Friday Focus: Nonprofit Institute at the College of Southern Maryland

onprofit Institute at the College of Southern MarylandEvery day, nonprofit organizations face a multitude of challenges, from staffing to marketing to the ever-important task of raising money. The Nonprofit Institute at the College of Southern Maryland works to assist nonprofits in the Tri-County area by providing tools and information to help organizations succeed. Having just wrapped up work for the Institute’s annual conference, Coordinator Tammy Vitale took time out of her busy schedule this week to talk with us about the many resources that are available for nonprofits.

Q: Tell us about your organization (who do you serve?).

A: The Nonprofit Institute at the College of Southern Maryland is set up to encourage the healthy growth and development of the region’s extensive nonprofit sector. It seeks to enhance their effectiveness through assistance in the form of information, training, networking and consultation services helpful to board members, staff and volunteers. The Institute’s plans and programs are helped through the contributions of its county-based Advisory Councils and working committees.
The Nonprofit Institute exists for the sole purpose of helping nonprofit organizations that serve the community to grow stronger. Major goals include:

  • Determining the size, scope and diversity of the nonprofit sector to gain a reliable picture of the nature and range of its needs and interests.
  • Providing a variety of seminars, workshops, training programs and conferences for board members, staff and volunteers.
  • Working directly with specific organizations in areas of organizational governance, fundraising, marketing and management.
  • Serve as a clearinghouse of information specific to nonprofit concerns, ranging from the board’s role and legal requirements to organizational assessment, leadership development, policy development, fundraising, fiscal management, communications, employment and volunteer use.
  • Identifying professional resources in the community that are able to provide pro bono or reduced-cost assistance.
  • Promoting greater public understanding of the community benefits provided by the nonprofit sector.
  • Maintaining an up-to-date snapshot of the nonprofit community.

Q: What is your favorite “moment” (example of how your organization helped)?

A: It is always gratifying to hear the positive responses after nonprofit folks attend our workshops or our Annual Conference. We evaluate all of our workshops, and responses like, “This was a very thorough and interesting workshop on a topic I needed to understand better.  The information I received will be very helpful to me,” let us know that we hit the mark.

Hitting the mark is important because in today’s world, operating a nonprofit organization can be a daunting challenge. Nonprofit leaders have to keep up with a rapidly changing environment marked not only by technological change but also by greater regulation and increased competition. Often, they have to figure out how to stretch limited financial and human resources in order to meet growing needs. Throughout the nonprofit sector, sustainability over the long haul is an understandable concern.
Offering our workshops at very low prices – most are currently around $15 for a two hour workshop – is doing our part both through education and accessibility to aid nonprofits in their very important work.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: We are always looking for ways to let the nonprofit community know that the Nonprofit Institute at the College of Southern Maryland is here, that we are offering great educational and networking opportunities, and that we love to hear from them about their thoughts on how we can work together to do that better.

Q: Are there upcoming events?

A: The Nonprofit Institute continues to grow its offerings for the nonprofit community. More information can always be found on our events page: http://www.csmd.edu/NonProfitInstitute/Events.html. This page always offers up-to-date information for both Leonardtown and La Plata campus offerings. Examples of offerings include:

  • Leonardtown is offering a series of workshops starting April 17 on all facets of social media for the nonprofit, including hands on creation of Facebook and Twitter pages, and an e-newsletter.
  • LaPlata is offering workshops on Running an All Volunteer Organization, Telling Your Organization’s Story for Maximum Effect and Your Board and the Fundraising Imperative to name a few.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: Anyone interested in knowing more about all the great offerings – from workshops to conferences to community networking – can access the events page above or contact Tammy Vitale (Leonardtown): 240-725-5432 or tvitale@csmd.edu, or Vivian Mills (La Plata): 301-539-4741 or vmills1@csmd.edu.

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