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East County Wednesday, Sep. 4, 2019 8 months ago

Nonprofits learn expansion techniques

The Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance hosts an event to help local nonprofits grow.
by: Liz Ramos Staff Writer

From A Life Story Foundation to SUGAR to the Manatee YMCA, Lakewood Ranch has many nonprofits working to make a difference in the community.

But some of those nonprofits struggle to find volunteers or people to serve on their boards.

Dan Sidler, the Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance director of communications and marketing, said the good news is that Lakewood Ranch has a true sense of community.

“It’s a group of people who want to be involved with the community and want to give back, and we try to offer avenues to do that,” Sidler said.

To help educate nonprofits on recruitment strategies and growing their organizations, the alliance hosted an event with Manatee Community Foundation to teach nonprofits how to recruit volunteers and board members as well as obtain corporate sponsorships. About 60 members of nonprofits attended the presentation Aug. 28 at Keiser University in Lakewood Ranch.

“We always talk about, ‘How do you engage the community within an organization?’” Sidler said. “We’re a nonprofit ourselves, so we struggle with these same things. It’s from the first interaction with an individual. How do they become your champions?”

Susan Bowie, the executive director of the Manatee Community Foundation, said nonprofits need to figure out their “why” — the reason behind their work — and must be able to share it with people to encourage them to volunteer or donate.

Some nonprofits partner with one another to achieve their goals.

Katie Becker, a senior corporate relationship manager for United Way Suncoast, said United Way wants to “continue to connect with and be part of our community partners.”

“United Way is a reflection of our community,” Becker said. “We are an organization that acts on behalf of our community, and that includes our nonprofit community. We are not the experts in everything, and we rely on the amazing nonprofit partners available in this Manatee area to help do that and work alongside us.”

Although resources and funding can be limited with a large number of nonprofits, Becker said nonprofits including the United Way don’t want to detract from one another.

“We’re trying to complement that and bring like strategies together,” she said. “Resources are always something that nonprofits look to in the community. But we believe that if you elevate the work, the resources will come.”

Stefanie Guido, one of the founders of SUGAR Volunteers, which is a nonprofit that provides youth opportunities to earn community service hours, said her nonprofit is constantly in search of other organizations “in need of manpower” because “ultimately the students want to volunteer.”

Erik Hanson, a member of the Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance board of directors and the chair of the community engagement committee, said that he hopes to see nonprofits have increased involvement with community members, businesses and other Lakewood Ranch-area nonprofit organizations.

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