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When our members talk, we listen!

by Katie Manter

Each year, MANP surveys our members, and the feedback helps us continue to offer the training, resources, and benefits that are most relevant to your needs. As we gear up for the 2021 survey (shameless plug – if you’re the primary contact for your organization, please keep an eye on your inbox for the link to this year’s survey to complete on behalf of your organization), we wanted to take a moment to share a few key findings from last year’s survey and how they shaped our work this past year, even during a year with lots of pivoting!

You told us:

“Help Us Build a Stronger Board”

Board recruitment and development remain a top challenge with about half of our members listing this category as a key concern last year.

Examples of What We’ve Been Working On

  • We’ve been expanding our governance training and support with our Get on Board initiative, reaching 585+ leaders across the state through virtual board training programs in 2020.
  • New programming included a “Sounding Board” series for nonprofit board members and executive directors as well as a new lunch and learn designed to smooth the road for those exploring board service for the first time and get new voices to the table.
  • There are already some great offerings for boards on our 2021 events calendar and we’re planning additional ways to facilitate board recruitment in 2021, too!

“Raise the Visibility of our Work and Worth”

Members highly value MANP’s leadership in raising the visibility of the nonprofit sector to policymakers and they want MANP to be a bolder advocate to philanthropy. The pandemic provided unanticipated, but valuable, opportunities for MANP to amplify both the vitality and vulnerability of nonprofits.

Examples of What We’ve Been Working On

  • Conducted two flash polls on the pandemic’s impact on nonprofits and shared results with policymakers and philanthropy to inform their relief efforts based on real-time data.
  • MANP’s Executive Director championed the needs of the nonprofit sector on the Governor’s Economic Recovery Committee.
  • Created a video to raise awareness for how nonprofits power the common good and are central to Maine’s economy and quality of life.
  • Hosted funders and policymakers for conversations in our MANP Connects series, including Senator Angus King, Commissioner Heather Johnson from the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, Jeanette Andre from the Maine Philanthropy Center and Gabriela Alcalde from the Sewall Foundation. (MANP Connects is continuing in 2021 and building bridges between nonprofits and their colleagues in government and philanthropy will remain a focus. Sign up here.)
  • With Maine Philanthropy Center, co-hosted a legislative breakfast (just last week!) to raise awareness of the vital role nonprofits and philanthropy play in our state and the importance of policymakers understanding this audience.

“Connect Us”

Members expressed a strong desire for MANP to help connect them to other nonprofits, individualized and affordable support, and resources and training around diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Examples of What We’ve Been Working On

  • Launched MANP Connects offering nonprofit leaders a space for mutual support (450+ attendees from 300+ organizations in 2020 and the series is continuing in 2021! Sign up here.)
  • Answered 500+ Nonprofit Help Desk requests — up more than 70% from last year.
  • Prioritized accessibility and affordability with free and pay-what-you-can programs and services, including MANP Connects, lunch and learns, expanded pro bono support, and a new Access Fund to ensure all people with purpose can tap into this network.
  • Curated additional resources on equity, diversity, and inclusion in our online Answer Center and weekly e-newsletter and hosted a “Sounding Board” to support boards in reflecting on board diversity (recording available soon in our member-only webinar library).
  • Continued MANP’s own internal equity, diversity and inclusion work, including interviews with 70+ stakeholder interviews resulting in a robust set of recommendations that will guide our staff and board in the coming years.

Help Us Adapt During the Pandemic

So, members didn’t actually say that in the 2020 Member Survey since none of us could have anticipated what the year would bring. However, we continued to seek out, listen to, and respond to your needs throughout the year via our flash polls, website forms, events, and many individual conversations.

Examples of What We’ve Been Working On

In addition to programs and services already mentioned above, we:

  • Advocated tirelessly for nonprofits to be included in state and federal relief efforts and developed comprehensive COVID-19 resource pages with 15,000+ visits to-date.
  • Recruited a Rapid Response Team with 21 volunteer attorneys, consultants and other professionals to support nonprofits with their pandemic-related questions.
  • Published a free Reopening with Purpose guidebook — downloaded almost 600 times.

These are just a few examples of how we are responding to your feedback and developing programs and resources to support your organization’s work. We know the needs of your organization may have shifted during the pandemic, which is why the 2021 Member Survey is more important than ever (primary contacts, be on the lookout for the survey invitation!) We look forward to hearing your thoughts and feedback!

Questions about the Member Survey or MANP’s resources and programs? Reach out to me at Katie Manter at membersupport@nonprofitmaine.org or call (207) 871-1885.

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