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ConnectVA Spotlight: Bruce Coffey Jr., Read to Them

ConnectVA Spotlight-Coffey

Tell us about yourself.

I am Bruce Coffey Jr., the creator of Read to Them’s One School, One Book program and the overall Director of Programs at Read to Them.  I am trained as a historian and also serve as a middle school history teacher at Sabot at Stony Point School.  I believe in the transformative power of children’s literature and am ecstatic to be in a position to share my enthusiasm and that enabling power with families and schools across the country.

What is the focus of your work and the need you are addressing?

Schools and the nation have bemoaned poor reading scores and poor reading ability since I was in elementary school.  In addition, schools are asked to do too much and cannot transform student’s lives and abilities without input from home.  Read to Them’s programs aim to solve both problems – putting some responsibility for children’s education back in the home, but in an exciting rewarding way, allowing children, families and schools to experience and generate enthusiasm for reading children’s literature together.

What do you find most rewarding about your work?

It’s rewarding for me to know that I can introduce books I am enthusiastic about (high quality children’s literature), not to a handful of friends or family, but to thousands of children and families across the country.  It’s rewarding to hear and see the enthusiasm generated by our simple program in the pictures, videos, links, and testimonials they share.  It’s rewarding to know we’ve discovered a simple solution that actually helps our education system in its monumental task.  It’s rewarding to know that we can transform students’ lives and possibilities through the simple, sly, unlikely vehicle of a book.

Tell us about your biggest accomplishment in this position. 

Growing from a half a dozen schools to over 1000 across the nation is our biggest accomplishment.  It was challenging to do this as unfunded non-profit.  We’ve managed to create a simple, flexible, affordable, easy to implement program that generates enthusiasm and is renewed by most schools every year.  Managing our burgeoning list of client schools without benefit of large grants or sponsors has been our biggest challenge.

What’s coming next for your organization that really excites you?

We’re expanding the One District, One Book program – in which all the families in all the schools in an entire district read the same children’s novel at the same time.  We’ll be doing that this year by expanding an across the state initiative we pioneered in Texas – Texas Reads One Book.  We also plan to expand our auxiliary offerings to middle schools and high schools.  And to make a special push to innovate and find ways to reach the underserved, least privileged or least capable families in our populations.

How are you leveraging ConnectVA to achieve your mission?

We’ve discovered that partnering – and especially partnering with partners of partners! – is a great way to build synergy and increase one’s reach and effectiveness.  So we’d love to use ConnectVA to connect and partner with other organizations with overlapping missions and goals.  We’d especially like to find ways of reaching families in some of Richmond’s struggling inner-city schools.  We’ve been working at it – but with only marginal success.

Anything else you would like to share?

Our mission is to create a culture of literacy in every home.  That may sound ambitious and it may sound like a mouthful.  But it really is our ambition and we really believe – we see it every day – in the unique ability of a rich, children’s story to animate learners and families, to increase interest and ability in reading, and to make students’ and schools’ more effective.  We recently moved our offices to the BookBindery on Broad St. Come say Hello!

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News from the Community: ConnectVA Feedback on VCU Social Media Projects for Nonprofits

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Last week, ConnectVA had the honor of being a guest judge for the VCU Social Media Institute, which combines undergraduate and graduate students from Virginia Commonwealth University with college students from Iraq in the Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program for a one-of-a-kind social media project.

Over a four-week period, the students develop and implement social media projects for nonprofit organizations in Richmond, Virginia.

We gave feedback on the first round of Social Media Strategy Presentations for the following local nonprofits:

RVA Music School and Outreach
Sabot at Stony Point
GReat Aspirations Scholarship Program (GRASP)
Youth Life Foundation of Richmond
Dress for Success Central Virginia
Connor’s Heroes Foundation
Beds for Kids, Inc.
Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy
Virginia Center for Health Innovation
College Behavioral and Emotional Health Initiative (COBE)
VCU College of Humanities and Sciences

We saw many great social media strategies in the works – great campaigns with smart hashtags, video projects, new media being incorporated and ways to help the nonprofits get organized when implementing!

