CSM Launches Nonprofit Institute

Future Seminars, Workshops, Training Programs, Conferences Discussed at Kick-off

LA PLATA, Md.—The Nonprofit Institute at the College of Southern Maryland held its official launch breakfast at the La Plata Campus on July 9. To help nonprofit organizations improve their effectiveness, CSM created the institute to serve as a clearinghouse for information on resources and as a provider of expert services to the nonprofit community.

The institute had been in existence for two years, and with funding from the Charles County Commissioners this year a Charles County coordinator has been hired to expand its capacity to serve the public. St. Mary's County Commissioners have provided funding to hire a St. Mary's County coordinator as well.

"The work of nonprofit organizations-across the nation, in Maryland and here in Charles County-directly influences the effective functioning of society, the economy and politics," reported Vivian Mills, the Charles County coordinator for the institute as she shared statistics from the Center for Civil Society Studies on the impact of nonprofits on the economy. "The nonprofit sector not only enhances quality of life but also contributes importantly to the area's economic health," said Mills, adding that in Charles County alone, nonprofits provide jobs for more than 2,000 people.

"In the nonprofit world, if you don't have the heart, if you don't have the passion, then you'll never move [your organization] forward," Charles County Board of County Commissioners President Candice Quinn Kelly told more than 60 nonprofit presidents, board chairs and executives during the keynote on the launch for the institute. "You have to have that belief, that conviction, that what you are doing is so very important." Kelly was joined by Charles County Commissioner Vice President Reuben B. Collins II, Commissioner Debra M. Davis Esq. and Maryland State Delegate Peter Murphy.

In his remarks to those attending, CSM President Dr. Brad Gottfried reiterated the need to provide resources and expertise to the nonprofit community. "I don't have to tell you how difficult it is to raise funds now in this environment. It's tougher than it's ever been and the needs are greater than they've ever been and that's why we are here today," he said.

"The Nonprofit Institute is very much needed because a lot of times [nonprofit executives and leaders] are exhausted," said Valerie Rogers an attendee and the founder of Hesed Ministries International which provides benevolent services and spiritual education to the poor. Rogers encouraged the institute to provide workshops on building a board of trustees for newly established nonprofits and forming a cadre of board candidates interested in serving a nonprofit in their areas of interest.

Mills emphasized the institute's commitment to addressing the needs of nonprofit boards and said that plans include workshops to help new board members gain a full understanding of their role and responsibilities as well as programs to help improve board performance. She said that nonprofits in the community have already signaled a strong interest in workshops and training geared to their needs.

Southern Maryland Audubon Society President Mike Callahan thanked the Charles County Commissioners for their vision and support of the institute and suggested that some workshops be scheduled on evenings or weekends to allow for board members who work full time outside of their nonprofit volunteering.

Among the institute's first initiatives has been to survey county nonprofits in order to create a database to provide a snapshot of the size, scope and interests of Charles County organizations. Of the Charles County nonprofits registered with the Internal Revenue Service, online surveys were sent to 145, with 45 organizations responding by the July 2 deadline. "I'm optimistic that as word gets out we will have more nonprofits participate so that we can have a full picture of what the nonprofit sector looks like in our region," Mills said.

Nationally, there are 1.5 million nonprofits registered with the IRS, with 32,001 in Maryland. Of those, 441 are in Charles County, 319 in St. Mary's County and 283 in Calvert County. Southern Maryland nonprofits employ more than 6,000 people, making nonprofits collectively the second largest employer in the region.

"What is exciting about this is that we are trailblazers. I know of no other nonprofit institute in the country that is organized this way, where we have funding to hire staff, funding for training and speakers, and that we listen to you and your needs," Gottfried said to attendees.

Mills has worked in the nonprofit field for more than 40 years. In addition to holding positions as public information director and development director, she has served as the executive director for three national organizations. In the early 1990s, she established VHM Nonprofit Solutions, an independent nonprofit consulting firm which served a wide range of services to nonprofit organizations in Maryland and other states. The major focus of her consultant work included board performance, strategic planning and development. In addition, she is a veteran presenter of workshops on a variety of nonprofit topics. Mills is a Certified Fund Raising Executive and a longtime member of Maryland Nonprofits.

For information on the institute, visit http://www.csmd.edu/NonprofitInstitute/.

Source: CSM

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