Nonprofit groups form alliance
Local nonprofit organizations are banding together to share resources, collaborate on projects, and figure out how to effectively communicate their stories and contributions to the community.
About 20 people representing a dozen nonprofits turned out Monday for a meeting that sprang up out of comments Southeast Alaska State Fair director Jessica Edwards said she repeatedly heard from leaders of other nonprofits.
Edwards, who became fair director in 2013, said she initially felt isolated in the position. There wasn’t a good outlet in town to bounce ideas off of or seek advice from on topics dealing with local governments, training and contracting.
Through informal conversations, Edwards learned she wasn’t the only one who felt isolated. “We didn’t have an alliance or a regular group to meet and I just felt that after having some of these conversations, I was hearing some of the same things from other people,” she said.
The group identified three goals at its first meeting: create a comprehensive community calendar, identify ways each nonprofit can succinctly “tell its story,” and conduct an economic survey and sustainability index to better quantify the effect nonprofits have on the local economy and quality of life.
Michael Marks, who attended the meeting on behalf of the three nonprofit boards he sits on, said nonprofits need to develop strategies in the face of increasing costs and decreasing revenues.
“We are all undergoing the same situations where the electric power got raised and now water and sewer is getting raised. If you have a building, that’s chipping away at your earnings,” Marks said.
Haines Borough community and economic development director Bill Mandeville attended the meeting and supported the group’s efforts to create a comprehensive event calendar to help better coordinate schedules.
For example, such a calendar might be used if the borough’s tourism department or the new Aspen Hotel were trying to coordinate a conference in Haines. They might look at the calendar and see the Chilkat Center was planning a play around the same time.
“They take a look at that and they say, ‘Well, let’s schedule that around the Chilkat Center.’ So they go to the conference for two or three days and then stick around for the play,” Mandeville said.
Expanding calendars out one to two years into the future versus one month into the future would also be beneficial, Mandeville said. “One of the shortfalls now is the calendars tend to be like one month. But if we want to put together a package that appeals to the cruise ships in 2017, then we might want to be thinking about well, what are we going to be doing in 2017 that we could say to the cruise ships, ‘You don’t want to miss this?’”
Edwards said the group will meet about once a month.