(BONUS: we created this handy ConnectVA Guide to Social Media Best Practices 2015 for the students and YOU)

Here are some key takeaways, trends and recommendations we had for the presentations:

1. Get Organized!

No matter how large or small the organization – the biggest challenge for all of the organizations is dedicated staff time for an online presence and social media!  Many nonprofits are enlisting the help of volunteers, fellows, interns and splitting staff responsibilities in preparation for their strategy.  Here are some ways we suggested to get organized when planning your social media strategy:

  • Make decisions for tools, time and priorities based on your Nonprofit’s Social Media Audience
  • Many nonprofits said that they wanted to “engage the community” or wanted awareness through social media, when in-fact they wanted something more concrete, i.e. donations, volunteers or a direct advocacy action – have specific goals when crafting your plan, beyond Facebook “likes” or follows on twitter and create a Social Media ROI Spreadsheet to track and report success.
  • Create an Editorial Calendar for shared responsibility and planning purposes
  • Have a solid action plan and content strategy for your year plan or campaign
  • Create a budget based on your strategy

2. Prioritize Your Website

Make sure your online presence has a solid foundation, starting with your website.

  • The nonprofits were all in different stages in their life cycle; some were just starting out with their web presence – it’s important when planning to prioritize your website and its design first to enable trust in your supporters, funders and volunteers
  • Prioritize a responsively designed website – look at your site on different devices, what’s the experience like?
  • Make sure your donation process is as easy as possible; test it yourself as an outsider would – ON YOUR PHONE OR TABLET!

3. Blogging

  • Most of the nonprofits didn’t have a blog, but have wonderful stories, advice and information to share with the community; blogging is an easy way to:
    • get a refreshed message out
    • increase your Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Google prioritizes websites with new content
    • create content for your e-newsletter and social media posts

4. E-newsletter

  • Many of the nonprofits needed to reprioritize their e-newsletter in their social media campaigns, as studies show that more online donations are made from a click in an e-newsletter than any other source
  • Because your supporters are more likely to get your message through an e-newsletter, have strong calls to action – i.e. sign a petition or solicit volunteers (also, make sure to leverage the power of HandsOn Greater Richmond when looking for volunteers or board members)
  • Prioritize mobile-friendly e-newsletters; 66% of email is now read on mobile devices
  • Regularly remind your supporters that your nonprofit is doing good work and inspire them to get involved; Focus on 1-5 stories and keep text to a minimum

5. Images

  • Many of the nonprofits reported issues of low engagement on social media sites, particularly on Twitter, and many of them also didn’t use images
  • We suggested that they use compelling images more frequently with free tools like Canva and Picmonkey

Overall, the presentations were great and we are so excited to see these plans come to life!  We put together this Guide based on advice from Nonprofit Tech for Good on creating a solid Social Media Strategy, check it out: ConnectVA Guide to Social Media Best Practices 2015

We will be reporting next week on the students and the nonprofits who win the contest at VCU – so, stay tuned!

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Nonprofit Trends: RVA Combats Economic Inequality & Environmental Degradation

RVA Nonprofit Trends

ConnectVA is excited to announce a new blog series, where we will showcase the local response to global and national trends in the nonprofit sector.  We aim to highlight organizations who are utilizing new and innovative ways to solve challenges through programs, initiatives and collaboration.

According to Independent Sector’s Nine Key Trends Shaping the Future of the Charitable Sector, “disruption from inequality and environmental degradation”  are two factors that will put pressure on the public sector to respond with innovative solutions and political change. Nearly half the world’s population survives on less than $2 a day.  In the City of Richmond, the poverty rate is 26.7%, the highest level in the state. Virginia is abuzz over topics such as the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and its potential environmental impact. Despite these challenges, we found many examples of how local organizations are actively collaborating to create change!

