Hodges. Distance learning, certificate programs, expanded areas of study and access to higher educational opportunities are possible.
The partnership not only ensures the growth and longevity of the CNE program, but it allows the Community Foundation to focus on building assets and increasing grants towards community programs and non-profit organizations.
The Community Foundation also stresses the importance of agency endowment-building. There is no other funding vehicle more important in securing an agency’s permanency than an endowment fund. We hope to touch all of the local non-profits with this information and opportunity.
By enhancing the governance, management and operations of non-profit organizations in Southwest Florida, non-profits in our community will be strengthened. This partnership will help to increase the effectiveness of the center and will extend the knowledge base of nonprofits throughout the area.