Leadership Greater Hartford Connects More Than 400 Volunteers with Nonprofit Board Service

In just over six years, more than 400 people in the Greater Hartford area have joined the board of directors of local nonprofit organizations, through an innovative matching program run by Leadership Greater Hartford.  The program has proven both popular and successful, and is seen as a win-win for the nonprofit organization in need of expertise and individuals looking for ways to contribute to the well-being of the community. The Leaders on Board program has matched 404 individuals – from young professionals to retirees - with more than 100 nonprofit organizations since January 2009.  The program attracts individuals with an interest in serving on a board, and looking to develop their leadership skills and serve the community.  Potential board members receive training in nonprofit organizational structure and management, are introduced to the role and responsibilities of board members and are encouraged to explore their own individual skills. The training session provides the foundation for effective board service. LOB no Express Logo 34

Leaders on Board, unique in Connecticut and perhaps the largest initiative of its kind in the region, provides a critical connection for nonprofit organizations who are looking for board members that have been trained in the basics of board membership and have expressed an interest in serving on a nonprofit board.  In some cases, individuals’ employers encourage such community activism, in others, the person is seeking to give back to the community or broader their involvement in issues that are of particular interest.  Corporations and businesses participate in the Leaders on Board program by offering board governance training to encourage their employees who are interested in serving the community.

The program works in a round-robin matching session, where representatives of nonprofit organizations conduct brief one-on-one interviews.  At the end of the session, both the individual and the organizations indicate where they think there might be a match.  If there’s agreement, there are further follow-up conversations to determine if selection to a specific board should go forward.  Often, the answer is yes.

“I decided to participate in leaders on Board because I was looking for a way to become a board member on a local, small to medium-sized nonprofit organization," explained Bill Valentine, Donor Relations Manager, United Way of Central and Northeastern CT. "Leaders on Board is the ideal way to learn the basic information about the responsibilities of being a board member and to learn about the organizations that are looking for new board members.”

At times, prospective board members learn of nonprofit organizations they had not been aware of or knew little about.  For people new to the region, and even those who have spent a career in Greater Hartford, the variety of nonprofit organizations, and they work they pursue with various populations, can be eye-opening.  The list of organizations that have placed members on boards through the Express Match process is quite impressive – a who’s who of community organizations.logo_block

In 2013, the Association of Leadership Programs, a national organization with affiliates across the country, presented Leadership Greater Hartford with its first “Excellence in Innovation” award for the implementation and success of the Leaders on Board program.  Recent years have also seen greater diversity among prospective board members, and interest by nonprofit organizations in having boards that more closely reflect the diversity of the community they serve.

"I had been considering pursuing board membership for a few years when The Junior League of Hartford offered its members a chance to participate in Leaders on Board," recalled Patricia Sasser, Dean of Students at Loomis Chaffee.  "The Leaders on Board orientation provided great information on what a prospective board member needs to know about board service; it definitely set me up for success.  I felt prepared and excited when I attend my first Leaders on Board Express Match. Having a chance to speak with different organizations about their mission and purpose opened my eyes to all the different types of organizations I could support. I found several that really spoke to my heart and was excited when I was matched with an organization I admired."

Among those who have recently accepted board of directors positions, following the most recent Leaders on Board session:

  • Ann Means - Hartford Preservation Alliance
  • Chris Whelan - First Choice Health Centers
  • Sue Murphy & George Montowski - Hebrew Health Care
  • Nancy Frede - Hartford Knights Youth Foundation
  • Jessica Dansereau & Veda White - Lupus Foundation of America - CT Chapter
  • Veda White - Trinity Academy
  • Michael Fournier, Richard Moriarty and Patrick Garrity - Kinsella Arts, Inc.
  • Chris Thomas - Mental Health Association of CT
  • Jim Barrett - St. Philip House
  • Bernard Jenkins, Meri Horowitz and Gary Brochu - Coram Deo Recovery, Inc.
  • Richard Moriarty and Patrick Garrity - Kinsella Arts, Inc.
  • Karen Adamson, Maia Brooks, and Anthony Viggiano - Project Genesis
  • Aaron Clay and Jasmine Baten - West Hartford YMCA

Leaders on Board operates with support from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.  For more information, contact Mae Ryan Maloney at 860.951.6161 x1900 or email Mae.Maloney@leadershipgh.org. The mission of Leadership Greater Hartford is to develop, connect and inspire diverse leaders to build strong and vibrant communities.


