DAVID HIRSCH chats on Oct. 25 with Diana Aviv, president and CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based Independent Sector, prior to a luncheon hosted by the Grantmakers Council of Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Foundation’s Initiative for Nonprofit Excellence to mark their 10th and 5th anniversaries, respectively. Aviv, appointed by President Obama to the White House Council for Community Solutions, was the event’s keynote speaker at the Providence Marriott Downtown event. Hirsch and his wife Hope created the endowment at the Foundation that funds the INE’s work.
PROVIDENCE – Two organizations dedicated to building the capacity of the state’s nonprofit sector marked major milestones at a ceremony last month.
The Grantmakers Council of Rhode Island began work in 2003 and The Rhode Island Foundation rolled out its Initiative for Nonprofit Excellence in 2008.
The two groups marked their anniversaries Oct. 25 at the Providence Marriott Downtown by bringing in a nationally known speaker to keynote a luncheon for more than 140 leaders of Rhode Island’s philanthropic and nonprofit sectors.
Appointed by President Barack Obama to the White House Council for Community Solutions, Diana Aviv, president and CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based Independent Sector, frequently speaks on issues and trends affecting the nonprofit sector.
Nonprofits must be constantly adapting, she said, advising the audience to set aside time for dreaming and repositioning and rethinking their role. The difference between a stumbling block and a stepping stone is how you approach it, she said.
Aviv does see challenges ahead, warning nonprofits that they must adapt to demographic changes including the coming of age of so-called Millennial was well as the nation’s growing racial and ethnic diversity. Young people, she says, do not have the connection to nonprofits that Baby Boomers or Gen X do. They are inspired by causes, not organizations.
But in facing those challenges, nonprofits do have four things going for them, Aviv said. The sector has a strong financial platform, public trust, legacy of achievement and a work force inspired by service.
The GCRI is a membership organization of private, community and corporate foundations, corporation giving programs, and individuals with organized grantmaking programs or charitable endowments, works to educate and inform individuals engaged in organized philanthropy in Rhode Island. GCRI member organizations contributed over 125,000 volunteer hours and almost $50 million to the community in 2012.
“Over the years, we’ve initiated funding ‘collaboratives’ that enable our members to leverage their resources in order to increase their philanthropic impact, helped funders to connect with their peers and provided funders with a unique opportunity to share a vision for learning and working together,” said Susan Neupauer, the GCRI’s executive director.
The Foundation launched INE in 2008 to build the capacity of nonprofit organizations to respond to the needs of their communities. In November alone, INE will offer four workshops ranging from identifying new revenue sources to organizational development.
In the past five years, more than 1,800 individuals representing more than 700 nonprofits have participated in INE programs. More than 90 percent say the content addressed key issues they face as nonprofit staff or board members.
“Our mission is to strengthen Rhode Island’s nonprofit sector and encourage successful practices that can be shared with other organizations across the state,” said Jill Pfitzenmayer, INE vice president.