Local Examples of  Combating Economic Inequality:

  • Shalom Farms, a regional food access and community development project of United Methodist Urban Ministries of Richmond (UMUMR), combats food deserts and partners with multiple organizations to achieve its mission. Their Prescription Produce Plan “equips communities with the skills, knowledge, and good food options necessary to overcome preventable illnesses associated with unhealthy diets. Prescriptions include weekly deliveries of fresh produce from the farm and educational programming around healthy eating.” They also recently participated in the Organizational Improvement Process, offered by PNE’s Organizational Solutions, to assess and strengthen their strategic direction. Executive Director Dominic Barrett said, “the relationships that we built, not only within our cohort, but with participating consultants in the region, have been extremely beneficial.”
  • CHAT (Church Hill Activities and Tutoring) was awarded the Robins Foundation Community Innovation Grant in 2014 to support its Young Entrepreneurs of Richmond Project, an initiative that provides an opportunity to Church Hill’s youth to learn about business and develop skills in woodworking, screen printing, urban farming, and much more. CHAT is currently hiring a Youth-Small Business Manager to support its growing initiatives. Proposals are being accepted through September 1st for this year’s Robins Foundation grant.

Local Examples of Combating Environmental Degradation:

  • Groundwork RVA, was formed in 2013 by a “broad group of inspired community visionaries with inspiration” provided by the City of Richmond, US National Park Service, US Environmental Protection Agency, and the Groundwork USA network. They have collaborated with local schools to establish the Green Team – Green Team members work on hands-on beautification and outreach projects and participate in field trips co-organized by the National Parks Service.
  • The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, with offices here in Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, D.C. and 15 field centers, advocates for the health of the bay’s habitats and the communities it touches. Their online petition mobilizes the public to contact local government officials to uphold the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint – a Clean Water act provision that benchmarks pollution reduction and aims to “ensure everyone shares in the responsibility for cleaning up our waterways.”

  • The James River Association, the “guardian of the James River”, is actively working to preserve the river as a fresh water source and serves to educate the public on conservation. They have spearheaded the Regional Rivers Plan, which was discussed and open to public comment yesterday evening at The Cameron Foundation in Petersburg. The plan “make[s] recommendations and identif[ies] strategies to leverage our rivers to improve quality of life and catalyze river-based economic activity.”

Does your organization work on similar issues? We’ve highlighted some resources that can help your nonprofit as it fights the good fight:

We hope these examples inspire you to look for opportunities to collaborate, innovate, and keep doing great work.

 

We know it’s not easy to find the time to peer through the periscope to check out the future of the sector above the ocean of things on your to-do list. That’s why we’ll be showcasing trends you should know about in a weekly series inspired by Independent Sector’s Nine Key Trends Shaping the Future of the Charitable Sector, Keep the conversation going by sharing your thoughts and ideas in the comments, or choose one our Community Discussion Forums. 

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ConnectVA Spotlight: Eleanor Sharp, Nonprofit Learning Point

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Eleanor Sharp, Nonprofit Learning Point

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Eleanor Sharp, Senior Program Manager for Nonprofit Learning Point for the Partnership for Nonprofit Excellence. I have 10 years of experience in adult education as a teacher, curriculum specialist, and program designer.  Just before joining the Partnership for Nonprofit Excellence in late January of this year, I was administrative faculty at VCU in the Office of Continuing and Professional Education, during which time I earned my Master of Education in Adult Learning. My real start in adult education came when I was an English Language teacher overseas in Malta and Russia.

What is the focus of your work and the need you are addressing?

Almost everything I do, professional and even personal volunteer work, is about educating the whole person and creating avenues of exposure for growth and development. At NLP, we address the needs of nonprofit professionals by hosting creative programming in leadership development and nonprofit management; over 70 classes a year, the 8-month Emerging Nonprofit Leaders Program, coaching, OnSite programming, workshops, organizational partnerships, and a Conference.

What do you find most rewarding about your work?

