Chambers of commerce like those in Yorktown, Somers, Mahopac-Carmel and elsewhere have a vital purpose in supporting and promoting a healthy, growing economy composed of local businesses that are predicated on the profit motive.

At the same time, points out Deb Milone, executive director of the Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber of Commerce, “Our region has a large nonprofit business sector.” 

That sector now is being more actively enfranchised by the chamber, which earlier this year launched a Nonprofit Committee.

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As someone who runs a nonprofit (Harrison Apar Field of Dreams Foundation, in memory of our son) and who just joined the board of the Gateway chamber, I was interested in learning more about this new initiative.

“As part of the mission of the chamber to promote and open opportunities for its members,” explains Milone, “it is important that we address challenges the nonprofit business community faces. The committee was started to provide a forum for our nonprofit chamber members to exchange ideas, discuss challenges and find ways to improve their programs, fundraising efforts, marketing and community relations.” (See full mission statement at end of article.)

The committee is co-chaired by Lucille Geraci-Miranda of Geranda Projects, a consulting practice for nonprofits, and by Claudia Pollak, an attorney who represents small businesses and nonprofits.

Through Geranda Projects, Lucille Geraci-Miranda mentors, educates and guides nonprofits “in the process that will give them tools to succeed,” helping them define and achieve their goals through smart strategies. She’s been involved in the Hudson Valley philanthropic community for 17 years, including at Con Edison, Hudson Valley Hospital, the Salvation Army and other organizations.

Through her law practice, Pollak has represented small businesses and nonprofits for more than 15 years. She specializes in business law and nonprofit law, including starting new businesses and charities, investments, licensing, contracts and protection of intellectual property, including filing for federal trademark protection.

Lucille says, “The Nonprofit Committee was formed in response to a great demand for programs and issues affecting the Nonprofit Community.”  

Interest in the formation of such a group first was validated in February of this year when an open house for nonprofits announced by the Gateway Chamber resulted in a packed room of organizations. They were there to find out more and to help shape the direction of the committee, which is open to all Hudson Valley nonprofit organizations and to chamber members that offer services to nonprofits.

To gather market intelligence, a survey was sent to the Nonprofit Community to understand what professional development topics they would like to see presented. As a result, the first meeting of the seminar series was held this past spring. The topic was “The Nonprofit Board: From Roles & Responsibilities to Policies & Procedures.”

More seminars are planned for the fall. For more information on the Nonprofit Committee, contact the Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber of Commerce at 914-737-3600.

Mission Statement of the Nonprofit Committee of Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber of Commerce: The mission of the Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber of Commerce’s Nonprofit Committee is to provide meaningful opportunities for nonprofit staff, managers and board members to come together, collaborate, and embrace the importance of growth and sustainability. The Nonprofit Committee serves as a resource for ongoing professional development and a forum for sharing best practices. In addition, the Nonprofit Committee provides opportunities for networking, forming collaborative relationships and bringing visibility to issues impacting the nonprofit community.

Bruce Apar is chief content officer of Pinpoint Marketing & Design, a Google Partner Agency. Its Adventix division helps performing arts venues increase ticket sales. He also is an actor, a community volunteer, and a contributor to several periodicals, including Westchester Magazine. Follow him as Bruce the Blog on social media. Reach him at bapar@pinpointmarketingdesign.com or 914-275-6887.