Thanks for those of you who have reached out to become Kindness Investors! The next few weeks are certain to be exciting!
As you know, I dedicate every Monday’s blog post to my weekly volunteer experiences. I recently stumbled upon an interesting organization called the Center for Nonprofit Success (CFNPS) whose mission is to provide the training, knowledge and resources to help nonprofit organizations succeed. I thought this would be an excellent group to help out.
CFNPS holds monthly seminars on a variety of topics salient to the success of nonprofits. Volunteers are utilized to help produce the events and I applied and was accepted to help with a session titled, “Strategic Alliances 101.”
I showed up at 7:30am as requested and searched for someone from CFNPS. I was surprised not to find anyone. There was one woman who seemed to be managing everything but she told me that she didn’t work for CFNPS and in fact was a volunteer herself. “I’ve volunteered one other time with them,” she told me.
“So who is from CFNPS,” I asked a few of the other volunteers.
Nobody seemed to know based on the silence and shoulder shrugs. As it turns out there was nobody there from the organization. They rely completely on volunteers. Part of me loves this model, the other part realizes that there were some downfalls as a result. None of us really knew anything about the organization and were unable to answer questions from the attendees.
Anyway, I got to work organizing the registration desk and welcoming attendees. It went rather smoothly thanks to the great team of volunteers. The room completely filled up, I’m guessing there were about 50 attendees. There were four speakers and the program got started just a few minutes after the 8:00am schedule start time. Although I thought the speakers were good and quite knowledgeable about their respective areas of expertise, I didn’t think they really addressed the topic that was listed in the program:
This Session will explore:
-How to know if a Strategic Alliance will benefit your organization
-The different kinds of alliances and partnerships and how nonprofits can benefit from them
– A step by step guide to setting up a partnership
-Identifying suitable partners
– Common mistakes to avoid with your strategic partner
– How to evaluate whether your alliance is producing a return on investment
You will leave this session with a full understanding of how and why a strategic alliance can benefit your organization, and the best ways to set one up.
The four presenters spoke almost exclusively about fundraising. After the second speaker, a few of the attendees began to ask me if they were at the right session. I assured them they were, however, I too noticed that the presentations didn’t seem to address the topics above and certainly didn’t give someone a “full understanding of how and why a strategic alliance can benefit your organization, and the best ways to set one up.” One attendee was really bothered and complained that he had taken time out of his busy schedule to attend, not to mention had paid $100 to participate. “This is a waste of time,” he said as he packed up his items and just left.
All in all it was an interesting experience. I actually got something out of the presentations since I am involved in fundraising in my profession, however, it was clear that many of the attendees found themselves utterly confused with the incongruence between the description and presentations.
CFNPS holds seminars in the following cities: Boston, Chicago, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, New York, San Francisco, Seattleand Washington, DC. Click here for a calendar of upcoming events.
Next Monday I will be sharing with you my experience volunteering at Miriam’s Kitchen! Stay tuned.