People! People! People! What amazing industrious interesting people that I get to meet at NLP! I don’t know that anything is more rewarding as a teacher or program specialist than seeing someone get a promotion because you helped them receive training that led to a professional certification or endorsement….or when you have someone tell you that their mindset has changed and they feel more confident and effective as a leader/colleague/contributor/creator because of their experiences in your programming. Seeing how people grow and do amazing things is really what keeps me going and wanting to always provide even better and even more supportive programs.

What are some major challenges you have faced and how you handled them? 

Well, I’m right at the 6 month mark in this position so many of my challenges have been around learning all the parts of a new job! It’s also my first real foray into a 501c3, outside of a volunteer role. And let me tell you, after six years at VCU, it’s pretty different! I handle the challenges of working in a new organization (and all the system differences that come with that) by really relying on my colleagues and doing as much reading and research as possible. I try to meet in person with as many NLP stakeholders as I can to learn from them as well, like our committee members and instructors.

Keeping my eyes and ears open has been the best way to problem solve any issue. The benefit of working as an active part of a great team is that there are many people to help find the best solutions and you never feel alone.

What’s coming next for your organization that really excites you?

Wow! We’ve been working really hard on some exciting new things! The first is NLP OnSite, where we can take our classroom content and really shape it to fit an organization(s) for more specialized delivery.  This helps us live out our mission of providing accessible services to those people or organizations that have a hard time fitting our regularly scheduled classes into their schedule.

And… drum roll please… we will be announcing information for our 2015 conference very soon! I can’t share too much now- but definitely keep an eye out! It’s really exciting stuff! We have also planned some scheduling and registration changes for 2016 to better support our students and certificate seekers in our classes. Start looking on the website in October for those updates!

How are you leveraging ConnectVA to achieve your mission?

How aren’t we?! I don’t know what NLP would do without ConnectVA! We post all of our classes and events on the ConnectVA site, we use the community conversations forum to make announcements and stay abreast of important topics, and we also refer students and organizations there for support when we don’t have the resources they need. Oh, and, I found my job there!

Anything else you would like to share?

I think I’d like to take a moment and say thank you to all of our staff, volunteers, instructors, and coaches! Without the hard work of my amazing teammate at NLP, Laura Pilati, and our committee members, advisory board members, and all the professionals that serve as instructors and coaches, our classes and meetings would not be as dynamic as they are. Every single one of them does an amazing job! I’d also like to thank all of my colleagues at the Partnership for Nonprofit Excellence- so to all the staff in Organizational Solutions, HandsOn Greater Richmond, ConnectVA and Operations- THANK YOU! It’s been a great first 6 months!

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News from the Community: Shalom Farms Grows Through OIP

How a local nonprofit took the fast-track to organizational improvement

ConnectVA recently met up with the Executive Director of Shalom Farms, Dominic Barrett, to learn how participating in a 12 week cohort-based assessment process allowed the organization to strengthen its strategic direction.

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The Organizational Improvement Process (OIP), offered by PNE’s Organizational Solutions, allows organizations to receive an in-depth look at infrastructure, operational effectiveness and sustainability, including directional strategies.  Executive Directors and Board members take online assessments, attend workshops, are paired with a consultant and learn from peer organizations during the process.

Here’s what Domenic had to say about Shalom Farms and the OIP:

First, tell us a little about your organization.

Shalom Farms is a nonprofit community farm project that started in 2008 with the overarching goal of increasing food security in the Richmond region, particularly in low-income urban neighborhoods. Our work is concentrated in the East End, Southside and Northside of Richmond City, although our 6-acre farm is located in Goochland.

Our programs center around 1) growing an array of healthy produce to provide to under-served communities 2) providing introductory experiential learning opportunities for children and adults on growing food, overcoming barriers to cooking and eating nutritionally and food-based entrepreneurship, and 3) linking community groups to a wide range of resources and partners, using a strengths-based approach to build individual and community self-sufficiency.

Our work thrives because of our 4,500 volunteers who work on the farm each year to grow and harvest over 75,000 lbs. of organic produce and the partnerships that we build with other organizations with similar missions, like FeedMore, Peter Paul Development Center and CHAT.

