January 22, 2019
Mass. Nonprofits Plan to Hire and Add Volunteers in 2018

January 1, 2018 — Massachusetts nonprofits plan to add staff and recruit more volunteers in the months ahead, and while some are wary of fundraising uncertainties, in the main they seem, as one executive director put it, "optimistic and believe things are looking up."

Top trends nonprofits will face over the next 12 months, according to the National Council of Nonprofits, include greater service demands, albeit with greater resource constraints, and growing awareness that every board member, as well as the organization itself, needs to be a strong advocate for its mission.

Nonprofits also will be challenged to provide leadership on diversity, inclusion, and equity issues, tighten cybersecurity, and address the gender pay gap in connection with preparing for the coming wave of Baby Boomer retirements.

How changes in federal tax policy will affect charitable giving remains to be seen. Massachusetts nonprofit leaders fear that the increase in the standard deduction for individual tax returns will lead to a drop in giving since fewer people will itemize deductions and therefore have less incentive to donate to nonprofits. (See more on fundraising strategies for 2018.)

Following are plans and expectations of some Massachusetts nonprofits.

Program growth is driving the need for more funds for One Can Help in Newton, which provides funding to economically disadvantaged children and parents involved in the juvenile court system.

Now that it has a statewide focus, One Can Help is looking to "to find funders who want to fund statewide systemic change," noted Anne Bader-Martin, founder and executive director, who is looking to hire a new grant writer.

"We are optimistic and believe things are looking up," she said.

Fundraising and recruiting qualified staff are the top challenges in the year ahead for Pathways, Inc. in Lynn, which provides education and training services to help adults build economic self-sufficiency.

CEO Edward Tirrell said that while the fundraising environment is uncertain, Pathways anticipates creating new management level staff positions to advance new programs. Tirrell also is looking to enhance collaboration with education and training providers.

Attracting more volunteers and finding more space over the next year are the biggest challenges facing Fresh Start Furniture Bank in Hudson, which helps recycle donated furniture and housewares at no charge to people in need.

Geoff Schultz, president of Fresh Start, noted, "Our growth rate is 25%-plus per year and we need to keep adding volunteers to keep up with demand." He plans to add a part-time volunteer coordinator.

Beyond that, he expressed concerns that government-funded safety net programs could see budgets slashed just when incentives individual donations to charities may drop due to changes in federal tax policy.

With Framingham becoming a city today (it had been a town), Amazing Things Arts Center in Framingham, which seeks to foster a diverse community of artists, arts supporters, and arts appreciators spanning all ages, cultures, and interests, needs to resolve a loan issue relating to the city-owned building it occupies.

In addition, Executive Director Ellen Sturgis said she is worried about already-scarce arts and culture funding that may be further reduced due to federal budget cuts. However, she expects donations to hold steady in 2018 and will give more attention to winning grants to supplement earned income. The center will be looking to reduce costs by making its building more energy efficient.

The top issue in 2018 for Brighton Marine in Boston, which provides health care, housing, and social services to armed forces veterans, is ensuring veterans and their families know about the Greater Boston Coordinated Veterans Services network and how to request assistance. To that end, it will look to increase providers and clients in the network.

If its workload increases, Brighton Marine would add a full-time intake specialist to its staff.

Commenting on the planned ground breaking of 100 units of affordable housing this year, Bob Notch, program development officer, said, "After years of planning and collaboration, we will see physical changes to our campus that highlight real progress in providing a hub of housing and support for veterans and their families."

Sue Paresky, senior vice president for development at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, which engages in cutting-edge research to provide care to adults and children with cancer, and the Jimmy Fund, which raises funds for Dana-Farber, anticipates expanded fundraising efforts in 2018 to fuel expanded research and patient care.

She expects "robust" fundraising results in 2018, based on first quarter results which were ahead of plan for the year that began Oct. 1. A new fundraising software implementation, though initially somewhat difficult, is expected to improve functionality. Additional staff will also help.

Dana-Farber will also flesh out plans for a new, comprehensive capital campaign.

Sturgis said she hopes to add a half-time position publicity/marketing this year, which would boost her staff to 2.75 full-time-equivalent employees.

EVkids, Boston, which provides tutoring and summer camp programs to inner-city youth, primarily in the Dorchester and Roxbury neighborhoods, will focus initial efforts in 2018 on getting a third tutoring site up and running, which will involve promoting current staffers to oversee it.

Jaclyn Barbarow, director of giving at EVKids, said the fundraising environment is strong, which should support efforts to renew several major, long-term pledges. She also anticipates continued fundraising growth via the organization's annual gala.

The Massachusetts Marine Trades Association, based in Foxboro, which works to advance the marine trades and the boating public, will focus on working with members in 2018 on workforce development to address "a large amount of unfilled current positions in Massachusetts which has negative effective on business operations across the board," according to Executive Director Randall Lyons.

To get there, he said he will concentrate efforts on improving member support and aggressively pursuing grants and funding related to improving the boating industry labor market, but without adding to staff.

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