Nonprofits Across CT Have Economic and Jobs Impact, New Database Shows

The interactive webpage was constructed and database developed prior to Election Day as a means of providing information about nonprofit organizations that their supporters could use to reach out to legislative candidates to advocate for the many charitable organizations in their local districts.  With the winning candidates now determined, the database may prove even more helpful in advocating for nonprofit organizations in what promises to be a tight state budget in 2015. The database, developed by Connecticut-based Blueprint for Impact, is an “advocacy tool” providing a range of data and information, broken down on interactive maps by Senate district and by House district.   Nonprofit organizations provide a wide variety of services throughout local communities, including some supported with state funds.  Blueprint-Horizontal

Among the categories of data available are the number of employees working in the nonprofit sector along with the total compensation paid to those employees and the payroll taxes paid and total revenue of nonprofits within each district.

In addition, the site reports on the value of grants made by nonprofit organizations, and the average age of the nonprofits operating in each district. The age of each nonprofit is the number of years since the IRS ruling on tax-exempt status was provided. In Connecticut, there are many nonprofits that have been tax exempt for over 50 years. Older organizations may be more influential in their community.

senate 13The points on the map were organized by NTEE category. NTEE is the National Taxonomy of Exempt Entities, which categorizes nonprofits based on their social purpose.

The mission of Blueprint for Impact is to “help nonprofits use data to rethink, reboot, and scale their social impact. We direct our impact into each of those three aspects.”  Christopher D. Brechlin  is the Founder of Blueprint for Impact, a registered Benefit Corporation based in Hartford, that offers a collection of data tools, services, and expertise specifically for nonprofitsonline-library.

The data used to populate the maps was accessed using the National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS) Enhanced Extract of IRS Financial Data, 2013. NCCS allows users to download data processed by the IRS during calendar year 2013 as submitted on forms 990, 990EZ, and 990PF. All data is therefore “as is,” or as it was reported on the forms to the IRS.

Nonprofits Nationally Suffer From Late Government Payments, CT Tackling Issue

Connecticut is one of eight states that has begun to respond to a serious problem facing nonprofit organizations in a time of tight budgets and reductions in state funding:  late payments and duplicative requirements by government agencies.  A new report from the Urban Institute says the problem – which grew more serious during the recession – may be easing somewhat, but still has a way to go.

The 57-page report, “Nonprofit-Government Contracts and Grants:  Findings from the 2013 National Survey,” indicated that “Joint government-nonprofit working groups in Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Texas are tackling issues, such as duplicative documents and audits and late payments, with the goal of improving government processes and the ability of nonprofits to win and successfully implement contract and grant requirements.”

The data, according to the report, is “a sobering reminder that human service nonprofits are continuing to wait extended periods of time for payments.”  The national survey indicates that 22 percenonprofit report covernt of nonprofits received payments 61-90 days late from local governments, 24 percent from state governments and 20 percent from the federal government – all increases from 2009 survey data.  The number of nonprofits experiencing late payments of more than 90 day dropped slightly for local and state government payments, but grew slightly for federal government payments.

The Urban Institute report outlined a series of recommendations for governments and nonprofits to improve systematic relationships; state-by-state data is due to be released next month.

A 22-member Connecticut panel appointed by Gov. Dannel Malloy, in a report issued last fall, found that “some state agencies do not pay contractors in a timely manner consistent with agreed upon timeframes and thereby create additional hardship and costs of borrowing for nonprofit service providers.”