From your point of view, what is the OIP?

The OIP, to me, was like going to a Travel Agent to plan an upcoming vacation.

While you can always plan it yourself, it’s much more efficient and effective to have an outsider who understands the process, puts a comprehensive package together for you that is heavily discounted, and sends you on a vacation with 3 of your peers who want to go on the same type of vacation as you, and you get to experience it together.

 

What was the need for Shalom Farms before starting OIP?

All organizations have room for growth, and we recognized that we needed support with capacity building in order to take our organization, the board, and our programming to the next level.

We believed we had 3 real core needs going into the process – 1) strategic planning, 2) a fundraising plan and 3) an understanding of our strengths in leveraging the farm and volunteer opportunities.

We knew that with any real investment, the process would take time and require attention by both me and our Board Members.  After a recommendation from past participant Tricycle Gardens and learning that the other organizations in the cohort were similar in mission, size and need we decided to move forward.

What did you discover during the process?

Going through the assessment process and working with our chosen consultant, we really affirmed the needs that we believed we had going in.  Now, we needed an action plan to move forward and time to break away from our programming for long-term planning.

The OIP consultant was instrumental in providing a recommendation report and a capacity building plan that reflected what we learned – sort of like a road map for our journey.

If you decide to make an investment like this, or a funder recommends going through this process, make sure to make the time for it and be clear about what it is that you want coming out of it.  Be selfish about what’s best for your organization.   You don’t have to know exactly what your organization needs to be successful in the process, but you should know the questions that you want answered and exactly why you are participating.

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What was the impact and what’s next for your organization?

First of all, the relationships that we built, not only within our cohort, but with participating consultants in the region, have been extremely beneficial.  We are now working on a Fund Development Strategy, focusing on individual donors from the priorities highlighted during the process.

Soon we will be unveiling new branding that we developed with Campfire & Co. – check out our new logo and get a preview of changes to come on our Facebook page.

We are solidifying our current programming and working on evaluation, as well as working with the City of Richmond to expand our Produce Prescription Plan into Resource Centers.

The knowledge that we gained from OIP will strategically help us as we begin early stages of farm expansion in 18 to 24 months from now and continue to bring valuable programs and resources to our community for years to come.

 

Are you interested in learning more about participating in Organizational Assessments or the Organizational Improvement Process? Organizational Solutions is looking for its next round of participants – applications due August 17th.  Read more here.

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ConnectVA’s Got Your Ticket to a Learncation

Nonprofit Resources on ConnectVA

You may have heard about the “staycation”, but what about a “learncation”? You don’t have to travel to take a learncation. You don’t even have to leave your desk. Put some time on your calendar to take an educational journey to the ConnectVA Resource Library.

The ConnectVA Resource Library, powered by 4Good, is a virtual library of resources, webinars, tool-kits and reports on a variety of popular topics, such as board governance, fundraising, technology, management, marketing, and more.

With the Resource Library, you never have to miss another webinar, because they are all archived and available 24/7 online. Whether you need sample policies, or a refresher on a topic you haven’t explored in a while, the possibilities are endless! Access to most articles and webinars is free, but some e-books and guides are available for a nominal fee.  You can use the widgets on ConnectVA to search for resources on popular topics, or go straight to 4Good for more.

Nonprofit Resources on ConnectVA

How to Get Started

First, create a free 4Good account. Enter your name, e-mail address, and desired password.

While logged in, in the search bar, search for ConnectVA. Then click on Organizations under Type.

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Click on image to enlarge.

Then click on the ConnectVA 4Good organization account.

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You can now explore ConnectVA’s library. Don’t forget to “Subscribe” (follow) our activity to receive notifications of new resources in our collections!

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Sharing is Caring

No learncation is complete without sharing the experience with others! You can curate your own collection of your favorite ConnectVA resources and share them with your team. For example, let’s say you want to collect resources on leadership and change management and share it with a new board member. Here’s one way you could do it:

First, you’ll need to create a collection. Do this by clicking on the plus sign in the top right corner of your screen. Then, click on Next under Collection.

