Our community is best served when nonprofit organizations develop and maintain strong and engaged board leadership, fiscal transparency, well-trained and knowledgeable staff, civic commitment and a strategic pursuit of altruistic missions.
Organizational success depends on long-term sustainability, strategic planning skills, and the ability to meet mission while implementing necessary change. It also requires attention to leveraging resources, promoting efficiencies, eliminating duplicative efforts and meeting collective needs.
In 1995 The Community Foundation Serving Richmond and Central Virginia (TCF) collaborated with Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and other community leaders to field a survey to help better understand the capacity needs of nonprofit organizations in our region.
Survey results revealed a need for the following nonprofit support services:
- Affordable and accessible high quality professional development
- Communication and information resources
- Networking and training opportunities
- Organizational development
- Technical assistance and other resources critical for nonprofit success
Local nonprofit leaders, corporate and foundation funders and other community volunteers convened to discuss the survey results and the decision was made to form Especially for Nonprofits (now Nonprofit Learning Point) at VCU in order to provide organizational and professional development training for nonprofit organizations in Greater Richmond. Nonprofit Learning Point formally affiliated with the Partnership in 2008. The program remains a community and university collaboration with VCU. NLP offers affordable classes, coaching, and programs for professional and leadership development for the nonprofit community.
In June 2006, TCF again convened a group of funders, key community volunteers, and partners dedicated to improving nonprofit capacity in order to become more organized and deliberate about sustaining these important efforts to increase support for the sector. This convening brought forth the concept of establishing a regional nonprofit resource center and planning began for the creation of the Partnership for Nonprofit Excellence.
TCF’s Board of Governors recognized that this endeavor would require a set of interdisciplinary components that would best be managed over the long-term as a “related entity.” To that end, the TCF Board approved the creation of the Partnership in November 2006 with the common goal of helping local nonprofits succeed. The Partnership is a separately incorporated 501(c)3 publicly supported charity, with a broad base of support from area funders and individual donors. The Community Foundation funds a portion of the Partnership’s annual operating budget and provides back office services and shared meeting space.
At the same time the Partnership was forming, ConnectNetwork (parent of former ConnectRichmond, now ConnectVA) — which had been launched in 2001 by Dr. Nancy Stutts with students at the University of Richmond in response to the local nonprofit sector’s request for a local communication tool – transitioned to VCU. TCF wanted to ensure that ConnectNetwork/ConnectRichmond continued to provide Richmond’s nonprofit community with the important on-line information resources and connections it still provides today. ConnectRichmond became the first Partnership affiliate in 2006 and today is a one-stop communication network linking individuals with the ideas, information, and resources that help the nonprofit community stay informed and work together.
HandsOn Greater Richmond (formerly Activate Richmond) was started by three women at a kitchen table who saw a need for coordinated online volunteer services in the Richmond region. Vanessa Diamond, Elaine Summerfield and Kristin Kaplan put out a call to action that was widely heard and they quickly grew into what is now the premier volunteer portal in the region. HandsOn joined the Partnership as an affiliate in December 2007 and now matches thousands of people and their interests to meaningful volunteer opportunities that create positive change in Central Virginia
HandsOn Greater Richmond was voted “Best Volunteer Group” in Richmond Magazine’s 2010 Best and Worst List. The program also received the 2010 Richmond History Makers for Innovative Solutions award which recognizes, honors and celebrates everyday citizens and outstanding organizations that are making a significant contribution to the Greater Richmond region.
In 2008, the Partnership contracted with a group of consultants to build an organizational capacity assessment tool and pilot a nonprofit consulting program, Consulting Solutions (now Organizational Solutions). The consultant-facilitated assessment was designed to provide nonprofits with an internal baseline across systems and a road map for continuous improvement. Organizational Solutions helps nonprofit leaders boards and staffs develop and cultivate vision, resilience, adaptability and accountability by providing in-depth, affordable organizational development services.
Today, we have an energetic executive director and a team of highly motivated program directors, managers and coordinators dedicated to providing the highest quality of service possible for the sector.