Guest Blog by Nicole Reese, Founder of Crowd Conservation
In May 2017, I collaborated with Sarah Scobey, the Nonprofit Resources Librarian with the Poudre River Public Library District, to create a pilot program that supports nonprofit organizations. After attending several nonprofit networking meetings in Denver and small business meetings in Fort Collins, I realized that there was no such collaborative space for the many nonprofits in northern Colorado.
We created the peer-to-peer Fort Collins Nonprofit Networking Group to provide a support group that allows the people managing and working with local nonprofits to talk together, network, and give each other a leg up.
We recently celebrated our one-year anniversary, and can claim an active digital group of more than 180 members on our Facebook page, and an equally dynamic meetup group of as many as 25 people participating in our monthly meetings. Our group ranges from newly-formed nonprofits to seasoned veterans, paid staff and volunteers, board members, executive directors, and those interested in getting connected to the nonprofit scene in Fort Collins and northern Colorado.
“I’m grateful that the Library has taken a leadership role in pulling together resources for nonprofit groups, in a format which encourages people to learn from each other,” says Carl Dierschow, Conscious Capitalism Colorado. “Every meeting is powerful networking and learning!”
Expertise & Resource Sharing
At these hour-long networking meetings, we bring in experts from the nonprofit sector to share their best practices, from donor development to cultivating strategic partnerships and beyond. Recent presenters and their topics have included
- Allison Hines, Vice President of Resource Development, United Way of Larimer County discussing Donor Development;
- Mara Cosgrove, Philanthropy Director of Fort Collins Habitat for Humanity presenting Strategic Alliances, Creating Effective Partnerships with Businesses and Nonprofits; and
- David Hayes, Code for Fort Collins, discussing pro bono web projects for nonprofits.
After the guest speaker, we open the meeting to participants to share their experiences and learn from one another by asking questions and discussing their organization’s most pressing issues. With help from Sarah and other participants, we share resources for nonprofit management including: knowledge, tools, like-minded organizations, and websites to learn more.
“The FoCo Nonprofit Networking Group has been a great place for me to connect with other nonprofits. As a Nonprofit Strategist who helps nonprofits start and grow, I have learned so much from the speakers and attendees. It’s also helped my consulting business,” explains Lisa Fischer, Vision Catalyst.
Our meetings are flexible to fit the needs of nonprofit members. Sometimes meetings are formatted with informal networking, or a presentation from a nonprofit member on a management topic of their choice, or group discussion and break-out sessions as needed. The Poudre River Public Library District also provides workshops and presentations on nonprofit management; many of these future classes and topics will now be drawn from discussions of the needs within this networking group.
Whether you’re supporting a start-up or an established organization, we’d love for you to join us. We meet on the fourth Wednesday of the month at the Harmony Library, 4616 S. Shields Street from 3:00-4:00PM. Due to the 2018 holidays, there will be no meetings in November or December.
Visit the Library’s Nonprofit Resource Center webpage for information about available resources and upcoming networking meetings. Or, check out our Facebook group to stay in touch and up-to-date on the next meeting and any follow-up resources from our discussions. I’d also encourage you to sign up for the Library’s monthly Nonprofit & Small Business eNewsletter to stay on top of local happenings in the nonprofit community and new resources from the Library.
About Nicole Reese: In pursuit of her passion for collaboration in conservation, Nicole founded Crowd Conservation to provide community engagement services for collaborative projects. As a resident of Fort Collins, Nicole has spent the past ten years studying and working for conservation efforts in Northern Colorado. She earned her Masters from Colorado State University in the Human Dimension of Natural Resources. Her research of stakeholder engagement while working internationally with an endangered dolphin species in New Zealand spurred her desire to facilitate collaboration to resolve complex environmental issues. In 2016, Nicole became a trained facilitator through the International Association for Public Participation to build her skill sets and expand her impact with conservation projects.