GWCC’s Non-Profit Discussion Recap: Nonprofit + Business Partnerships = Stronger Community

Mark Yoder, President of the Greater West Chester Chamber moderated a panel discussion consisting of Mark Pavlovich, Ph.D., Vice President of Advancement, West Chester University, Karen Simmons, CEO, Chester County Community Foundation, and Michael DeHaven, CPA, Rainer & Co., Board Member Chester County Community Foundation, Chester County Chamber Foundation & Chester County Economic Development Council examining the role board members should play in nonprofit organization's fund raising efforts. 

 The first of GWCC’s “Everybody Profits from Nonprofits” Discussion Series sponsored by TD Bank took place at Penn Oaks Golf Club on Sept. 12, 2017.

It’s generally preached that nonprofit Board members must fundraise. Staff cannot do it alone. Board members MUST take a leadership role, giving and getting funds to help their nonprofit survive and thrive.

But too many Board members shy away from fundraising. They have good intentions. But fundraising is hard to do.

Panelists discussed how to get real with various aspects of fundraising that Board members should be expected to undertake. What really works, what doesn’t, under what circumstances, and why.

Panelists included:

Takeaway information from the discussion included:

  • When nonprofit organizations cultivate future board members, a clear understanding of the responsibilities and expectations must be conveyed.
  • Small to mid-size nonprofit organizations VS. large nonprofit organizations – there is a different approach due to resources and personnel available. Many different roles are needed to help with fundraising. Not everyone is cut out to ask for money, but ‘asking for money’ is one role, as well as prospect research, networking/meeting people at special events, and more. Assess who is adept at the different roles to get the best outcome. Much can be learned from the larger nonprofit organizations.
  • Board members don’t necessarily need to do the fundraising. If a board members meets someone in the public who is passionate about the nonprofit organization, something as simple as letting the Executive Director know about the individual (and create an introduction). The Executive Director and/or staff can take the next steps in fundraising.
  • How to have the discussion with board members on how to get past the negative connotations of fundraising. “There’s a lot of research on what motivates people to give, and rarely is the gift motivated by the tax deduction,” stated Mark Pavlovich, Ph.D.
  • Responsibilities of a board member VS. the responsibilities of a staff member was discussed. Board member is a strategic position. Participating in fundraising is an operating activity under the leadership of the Executive Director. Coordination and guidance by the nonprofit organization’s Executive Director and/or staff is essential.
  • Those who are just starting a nonprofit organization should initially form a board committee and establish a plan along with fundraising goals.
  • They discussed the difference between fundraising and sponsorships. Many sponsorships are not charitable.
  • The morning concluded with discussing the appropriateness of social media, phone-a-thons and events.
  • Charitable donations are a confirmation that people are convinced about the value of the nonprofit organization.

After asking some of the attendees what was their opinion of the event, Leslie Heisman and Suzan Brittain, Co-Directors of the Chester County Night School ( agreed, “A lot of good information that we can take back to our board and share with them.”

Andy Schaum, President & CEO of Children’s Country Week Association (CCWA) at Paradise Farm Camps ( said, “I learned an awful lot from the truly expert panel members. They hit the sweet spot of covering a broad range of topics but also giving us some nuggets that we can actually use which is the value that I received. I look forward to attending the next panel discussion.”

Part 2 in the GWCC’s Non-Profit Discussion Series will be Thursday, November 02, 2017. Topic: What Do Major Donors Look For In Nonprofit Financials?

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