The group recommended that “the State of Connecticut adopt Principles to Guide the State-Private Nonprofit Provider Partnership, intended to promote a fair, effeCT Report coverctive, responsive, transparent and accountable partnership between nonprofit providers and their state government funders.” It also called for revisions to the state’s procurement standards, streamlining data gathering, and “payment rates that cover the true cost of services.”

Nationally, nearly half of organizations reported that they experienced limitations on the percentage of government funds that could be used for program and organization administration costs. Approximately one-quarter of organizations with a contract indicated that they had to share in the cost of the contract and one-half of grantees said they had a matching requirement associated with a grant.

Reflecting the fiscal challenges faced by nonprofits, the report found that “more than 40 percent of respondents turned to their reserves to make ends meet and about 25 percent of nonprofits reduced the number of employees on their payroll. About 14 percent of organizations reduced the number of clients served and almost 11 percent cut programs.”  In addition, 21 percent of respondents nationwide said their experience with government contracts and grants was worse than in the prurban institute chartevious year, while 6 percent said it had improved.

The report concluded that “all types of nonprofits reported problems with late and insufficient payments, complex and burdensome application and reporting processes, and changes made to contracts and grants after they have been approved.”

Late payments have the biggest impact on human-service and health organizations, which receive the lion’s share f all government spending on nonprofits, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reported. Overall, the national study found that:

  • government agencies entered into approximately 350,000 contracts and grants with about 56,000 nonprofit organizations;
  • on average, nonprofits have six contracts and/or grants per organization; the median is three; and
  • governments paid $137 billion to nonprofit organizations for services (in 2012)

The Urban Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan policy research and educational organization that examines the social, economic, and governance problems facing the nation.

More Social Capital = Fewer Traffic Accidents, Research Study Finds

If you’ve never made a connection between traffic accidents and social capital, you’re probably not alone.  However, the Harvard Business Review (HBR) is reporting on research by Matthew G. Nagler of the City College of New York which found, perhaps surprisingly, that a 5% increase in the average level of agreement with the statement "most people are honest" within a U.S. state results in a decline in traffic fatalities in that state by about 11%. The “most people are honest” statement is a measure of trust in others that is an indicator of the state's level of social capital, sometimes defined as a willingness to engage in community activities. Less-conscientious people who reject civic engagement presumably drive more recklessly, HBR reported.

Nagler’s abstract for the researchCarAccidentSafety_main_022, to be published next month in the journal Economic Inquiry, explains thatevidence that social capital reduces traffic accidents and related death and injury, using data from a 10‐year panel of 48 U.S. states show that social capital has a statistically significant and sizable negative effect on crashes, traffic fatalities, serious traffic injuries, and pedestrian fatalities that holds up across a range of specifications.”

In case you were wondering, Nagler – an Associate Professor in the Department of Economics - did not want the research unduly impacted by snow-related accidents, so he used only data from summer months.  The research data used was from 1997 to 2006. His research paper is entitled “Does Social Capital Promote Safety on the Roads?”

The death toll in the U.S. from traffic accidents has been approximately 43,000 deaths annually, according to the report. Traffic fatalities remain a major cause of death at all ages and the leading cause for persons under the age of 44.

In the paper’s conclusion, Nagler notes that the results of his study “parallel prior findings with respect to social capital’s beneficial effects on economic growth and various health outcomes.”  In 2004, a study by three University of Connecticut researchers found that social capital is associated with decreased risk of hunger.“Households may have similarly limited financial or food resources, but households with higher levels of social capital are less likely to experience hunger,” they concluded.

Nonprofit Density Impacts Unemployment Rate; CT Misses Top 10

Communities with better civic health have weathered the recent recession far better – and experienced considerably smaller increases in unemployment – than other communities that faced similar economic circumstances, according to a report by the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC).  Counties across the nation that were rich in nonprofit organizations lost considerably fewer jobs than the low-nonprofit counties, the study revealed. A state-by-state analysis by the organization placed Connecticut in the second tier of states in both the density of nonprofit organizations, and social cohesion (interacting with friends and neighbors), the two measures used in the study, released in 2012.  Connecticut ranked between #11 and #20 in each category, just outside the first tier, top-10 states.

