September 25, 2018
Mass. Nonprofits Leaders Told They Need to Explain Impact

November 2, 2017 — Changing national and local spending priorities mean that Massachusetts nonprofits must become more adept at explaining—to funders and legislators alike—the impact they're having on the issues they seek to address, a statewide gathering of nonprofit leaders was told yesterday.

Nonprofits unintentionally pit themselves against each other in their quest for funding, but they will succeed better over the longer term by explaining how they are partnering with other organizations to solve a problem, not just delivering programs, according to Dan Cardinali, president and chief executive officer of Independent Sector, a national coalition of nonprofits, foundations, and corporate giving programs.

"Can we put our brand aside long enough to be problem solvers," he asked, speaking to 600 Massachusetts nonprofit leaders at an annual conference in Framingham convened by the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network (MNN), the state's nonprofit trade association.

Noting that nonprofits typically promote their mission when lobbying legislators, Cardinali suggested that nonprofits should also explain their economic impact: "Massachusetts nonprofits don't just constitute 17% of the workforce; they pay a lot in taxes."

Acknowledging that funders often don’t want to underwrite staff and other overhead expenses, Cardinali said nonprofits need to better manage their message around impact and outcomes.

"You need to say that people are our programs, and that it takes staff, working with policy makers and organizations, to address and solve problems that government and businesses haven't figured out," he said.

Two Mass. Nonprofit Leaders Receive Lifetime Achievement Awards

MNN conferred Lifetime Achievement Awards on two Massachusetts nonprofit leaders at the conference:

Joan Wallace-Benjamin, who recently stepped down as president and chief executive officer of The Home for Little Wanderers, a Boston-based nonprofit that is the nation’s oldest child and family services agency, where she had led for the last 15 years.

MNN cited her for being "A dedicated nonprofit professional who committed her life to serving the people of the Commonwealth, Joan is being honored for work empowering and inspiring countless organizations to fulfill varied and important missions of service, research, and advocacy."

Michael Weeks, president and CEO of the Providers’ Council, a statewide association of health and human service agencies, which he has led since 1998, who was honored "for his dedication to serving nonprofits statewide and nationally, working in all capacities."

MNN lauded Weekes for increasing the capacity of hundreds of health and human service nonprofit providers while serving as the official voice of the community-based nonprofit human services field.

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