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Utica Observer-Dispatch: charitySTRONG offering to teach local nonprofit boards

Tuesday, July 25, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Allie Schlapp
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Leaders of local nonprofits who want to strengthen their agency have a new resource.

The nonprofit charitySTRONG has expanded access to its educational library of resources for nonprofit directors from the Buffalo and New York City metropolitan areas to the entire state.

Joining a board comes with specific roles and responsibilities, community obligations and legal liability for fiduciary responsibility, said Executive Director Laura Klein. “So before joining a board, you really need to understand what you’re getting yourself into,” she said.

The library, called Directors U, includes about 200 publications, webinars and videos, most of them available for free, that teach board members and would-be board members about a variety of topics, such as what committees boards should have, how to read a nonprofit financial statement and what directors need to know about the New York Nonprofit Revitalization Act.

A cornerstone of Directors U is a 45-minute online course, created by charitySTRONG, on the fundamentals of being a good board member, Good Practices for Good Boards, Klein said. As of Thursday, 742 people have taken the class, she said.

All of the board members at the Buffalo-based nonprofit Crisis Services took the “Good Practices” course, said CEO Jessica Pirro. Having it online let each board member do it at his or her personal convenience, she said.

“It was really helpful because it just continued to spark discussion at each board meeting,” Pirro said.

And a lot detail goes into managing a nonprofit, which the course helped to explain, she said. “That attention to detail is critical to the success of a not-for-profit,” Pirro said.

Crisis Services also benefited from another charitySTRONG service — an online database to pair up people who want to serve on nonprofit boards and nonprofits looking for board members. That service still isn’t available in Central New York, but Klein said she hopes it will be eventually, after the nonprofit builds up a strong, local network.

“What a lot of organizations are finding is that their boards are aging, that there are some of the same people bring tapped for board service over and over again in communities,” Klein said. “So they are looking for ways to expand their network of people that they can call on.

“And by the same token, we’re seeing the younger generation wants to get involved. ... Young people network online. This is a way to bring this additional volunteer opportunity to where the next generation of leaders is ready.”

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