For individuals who held jobs in 2008, the odds of becoming unemployed were cut in half if they lived in a community with many nonprofit organizations rather than one with a few nonprofits, even if the two communities were otherwise similar, theNCoC study found.  Among the New England states, Maine, Rhode Island and Vermont placed in the top ten.

Overall, counties with more nonprofits per capita prior to the recession had lower unemployment in 2006. And while almost all of the counties lost jobs during the recession years, the counties with more nonprofits per capita lost fewer jobs between 2006 and 2009. Both patterns remain even when holding education, median income, housing prices, and other economic factors constant, according to the report.  Counties ranking in the top 10% in nonprofit density experienced an increase of only 2 percentage points in their unemployment rate between 2006 and 2009, compared with 5.1 percentage points for the counties in the bottom 10% in nonprofit density.

These results suggest – according to the report – that nonprofits may bring economic benefits by directly employing people and also by changing the economic climate of the whole community. Nonprofits support civic engagement and social cohesion; in turn, when citizens feel committed to their communities and connected to their fellow residents, they are more likely to make decisions that boost local employment.

The study used statistical models to investigate the relationship between civic health and unemployment in the 50 states, 942 metro areas, and more than 3,100 counties since 2006.  NCoC was chartered by Congress intop 10 1953 to harness the patriotic energy and national civic involvement surrounding World War II. In 2009, Congress  expanded the organization’s Civic Health Assessment to become the nation’s largest and most definitive measure of civic engagement.


Nonprofit Organizations Help Boost Voter Numbers, Study Finds

If one concurs with the adage that all politics is local, it should come as no surprise that the dust has barely settled on the state and national elections of 2012 as the focus shifts to the municipal–level elections of 2013. A Massachusetts-based organization devoted to increasing the role of nonprofit organizations in spurring voter interest and participation is already publicizing its “Voter Participation Starter Kit for Nonprofits and Social Service Agencies,” available for web download, coming off what it describes as the success of 2012.

The benchmark National Election Exit Poll showed that the lower income, younger, and diverse populations typically served by nonprofits accounted for a greater share of voter turnout than ever before. While some of this can be attributed to population increases, it was also aided by unprecedented voter education and engagement efforts from the nonprofit and civic sector, according to the organization reported.

“Nonprofits are among the nation’s most trusted messengers. An annual Harris poll consistently ranks nonprofits among the few sectors (small businesses are another) that respondents would like to have more rather than less influ­ence in government.”  That observation published in The Nonprofit Quarterly, from George Pillsbury, MPA, founder and executive direc­tor of Nonprofit VOTE, underscores the organization’s initiative.

He adds:  “Nonprofits of the 501(c)(3) variety are pre­sumed to have a limited capacity for promoting political participation because laws prohibit them from engaging in partisan politics to support or oppose a candidate for public office. Yet nonprof­its’ inherent civic engagement assets make them a potent force for political and electoral engage­ment, further strengthened by their nonpartisan approach.”

Organizations including the Connecticut Association of Nonprofits — a long-time partner of Nonprofit VOTE — have led this transition in recent years by bringing voter engagement into the sector mainstream. According to the organization’s newsletter, for the 2012 election they pointed a spotlight on the sector by sending educational materials on the needs of nonprofits to all state candidates.

“Elected officials pay attention to which communities and which populations turn out and are generally more responsive to organizations involved in registering voters and encouraging turnout,” emphasized Sophie Lehman, Communications Director for Nonprofit VOTE.

The National Election Exit Poll is the most relied on exit poll conducted by Edison Research on behalf of ABC News, Associated Press, CBS News, CNN, Fox News, and NBC News.