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Click on image to enlarge. 

Enter a title for your collection and click save.

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You must Add Body Text and some tags for your collection. You can also edit how your collection appears (style), who can edit the collection (collaboration), see analytics, and add your own files. When ready, click on Publish.

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Go back to the ConnectVA Library. Locate a resource you want to add to your collection, such as “The Leader as Coach: Guiding Your Team in Dynamic Change” - a webinar – and click on Collect.

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Add the webinar to your collection and click save.

To get back to your Collection, click on the avatar in the top right corner of your screen and then on Dashboard.

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Scroll down slightly to find and click on your collection.

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Next, click on View this Page as a Visitor. You will see the share tools and can click on the @ symbol to e-mail your collection to your board member.

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Do you use 4Good to post nonprofit management resources? We’d love to include it in the ConnectVA collection. E-mail us at admin@connectva.org.

Tell us all about your Resource Library Learncation in the comments below. Happy learning!

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ConnectVA Spotlight: JC Poma, The Doorways

Get to know JC Poma – Community Outreach Manager for The Doorways, and this week’s ConnectVA Spotlight!

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Tell us about yourself.

My name is J.C. Poma and I am the Community Outreach Manager for The Doorways, formerly known as Hospital Hospitality House. I attended the University of Virginia undergrad (Go Hoos!) and received my master’s degree from Georgetown University four years ago. I worked for a nonprofit in DC called TEAM Coalition before my lifelong mentor, Jim Ukrop, invested in a local company called Arena Racing USA and persuaded me to come back to RVA in December 2012. Ultimately, the Arena Racing venture was not as successful as we would have liked and I wanted to return to the nonprofit world, which is my passion. I was very lucky that our President/CEO, Stacy Brinkley, offered me a job at The Doorways and I could not be more honored to work for such a great organization with such a dedicated staff!

What is the focus of your work?

The Doorways provides lodging and support for patients and their loved ones who need to be close to Richmond area hospitals, but not far from the feeling of home. I think one thing that many ‘Richmonders’ do not realize is that we improve access to health care. The Doorways empowers families to travel to Richmond for the advanced medical care they need and not have to worry about where they’re going to sleep or how they are going to afford to eat breakfast, lunch or dinner while their loved one is in the hospital. We see so many patients undergoing trial treatment at Massey Cancer Center or coming to us from the Veterans Administration Hospital. Would these people be able to receive this specialized treatment without The Doorways? Many times the answer is no, and I think that single-handedly shows how important our mission is to the Richmond community.

What do you find most rewarding about your work?

Our guests. There are so many stories that stick out, but one in particular sits close to my heart. I don’t know if it is because J.J. is so close to my name, J.C., or if it is because I still feel like a kid at heart and it hurts to see such a vibrant young boy struggling with an awful disease. Anyway, J.J. is a 6 year old brain cancer patient. He was first diagnosed with cancer when he was only 17 months old, and he and his dad have been staying at The Doorways on and off for the last 4.5 years during J.J.’s many treatments. They live in the Northern Neck and J.J.’s dad says traveling back and forth “would just be too much for J.J.”. “It’s just like home,” says his dad, and “it makes things just a little bit better for me and J.J.”. When J.J.’s not in the hospital, he is always “zooming” around the house, just a six year old boy who loves cars. J.J, like all of our guests, brightens my day and that is why all of us here at The Doorways love what we do – because of the guests!

 

Tell us about your biggest accomplishment in this position?

I think my favorite accomplishment has been the start of our Young Professionals Council (YPC). It is a fantastic group of young professionals (over 30 from various companies large and small), all united by a desire to increase the visibility, understanding and support of The Doorways in the RVA community. The group aims to increase visibility through fundraising and awareness events and all proceeds from Young Professionals Council events are donated to The Doorways to support the cost to house guests during their stay.

What are some major challenges you have faced and how you handled them? 

