More than 100 members of Union County social services nonprofits and government agencies gathered recently to learn how they can be "Doing Good Better" at the 2019 Union County Nonprofit Consortium Networking Conference, held at Suburban Golf Club in Union.
The day-long conference featured panel discussions with nonprofit leaders and presentations by nonprofit experts intended to provide attendees with helpful insights into better managing their own organizations or departments. Equally important was the opportunity for conference attendees to network and create relationships that later allow collaboration for the benefits of those they support throughout the county, according to Sid Blanchard, associate executive director of community relations at Community Access Unlimited, which each year hosts the event.
CAU is a Union County-based, statewide nonprofit that strives to integrate people with disabilities and at-risk youth into the general community through comprehensive supports.
“There is ever-shrinking funding from the federal and state governments to support nonprofits and an ever-increasing mandate for services that is leaving agencies short of resources,” Blanchard said. “In this environment, it’s crucial for the Union County nonprofit community to annually look at all these issues and coordinate our ability to service those in the community.
“This conference is a chance for us to network, plan and support all the people we serve so they can be successful and contributing members of the community.”
Nonprofit consultant Dennis Miller served as the midday keynote speaker, talking about succession planning. Blanchard noted there is a crisis of leadership taking place in the nation’s nonprofit community as executive directors retire without having qualified successors to take their place.
Unlike common thought that succession planning relates only to the top position at an organization, Miller said a successful plan applies organization-wide.
“Succession planning is a vital pipeline of leaders at all levels within the organization when transition is necessary,” he said.
Miller said the key to a successful succession plan is defining strategic goals, outlining the skills organization leaders need in today’s environment, identifying potential internal candidates for leadership and building a comprehensive training and development program.
“Are your employees worth investing in or not?” he asked. “If you have an opening, do you really have to go to Indeed?”
Other keynote speakers included:
- Maxine Neuhauser, an attorney at Epstein, Becker & Green, who provided an update on developments at the New Jersey Department of Labor
- Linda Czipo, president and CEO of the Center for Non-Profits, who spoke about nonprofit advocacy
- Russ Cormier of Nutmeg Consultant, who talked about using Homeless Management Information Systems
- Cara Bradshaw, community impact officer at Family Promise National, who discussed volunteer management
There also were breakout sessions on housing, the insurance industry, children and domestic violence.
Conference attendees came away impressed.
“Networking is one of the things I get out of the conference,” said Debbie Morgan of Central Jersey Legal Services. “It’s a great opportunity to talk about issues and meet with other people who do similar work and build coalitions…It gives us the opportunity to do our jobs better.”
Cathy Chin with the Alman Group, lobbyists for nonprofits, said, “The environment has gotten more treacherous. This shows we’re not alone and not going away.”
Karen Dinsmore of the Union County Department of Human Services noted that collaboration between the county and its nonprofit community is essential for both to achieve their goals.
“We cannot deliver human services to the county without the nonprofits,” she said. “An event like today brings the nonprofit community together to network and provides resources to help the community of providers get stronger.”
The annual conference is sponsored by the Union County Non-Profit Consortium, which comprises 12 county nonprofits and the Union County Government.
To learn more about CAU, visit www.caunj.org or follow CAU on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
About Community Access Unlimited
Community Access Unlimited (CAU), celebrating its 40th year in 2019, supports people with special needs in achieving real lives in the community. CAU provides support and gives voice to adults and youth who traditionally have little power in society. CAU helps people with housing, life skills, employment, money management, socialization and civic activities. CAU also supports opportunities for advocacy through training in assertiveness, decision-making and civil rights. CAU currently serves more than 5,000 individuals and families, with the number served growing each year. For more information about CAU and its services, contact us by phone at 908.354.3040, online at www.caunj.org or by mail at 80 West Grand Street, Elizabeth, NJ 07202.