THE NEW YORK COUNCIL OF NONPROFITS: SERVICES AND RESOURCES TO BOOST YOUR BOTTOM LINE

By James D’Ambrosio

JamesProfile1TwitterThroughout my career, I’ve sought information and presented new ideas to management and colleagues to help organizations move forward. In the charitable sector, The New York Council of Nonprofits is a resource I believe can benefit agencies. NYCON, a 501 (C)(3) statewide association whose mission is to increase the capacity of nonprofits and enhance the quality of life in New York State, has 3,200+ members and offers many professional services and programs agencies can draw on. This is of particular importance for start-ups and nonprofits with limited resources. Headquartered in Albany, there are regional offices in New York City, Poughkeepsie, Oneonta and Rochester.

PROGRAMS AND MEMBERSHIP INFORMATION

The following is a sampling of offerings available from NYCON:

♦ CONSULT WITH EXPERTS: Get advice and assistance from nonprofit experts in the areas of finance, governance, legal, marketing, human resources, benefits, risk management, etc., by phone or e-mail. Services are free with a corporate membership.

TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE: Access to quality, affordable technical assistance. NYCON works with agencies on issues such as board governance, fiscal procedures, budgeting, personnel policies, bylaws, compliance issues, collaborations, and more. Tailored to individual needs, most services begin at $95 an hour.

♦ EMPLOYEE BENEFITS: Through Council Services Plus, an insurance subsidiary, NYCON provides information and products and services helping nonprofits develop an affordable benefits program for employees.

TRAINING, EDUCATION & CONFERENCES: A recent NYCON survey indicated that workshops, trainings and events were rated as one of the top benefits. Members receive significant discounts and can apply for scholarships to attend conferences.

AFFORDABLE MEMBERSHIP: Membership fees are scaled to operating budgets: Organizations under $50,000 pay $60 per year; those with budgets from $1,000,000 – $1,999,999 pay $160; and agencies with budgets exceeding $10,000,000 pay $460 (there’s additional brackets in-between). According to the Council, the average nonprofit member pays $110. In addition, individuals can join as a Citizen Member for $75 (I’m a Citizen Member.) Benefits for individuals include a bi-monthly e-mail newsletter, discounted rates for trainings and workshops, free copies of select publications, voting privileges at the Annual Meeting, networking opportunities and more. (Note: membership follows the calendar year, January-December.)

GROUP PURCHASING PROGRAMS: Group purchasing programs are available for office supplies, payroll, conference calling, fund-raising software, technology assistance and more, with potential significant cost savings. Click here to see a comprehensive listing.

A FINAL WORD

While NYCON can work with all nonprofits in New York State, only members receive discounted rates and benefits. Given the many challenges facing nonprofits today, I present this information for those who may not be aware of this resource. For organizations outside New York, the NATIONAL COUNCIL OF NONPROFITS provides contact information for 36 state associations throughout the U.S. VIEW THE LIST HERE.

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT NYCON

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QUESTIONS TO READERS:

A) If you’re a NYCON member, how has your agency benefitted?

B) If you’re not a member, would you consider joining?

 

FIVE LOW-COST WAYS TO JUMP-START YOUR NONPROFIT CAREER

By James D’Ambrosio

During these difficult economic times, I’ve heard quite a bit from others about the tough job market and how difficult it is to make headway. I agree: it is very challenging. However, there’s risk involved in overemphasizing the negative, which causes some people to give up. Better to stay positive and do what you can to increase your marketability. Seneca, the Roman dramatist, philosopher and politician who lived from 5 BC – 65 AD once aptly noted: “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”    

Given this positive perspective, there are things you can do to bolster your professional standing with relatively small investments in time, money and effort. Whether you’re a recent grad, experienced professional, executive or career-changer, one of the suggestions below might work for you.   

FIVE LOW-COST WAYS TO ENHANCE YOUR VALUE

1) JOIN A PROFESSIONAL GROUP IN YOUR FIELD: This is one of the best investments you can make. In addition to networking with like-minded people, you can serve on committees or join the board and showcase your skills to others who may be in position to help. Many groups have member directories, job banks and other resources. Attend meetings regularly, take an active role, and you’ll get noticed. 

2) TAKE A COURSE: Technology and global competition has resulted in information becoming outdated more quickly. What was important a year ago can rapidly fade in importance. By continually expanding your knowledge and skills, you’ll be ahead of others who don’t. A number of people in my professional circles are now embracing life-long learning  as a necessity.

3) MAXIMIZE THE VALUE OF LINKEDIN: With 160+ million professionally-minded users in 200 countries, you can’t afford not to be part of this network. Open an account, develop your profile, and upload a professional-quality photo. You can join groups in your field/industry,  sharing your expertise and learning from others with similar backgrounds. In addition, numerous apps enhance your presence. If you’re a writer like me, you can use Box Net to showcase work samples. You can also answer questions submitted by others. I recently read from a credible source that nearly 80 percent of hiring managers use LinkedIn as their primary source for recruiting talent. 

4) START A BLOG: Have a body of knowledge about a particular subject? Passionate about a cause? Consider blogging. While it does require an investment in time — learning technical aspects and posting regularly — it provides a public platform to demonstrate your knowledge to a wide audience. In the process, you’ll bolster your online presence: over time, a good blog associated with your name shows up high in Google searches — an invaluable asset in today’s digital world.  

5) VOLUNTEER WORK: If you’re in position to do so, volunteer at a nonprofit. In addition to giving back, you can make new contacts, develop new skills, network, and learn about open positions. Just 6-10 hours per week is sufficient. A few years back I took this approach and it led to a paid position. You can search hundreds of volunteer opportunities at nonprofits in the U.S. and worldwide by region and specialty at www.idealist.org.

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QUESTION TO READERS:

What other low-cost initiatives do you believe can increase your professional value?

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