As a former Connecticut Department of Mental Health district director, Kathy Fox spent years navigating funding channels to deliver monetary support to nonprofit mental health services throughout central Connecticut. So Kathy knows today’s changing political climate is especially challenging, for all nonprofits.
As a member of the steering committee of the Shoreline Nonprofit Workshop Series (SNWS), Kathy is helping guide this spring’s “Nonprofit Survivor’s Guide to a Changing Landscape” for non-profits groups of any size and scope serving the communities of Guilford and Branford.
“We’re now looking at potentially very significant policy changes on the federal level, which will automatically influence funding opportunities at the state level, and in addition to that, we’re looking at serious difficulties with the state budget,” says Kathy. “So it seems to me that many non-profits going forward are going to need to be thinking about how are they going to reconfigure their service delivery systems, who are they going to partner with, what resources are they duplicating, and what resources can we share?
“By sharing resources and forming partnerships, [non-profits] can be much more effective in their advocacy and making their presence known,” Kathy says.
The spring 2017 workshop series will help with those questions, and more, during two-hour sessions (8 to 10 a.m.) on the second Thursdays of February, March, April and May. Registrants sign up for all four workshops or select those that best apply.
The Feb. 9 kickoff workshop is titled “Be the Champion of Your Mission.” Additional workshops are set for March 9 (“Words Matter & So Does the Message You Deliver”), April 13 (“Advocacy is More than Lobbying”), and May 11 (“Collaboration: 1+1 is Greater Than 3”). Registration and other information can be found at www.shorelinechamberct.com.
The series, now in its second year, is the result of a partnership between the Shoreline Chamber of Commerce (SCC) Nonprofit Council, the Guilford Foundation, and Branford Community Foundation (BCF). The workshops provide professional guidance at an exceptionally low cost ($15 per person, per workshop) in a collaborative environment that’s not often available for staff, board members, and volunteers who serve with local non-profits.
“It develops a collegial network in what can be an otherwise isolated environment,” says Kathy.
New SNWS programming is offered each spring and fall and is also supported by the Guilford Savings Bank. Series locations alternate seasonally between the towns of Guilford and Branford. The fall 2016 series was held at Guilford Free Library and the spring 2017 series is taking place at Branford’s Blackstone Library.
A goal of each series is to provide quality, affordable professional guidance. Spring 2017 workshop leaders include Sharon J. Danosky (founder and president, Danosky & Associates); Larry Smotroff, Ph.D. (nonprofit training strategist and consultant); and Peter B. Roche (founder and president, IPR Inc.)
SCC Nonprofit Council member Liza Petra says local nonprofits serving the Guilford and Branford communities are embracing the spring and fall workshop series. An average of 40 attendees representing 20 different local groups attend the workshops, said Petra. New groups and individuals are always encouraged.
Drawing on a Base of Support
Vital to the SCC Nonprofit Council’s SNWS mission is the support provided by the series’ sponsors, Guilford Foundation and Branford Community Foundation (BCF). A Branford resident, Kathy has been a member of the BCF Board of Directors for a little more than a year. Through BCF, she was connected with SCC (the tri-town Chamber of Commerce serving Guilford, Branford, and North Branford) and then signed on to help steer SNWS.
In her work with BCF, Kathy serves on the Grants Committee, which reviews applicants seeking funding for causes.
“In just the short time I’ve been there, there’s been a lot of growth in requests for grants. And the scope of things that we’re asked to considered funding—it’s absolutely fascinating,” Kathy says. “It’s given me the opportunity to learn so much about the breadth of the work that takes place in our community.”
Kathy also works with Petra in Petra’s capacity as executive director for BCF. Petra also serves as executive director for the Guilford Foundation. Petra says both of these non-profit community foundations have been champions of sponsoring SNWS because the Guilford Foundation and BCF board members recognize the importance of providing professional guidance to those dedicating their time to facilitate successful non-profits in order to support worthwhile charitable causes.
“Especially in times of budget crisis, investing in this sort professional development becomes the lowest priority for non-profits, because if you have a choice between what this type of programming would generally cost or helping someone, it’s going to be helping someone,” Petra says. “So our intent at the BCF and Guilford Foundation is to provide these services to organizations. This series is not just to help them to better advocate for themselves and collaborate, but also provides the best quality of workshop leadership. We are really thrilled with the level of the people who are running these programs.”
The SCC Nonprofit Council is also thrilled with the expertise and experience Kathy brings to help steer SNWS. Kathy has been key in helping to drive the focus of the workshops, as well as implementing and marketing the series to help extend its reach, says Petra.
Kathy retired from her work with the state 17 years ago and entered into a private practice in Branford for the next 15 years. She continues to provide professional services one day a week as a consultant for a mental health service non-profit.
Despite being a busy professional, wife, and mom, Kathy has always felt it to be important to give back to her community. She’s also currently serving on the Board of Directors of Shoreline Village CT, assisting that local non-profit with its mission of creating a community of seniors committed to living at home in Guilford, Madison, Branford, and North Branford.
Kathy encourages her shoreline neighbors to get involved in their community, not only to share their strengths to help others, but to truly enjoy being a part of the place where they live.
“You have to be part of the community. You meet wonderful people,” says Kathy.
To register for the spring 2017 Shoreline Nonprofit Workshop Series, visit www.shorelinechamberct.com or call 203-488-5500. Workshop registration cost is $15 per person per workshop. To apply for financial assistance to attend, send an email with organization name and prospective attendee’s name and a brief explanation of the situation to Liza Petra at firstname.lastname@example.org