By: Catherine Siebel, Impact Assessment for Foundations and Nonprofits
Faithful Readers –
Welcome to the ACN blog! We’re so happy to have you back. What a (fiscal) year it has been for ACN! While our members have been busy securing contracts, collaborating with one another and improving their clients’ organizations, ACN’s board has been busy working behind the scenes to take our organization to the next level. Since June 2014, we have kept our focus on two main thrusts: to stabilize and invigorate the organization.
ACN has undergone considerable change as an organization in the past few years. Our two most recent Presidents resigned mid-term to pursue full-time positions, leaving little opportunity to execute a transition plan. Last summer, as Whit Shepard and I assumed the roles of Interim Co-Presidents, we initiated a new chapter in ACN by bringing on our first paid Executive Director, Michael Long. As we all know from our own work in the nonprofit sector, successful transitions of staff and leadership do not take place overnight (especially when they happen at the same time!). Thus we have dedicated much of the past year stabilizing the organization behind-the-scenes, in preparation for the exciting changes ahead.
Which leads us to:
I am so excited to share with you all the work that our Board and committee members have been doing to reinvigorate the organization. First, and most importantly – our VP of Programming, Jonathan Eisler, has spearheaded the effort to put together this summer’s Annual Meeting, featuring the program A Panorama of the Nonprofit Sector: What to Know and Do Within the Changing Landscape. Talk about reinvigorated! This program turns our previous meetings on their head, in several exciting ways:
- An incredible panel of speakers. This year’s lineup includes Eric Weinheimer and Delia Coleman (Donors Forum), Pier Rogers (Axelson Center), Judith Gethner (Illinois Partners for Human Services), and Sharon Bush (Grand Victoria Foundation).
- Opening the doors to nonprofit organizations. Our members have been telling us that they want us to bring more nonprofits to the table, and this is our first step. We have created a program that offers high-quality content geared to both consultants and nonprofits, with the added benefit of giving everyone the opportunity to network with one another.
- Special benefit for ACN members. While our program is open to all, ACN members who register early will have the exclusive opportunity to place their name, contact information, and a short description of their practice into the program that we’ll distribute at the door. That means every guest will leave with YOUR information at their fingertips.
In short – it promises to be a phenomenal program. I very much hope you can make it.
The program isn’t our only change. In the past year we have institutionalized our Pop-Up Happy Hours, which are pay-as-you-go events open to members, potential members, and guests of all stripes. Launched by Annisa Wanat and led by Meegan Dugan Bassett, these events are a great way to network with old friends and new colleagues – and ideal for those of us who aren’t “morning people”. We rotate between city and suburban locations. Our next event, on May 14th, is at Scout Waterhouse + Kitchen in the South Loop. We’d love to see you there!
As our members know, this spring we launched our 2015 Member Survey, with the aim of learning more about who our members are – and where they want to go. The data have proven to be tremendously interesting (did you know, for example, that approximately twenty percent of our members have collaborated with other ACN members in the past two years?). More importantly, these data are useful – we are already hard at work translating the findings into a fact sheet to distribute to nonprofit organizations, as well as a white paper highlighting the spirit of our organization and our value to the nonprofit community. These will both be distributed via our social networks – please take a moment to share when you see them!
And finally, I am pleased to use this post to serve as the re-launch of the ACN blog. As ACN expands its service to its members and the nonprofit community, we plan to use this blog as a platform for providing high-quality content to our readers. We have upcoming posts from ACN members Bonnie Massa, Debbie McCann, Jim Heininger, Carey Freimuth and Amy Wishnick. Also look for posts from our annual meeting speakers! Our blog reaches a large audience of potential clients – with approximately 1,200 unique visitors to our website each month – so if you’re interested in writing a piece about something you’re passionate about that would be of service to the nonprofit community, feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com.
As we move ahead toward the Annual Meeting and beyond, I am looking forward to being a part of an invigorated and exciting ACN. I hope you’ll join me.