Like any successful venture comes challenges, but the biggest challenge we face here at The Doorways is awareness. We hate to be called the ‘best kept secret in Richmond’, one of the many reasons why we rebranded from Hospital Hospitality House to The Doorways, between healing and home. We serve over 8,000 people a year, but all who live at least 30 miles outside of Richmond. If you lived within 30 miles, you would want to be in your own home in your own bed. Our core constituency is our guests – they see our mission up close and personal, but leave Richmond at the end of their medical crisis. Yet Richmond is where we are raising the majority of the money needed to fund this fantastic organization. It costs $6,200 a day to operate The Doorways. We are continually trying to tell our story to corporations, community/civic groups, churches, school etc. The Doorways is a fantastic place to #GiveShareVolunteer! We have over 15,000 volunteer hours a year – wow!

What’s coming next for your organization that really excites you?

We began the process of rebranding to The Doorways with a makeover of our first floor social space in February and March, followed by a formal ‘Launch Party’ in April. Now is time to continue to enhance our facility. We have a fantastic team in place and are so excited about all of the changes and renovations. We are in the process of raising $1.7 million to fund these renovations and just received a $200,000 challenge grant from The Cabell Foundation to get us started. Apple Hospital REIT’s SpringHill Suites off of Gaskins road recently donated all of their ‘soft goods’ as they renovate their property and those donations will go a long way toward enhancing our guest rooms.

What excites me most is continuing to tell our story! The rebranding, thanks in part to Big River Advertising Agency, has reinvigorated everyone – staff, Young Professionals Council, Board of Directors, volunteers etc.! I greatly look forward to new community partners, volunteers and really just spreading our mission in the RVA community. Who cannot connect to an organization like The Doorways?

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How are you leveraging ConnectVA to achieve your mission?

ConnectVA and all of the programs of the Partnership for Nonprofit Excellence are a huge resource for our staff! Even though I knew the former CEO of The Doorways, I saw my job listing posted on ConnectVA. Our current CEO, Stacy Brinkley, posts every one of our jobs on the platform.

HandsOn has single handedly made my job easier and more productive. We utilize volunteers for every facet of our organization and the HandsOn platform is our most visible recruiting tool. We also had over 150 volunteers at HandsOn Day last October.

Anything else you would like to share?

Having grown-up in Richmond right down the street from the former CEO of The Doorways, I always had a general idea of the mission of our organization, but it was not until I was down here for my interview that it hit home. Anyone of us could need an organization like The Doorways tomorrow. It really hit home around Thanksgiving last year when we had several I-95 accident families stay here while a loved one was recovering at VCU Health System. We are a critical part of the healing process for the people we serve and to be the second largest hospitality house in the country and the only one that still operates on donations alone means a lot to our staff and Board of Directors. While the cost for a night’s stay (at full occupancy) is around $52, we still only ask for a donation of $15 per night. Last year, close to 53% were unable to make a contribution towards the suggested donation of $15. To be able to provide this accommodation and still operate on donations alone is a huge part of our story and a story that we hope to continue to spread around the RVA community.

 

Do you know someone who should be featured as the ConnectVA Spotlight?  Let us know by emailing info@connectva.org!

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Tech Tips: 6 Social Media & Fundraising Reports

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At ConnectVA, we love compiling resources and sharing best practices – simplifying the process and search for you, so you can focus on mission!

Here are 6 great reports from the past year that could help in your decision making in social media and fundraising!  If you’re looking for local agency reports, check out ConnectVA Community Vital Signs or check out our Resource Library, powered by 4Good where you can find recorded webinars, reports and studies on a multitude of nonprofit topics!

1) Giving USA 2015 Highlights Report – the free version of key takeaways from the annual study compiled by The Giving Institute.

2) Diversity in Giving Study – this report released by Blackbaud analyzes the differences in donor priorities, values, and habits across ethnic or racial subgroups. By understanding each group’s giving attitudes and preferences, this study serves as a strong foundation to guide your organization toward a more inclusive—and effective—fundraising approach.

