The Nonprofit Committee of New York (NPCC) held its Annual Meeting of Members on Monday, May 15, 2017 at the CUNY Graduate Center, Proshansky Auditorium with 231 members, sponsors and honored guests in attendance.
Ian Benjamin, in his third address as NPCC’s Board Chair, opened the meeting by welcoming attendees and thanking event sponsors. Ian also previewed the announcement of NPCC’s 2018-2020 Strategic Plan, which will allow us to continue to strengthen members and the sector, while also bringing us back to its roots of being a vocal and active advocate for New York nonprofits. He assured members that NPCC will continue to support their work and help them best serve the needs of their communities.
Charlene Laniewski, Board Treasurer, reported on the finances for NPCC’s Fiscal Year 2016 (October 1, 2015 – September 30, 2016). NPCC received an unqualified opinion on our financial statements from our independent auditor. Having maintained a strong balance sheet and sustained a reserve to cover 8.7 months of operating expenses, NPCC continues to be financially sound. NPCC’s full financial statements are available here.
Merble Reagon, Board Secretary, led the annual Board election. A motion was forwarded, seconded, and a hand vote was conducted amongst members in good standing to re-elect eight individuals to the NPCC Board. NPCC’s full Board of Directors is listed here.
INTRODUCTION TO STRATEGIC PLANNING
Rachael Pine, Senior Program Officer of Health at the Altman Foundation, spoke eloquently about the importance of strategic planning to nonprofit management. The Altman Foundation was a gracious supporter of NPCC’s strategic planning process. Rachael explained that strategic planning is about two things: strategic thinking that allows organizations to create reality-based goals and a structured process of arriving at a plan that offers an organization a path going forward. She acknowledged that although strategic planning sometimes has a bad reputation, it is necessary for organizations to be able to impact their communities and constituents. From her perspective as a funder, strategic planning indicates an organization’s commitment to intentionality, and shows that an organization has a clear theory of change linking programs and services to results and impact: “it is hard to keep your eye on the prize if you haven’t identified the prize you seek.”
NEW MISSION STATEMENT & 2018-2020 STRATEGIC PLAN
NPCC President, Sharon Stapel, announced NPCC’s new mission statement: NPCC helps New York nonprofits thrive to build better communities for all. She then announced how NPCC will achieve this mission through three main strategic goals:
- Member Building: NPCC member nonprofits are strong and better positioned to achieve their missions and engage in a movement to better serve their communities
- Movement Building: Strong New York nonprofits are engaged in building a movement to better serve communities and constituents.
- A Stronger NPCC: NPCC is an agile, innovative, and sustainable organization.
Sharon explained that the first year of NPCC’s strategic plan, which begins on October 1, 2017, will be one of planning across the organization, with significant improvements made on existing programs and the launch of the movement-building work. Through this plan, NPCC aims to make New York a place where nonprofits can operate successfully and have what they need to carry out their missions. The full executive summary of the 2018-2020 Strategic Plan is available here.
Building Members and Building Movements: Nonprofits As Agents of Change
Doug Bauer, Executive Director of The Clark Foundation, moderated a fascinating conversation with panelists Michelle Henry (JPMorgan Chase & Co), Jarrett Lucas (Stonewall Community Foundation), Anthonine Pierre (Brooklyn Movement Center) and Maggie Williams (The Advocacy Institute). Doug provided a framework for the discussion by first defining three relevant terms:
- Advocacy: Identifying, embracing, and promoting a cause. May influence public opinion and public policy.
- Legislative advocacy: Lobbying and other activities, such as media advocacy, education, and grassroots organizing.
- Lobbying: Stating a position on specific legislation to legislators and/or asking them to support your position. Lobbying is classified as direct or grassroots.
The conversation revolved around core questions about the importance of policy and advocacy to nonprofits’ success and the ways that organizations can plan and pay for this work. The dynamic discussion realized the following takeaways:
- Policy matters to nonprofits because it has real consequences on our causes and constituents. The role of nonprofits is to think about pressure points in our communities and what we can do to ease these pressures. This alleviation often involves a policy change.
- As mission-driven organizations, nonprofits should be able to evaluate a policy’s alignment with mission as either: a win, a threat with indirect negative impact, a serious problem with direct negative impact, or a possible opportunity; and be able to handle the policy accordingly.
- In the current climate, so much of organizing feels like marching. But that is just one piece of a legislative campaign, which typically involves the following steps:
- Identifying the problem
- Researching your issue and getting input from your Board, staff, and constituents.
- Potentially connecting with a like-minded coalitions to learn the landscape
- Assessing your organization’s goals and capacity.
- The biggest cost of legislative advocacy is staff time. It is important to think realistically about the campaign’s time frame, build a long-term budget, and assess staff capacity before beginning.
- Initiating the campaign
- Marking small victories
- Legislative advocacy can take many years, so it is important to celebrate smaller wins and be able to express these to funders.
- Lobbyists can be helpful, but some organizations may prefer to do their own research to build institutional memory and brand.
- In coalitions, it is important to be open and upfront about expectations and decide beforehand what your organization is willing to give up and what you’re not.
- The nonprofit sector has the ability to give a voice to the important issues. As we face an uncertain political climate, it will be important for all of us to “speak up and out” about and for the communities that we care about.
For more information on the meeting, please read New York Nonprofit Media’s article by clicking here.
To view photographs from the event, click here.