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Nonprofit Academy Improves Executive Directors' Skills

The Community Foundation launched the Nonprofit Academy in 2019 to provide training for Executive Directors and to ultimately strengthen our region.

Seventeen Executive Directors participate in the inaugural Nonprofit Academy. The Directors represent varied causes including youth, arts and culture, and the environment. While they have diverse missions, all participants have less than three years of experience in their role as Executive Director. Through our strategic plan, we learned that people thought, and even expected, the Community Foundation should take an active role in nonprofit education. With this information in mind, we explored how other Community Foundations provide nonprofit education and arrived at the concept of the Nonprofit Academy.  The Community Foundation decided to open the training to Executive Directors in the Nonprofit Academy as Executive Directors significantly influence their nonprofit. This year's participants shared similar sentiments at the start of the program:
“As an ED, it's easy to feel as if you're alone on an island and I'm eager to learn how to be more effective with these classes.”“Being an ED is really running a small business. I have skills in fundraising, marketing, supervision...Working with a board, ensuring compliance/law, HR, budgets/finances are all new fields to me. EDs are expected to wear so many hats...I need help with those various hats. I also hope to expand my network of friends/colleagues I can call upon when I need help.”
Several features make the Nonprofit Academy unique.

1. Participation is free. While local nonprofit training is available, participants shared that cost is a barrier.

2. Nonprofit Academy participants create their curriculum. The Community Foundation does not assume the Directors' training needs. Instead, we asked the participants what topics were most important to them, just like we do with our initiatives. What are they missing that would advance their organization the most? 

3. Participants listen and learn from each other. At the start of their meetings, participants share recent achievements and seek wisdom from their peers. 

 Nonprofit Academy workshops have covered strategic planning, fundraising, board development and engagement, and human resources and personnel issues. Most recently, Melissa Tschanz, Community Foundation Chief Financial Officer, led a workshop on budgeting and financial reporting. Participants took copious notes as  Melissa shared valuable information including:
 “Document your assumptions.” “990s are a first impression - make your 990s look like a brochure.” 
 We will cover marketing and communications next month. The 2019 Nonprofit Academy will conclude with a graduation ceremony after December's class. Applications for the 2020 Nonprofit Academy will soon be accepted.  Please stay tuned.  2019 Participating Organizations: Big Brothers Big Sisters Communities in Schools Cultural Alliance Nevada Dress for Success Envirolution Girls on the Run - Sierras Nevada Educational Advocacy Center for Children Nevada Historical Society Nevada Outdoor School OLLI Pioneer Center Reno Little Theater ROC Foundation Sierra Arts Foundation Step 2 Tahoe Rim Trail Association Urban Roots                             Step 2 Tahoe Rim Trail Association Urban Roots