3) 2015 Millennial Impact Report – multiple reports and webinars on Millennials and their desire to do good, reported by the Millennial Impact Project.

4) Nonprofit Benchmarks Study 2015 – the 2015 M+R Benchmarks Study is this year’s guide to nonprofit industry standards for online fundraising, advocacy, and list building.

5) 2015 Donor Engagement Study – this study by Abila studies 1) what matters most to donors? 2) how can nonprofit professionals be better communicators? 3) what makes donors feel involved and engaged?

6) 2015 Nonprofit Communications Trends Report – just as the title states, this report released by Kivi Leroux Miller with nonprofitmarketingguide.com dives into trends for 2015, as reported by nonprofit communicators themselves.

 

How have you used data and reports to guide and direct your social media and/or fundraising efforts? Let us know!  Sign in and comment below!

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7 Reasons Why Everyone in your Organization Should be on ConnectVA

RVA Nonprofits on ConnectVA

We’ve written before about how to request membership to your organization, but now we’ve got several reasons why your team should make it a top priority:

  1. Break down the silos – With multiple member-administrators, everyone has the opportunity to be “in the know” about what’s being posted on behalf of your organization, and anyone can make changes. For example, if someone is out sick, and you need to edit an event or job post, you need not wait until he/she returns or sign-in using their email and password; you can make the change yourself with your own account (using your email and your own password) that’s also attached to the organization.
  2. Development Staff - Get your annual events on the ConnectVA Community Calendar early, and stake your claim. Be the first to know about grants and funding opportunities by subscribing to the Community Discussion Forum (click subscribe at the top of the forum). Post in-kind donations needed in the Item Exchange.
  3. Human Resources Professionals - This one may be obvious – since the Job Finder is our most popular feature – but if you’re responsible for recruitment at your organization, you should definitely be registered on ConnectVA. As a member-administrator of your organization, you can post jobs and internship positions easily, for the low cost of $45 per listing for 30 days.  You can also look out for Professional Development opportunities for staff through the ConnectVA Community Calendar by searching under “Professional Training”.
  4. Interns - Help keep your organization’s listing current, and gain access to ConnectVA’s daily and weekly update e-mails to learn more about the nonprofit sector.
  5. Marketing/Communications Specialists – Share your news and announcements, like a press release, in the Community Discussion Forum or ask a question in specialty forums like Communications and Marketing. Need to hire a graphic designer for a special project? Post an RFP in our Job Finder.
  6. Executive Directors – Looking for opportunities to collaborate with your peers? Register and complete your Member profile, to make yourself accessible to other nonprofit leaders. Looking for a new space for your nonprofit or moving and want to give office items to another organization? Check out the Item Exchange.  Looking for a consultant to help with Strategic Planning? Post an RFP in our Job Finder.
  7. Smooth transition when someone departs – Having more than one member-administrator of your organization listing makes it much easier to maintain when someone leaves. If your only member-administrator has left and you need assistance with getting your listing updated, contact us at info@connectva.org.

This is just a short list of the many different ways that different staff members can take advantage of the resources and tools on ConnectVA!

How do I get started? 

Step 1 - Register or log in to ConnectVA (scroll down to the middle of the home page)

Step 2 - Log in and find your organization listing in the Organization Directory. Click on your organization name.

Step 3 - Locate the Request Membership tab and click on it. Enter your comments and click on Send Request.

Step 4 - All current member-administrators will receive an e-mail with your request, and any current member can approve it.

Voila - you are now a member-administrator of your organization!

If your organization is not listed on ConnectVA, once you’ve registered and signed in, click on Add Organization or Business Profile from your dashboard and apply for a listing. The ConnectVA team will review and approve it.

Businesses can take advantage of this too! If you have a Business Network listing on ConnectVA, ask other members of your team to register for a ConnectVA account and request membership to your business. They’ll be the first to know about hot topics in the sector, and can help you maintain your listing.

 

Want more tips on using ConnectVA 2.0?  Read how to:

Not registered on ConnectVA? Click here to get started.

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