Nonprofits Revisited: The Training Institute

March 20, 2015

I wrote The Nonprofit Sector aka My Former Life almost eight months ago. Buried in the recitation of the remnants of that life was “tried to start a training institute.” It’s my subject today.

Many years ago a local nonprofit ran an inclusion program, designed to train and place minorities on nonprofit boards. There was nothing especially unusual about the program. Similar programs existed—and exist today—in many communities. The programs offer training in how to serve in the nonprofit community, along with a placement effort. Nothing wrong with any of this … but, and this is the question no one could answer, “Why do we assume minorities need training and white people don’t?”

I’ve served on many boards, committees, commissions, task forces, etc. Some functioned better than others, but I can say with a high degree of confidence that there’s nothing about Caucasian origins (or a well-stuffed bank account, for that matter) that provides the skill-set those entities need. Nothing!

Along about 2008 my friend Stephen Golden and I went looking for the training, to see what was out there. We found a group which was providing some sort of training, so off we went. “Poor” describes, charitably, what we first saw. We stuck with it, though, and in our third contact we met up with Jenny Carrillo, nonprofit consultant. Jenny’s program was great; alas, it was one session, about 14 people were there, and it had no context, i.e., it wasn’t part of complete and well-designed curiculum.

At a break I introduced myself and, promptly, we had a partnership. “We need a comprehensive training program for board members, no matter who they are,” we decided, and off we went. Sessions with the nonprofit community, a home with a nonprofit, focus groups and … the Great Recession followed. Jenny started Alexander Carrillo Consulting with Laura Alexander—they’re exceptional women in the nonprofit sector—and I joined Mesch, Clark & Rothschild, P.C. The nonprofit with which we were working on the training institute lost its funding.

“Dead in the water” we were until summer 2013. Then, with two other talented women—Evan Mendelson and Laura Penny—we tried to get started again. Alas, another nonprofit stepped in, said it “had the issue” and, then, nothing.

So? This past Monday night I was introduced to the Partners in Leadership Institute, a creation of Laura Alexander, Jenny Carrillo, and Anne Maley Consulting. (Anne is another great consultant, and I think she was my first nonprofit mentor.) The program resembles almost not at all what we were working on years ago, but it meets the need head-on, and in a creative way! It provides for customized training, follow-up, and it gets nonprofit leaders out of the silos in which too many reside, only able to see what’s going on in their shops.

Click for more information but, basically, the program provides a participating nonprofit with assessments—of the organization and its CEO and participating board leader(s)—coaching, training sessions with the other participating nonprofits, board training, follow-up evaluations, and post-program contact. (One of my friends has been running a similar program for years in rural New England. It works!)

Tucson needs this program! We have many—too many—charitable organizations, run by good, caring, talented people who need some knowledge and assistance. Nothing about life, whatever your circumstances, trains you up for the service on a board. And, while much about board service involves the skills we learned in kindergarten—listening, being respectful, working hard, etc.—successful organizations need people with the knowledge and skills they will get from the Partners in Leadership Institute.

I’m pleased as punch that, finally, we have a program in Tucson that meets the need so many of us saw years ago. If you’re in the nonprofit sector click for more information. If you’re aware of an organization in need of help—which means you’re aware of an organization!—click. In fact, just click! And go Laura, Jenny, and Anne!


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