BETHEL, NY— A sold-out crowd packed Bethel Woods Center for the Arts on March 6th for the Third Annual Nonprofit Leadership Summit. They came to hear from key leaders in the not-for-profit field and glean ideas for collaboration, innovation and best practices. They also came in search of practical solutions to the problems plaguing many of the regions nonprofits. The excitement in the room was tangible as 150 people representing 70 nonprofit agencies gathered for a full day of networking and professional development. “So much has been accomplished just by bringing the group together,” noted Amanda Langseder, one of the event co-chairs. “The Summit is an opportunity for our nonprofit sector to showcase its size, strength and value in the region.”Kicking off the Summit was Doug Sauer, Executive Director of New York Council on Nonprofits (NYCON), with his presentation, “Beyond Collaboration.” Sauer offered an array of ideas for collaboration ranging from a simple shared service to an all-out merger of organizations. He stressed the need for New York State to simplify statutory requirements and regulatory and bureaucratic processes that are so costly and time consuming they often result in stifling any movement on the part of nonprofits toward merger or consolidation.
The lunchtime keynote speaker, Greg Berman, director of the Center for Court Innovation and recipient of the National Peter F. Drucker Award for Non-profit Innovation inspired attendees with “Lessons from the Front Lines of Innovation.” He stressed that fear of failure can often result in organizations becoming static and not moving forward. He urged them to see failure as part of the learning process and a necessary step on the road to success. Sullivan County District Attorney, James Farrell, attended the Summit to hear Berman’s presentation.
One of the day’s highlights was the presentation of the first Nonprofit Innovation Award. Three finalists were each given an opportunity to present their projects to the Summit audience and panel of judges. The Community Reporting Alliance, a youth-run community newspaper from Livingston Manor walked away with the $5,000 first place prize award. The two runners up, Crystal Run Village and Rural & Migrant Ministries, each received $500 awards.
Throughout the day, summit attendees were offered professional workshops on organizational assessment tools, social media myths, succession planning and recruiting volunteers. The day concluded with a speed networking reception, giving participants an additional chance to get to know their nonprofit colleagues and seek collaboration opportunities. “Networking is a very important part of the event,” noted event co-chair Linda Hartley. “Building cooperation and trust among our local nonprofits is the first step to fostering collaboration.”