By Theresa Bravo
On Wednesday, December 03, 2014 Daphne Thomas Jones and John Phelps, Co-executive Directors of PSGCNJ attended a conference hosted by the Center for Nonprofits located in Mercerville, NJ. They were joined by seven PSGCNJ members who volunteered their services in exchange for admission to the conference or received a scholarship. The theme for the conference was SHARING IDEAS, INSPIRING ACTION: Pillars of the Nonprofit Community. There were 330 attendees and nineteen exhibitors from nonprofits organizations throughout New Jersey and beyond.
The agenda for the conference included three speakers and eighteen break-out sessions. The topics were specifically created to address the needs and concerns of nonprofit organizations, such as, fundraising, marketing, strategic philanthropy, technology, and leadership.
The conference was opened by David Gray, the chair of The Center for Nonprofits. He presented interesting statistics on nonprofit organizations in New Jersey, as follows:
- Nonprofit organizations in employ 314,000 people.
- Nonprofit organizations spend $37 billion.
- Approximately 1.7 million people in New Jersey volunteer their services.
He introduced the first speaker of the day, Lolly Daskal, founder of Lead From Within. She spoke on “Creating Trust in the Workplace: Understanding the Dramatic Impact Trust Has on Your Bottom Line”. She spoke of the importance of trust and presented Six Principles of Trust in both for profit and nonprofit organizations. Trust in a nonprofit begins within each one of us. She asked questions that required us to probe within ourselves concerning our personal values, our credibility and our competency in our chosen fields. For an organization to be successful it needs to be based on trust because trust matters.
The following PSGCNJ volunteers joined John and Daphne, as follows: Paul Alagna, Jill Hyman, Arlene O’Reilly, Arlene Fineman, Janet Samuels, Eileen Silverstein, and Theresa Bravo. We were able to cover fifteen of the morning and afternoon break-out sessions which results in obtaining much information that will benefit PSGCNJ.
Paul Alagna was the go to man for video and laptop support. One could see him throughout the conference setting up projectors, laptops, trouble solving. He was the IT presence and certainly the subject matter expert for anything technical! He hardly had a chance to eat his lunch. Thank you, Paul, for representing PSGCNJ.
During our lunch, a plea was made for us to Twitter our Senators and ask that they vote on the Charity Tax provisions of the America Give More Act. This is a necessary piece of legislation that needs to be approved before the end of the year. Please twitter the following:
#Protect Giving by passing the charity tax provisions of the America Gives More Act.
Emerging Nonprofits Leadership Awards were presented by Dennis Miller representing Fairleigh Dickinson University. He stressed that emerging nonprofit leaders need to be acknowledged as they move forward in their careers. Awards were presented to Jaymie Santiago, Amanda Blount, and this year’s winner, Adam Immerwahr.
The key note speaker of the day was Peter Wilderotter of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation. He spoke on “Unexpected Discoveries: The Power of Failing Forward.” Nonprofits succeed on leadership based on trust and while much attention is given to our successes failure is not often discussed Mr. Wilderotter asked us to consider that we learn from failure. The road to success is often paved with failures. He cited a quote of Thomas Edison, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
He spoke on the Three Pillars to Failing Forward upon which the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation is built. They are as follows:
- Build the right team;
- Engage allies and partners; and
- Embrace risk.
While horseback riding, when Christopher Reeve failed to make a jump his spine was injured and he was paralyzed. He said one day he would walk but he didn’t. Many would see this as a failure but the legacy of his advocacy and push for research through his foundation is helping others to walk. Wilderotter encouraged us to find our Big Idea and work towards it.
For the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, the Big Idea is the advancement of the epidural stimulator, a new therapy that has been proven to help those with spinal cord injuries improve the quality of their lives and even walk. He showed a video of four young men who suffered serious spinal cord injuries that left them paralyzed. The audience gasped when we saw that they were able to move their limbs and walk due to the epidural stimulator. They experienced other benefits that improved their quality of life.
He emphasized the importance of the nonprofits organizations because they support the gaps that government and the business sector has not addressed. The nonprofits will find solutions to problems. Be honest, transparent and create trust in your nonprofit organization.
After this inspiring presentation we attended our break-out sessions. We had ample time to network and a 3:30 – 5:30 PM reception was held. The theme of the day of sharing ideas and inspiring action was a theme that was well developed throughout the conference.
For those of us who donated our services in exchange for an opportunity to attend the conference it was well worth the effort. It was a valuable experience to collaborate with The Center for Nonprofits because as our PSGCNJ value reads,” We believe we can do more together than apart.” In real time we saw the hard work and dedication of Debbie Duncan and her staff as they diligently worked on their part in planning for the conference. It is amazing how much can be done by a few people. To be in the nonprofit sector is not only a job but a way of life. From what we learned this is just another day in the office.
In conclusion, PSGCNJ is a fledgling nonprofit that adds value to those who are in transition. Our BIG IDEA is helping all job seekers from all walks of life. While our mission is not to retain people but to see them land jobs and move on we can use our talents and skills while in transition and lay the foundation of those who will follow. As we learned there is power in sharing ideas and the sharing of ideas inspires us to action. Let’s continue to create trust, dream big, and unify towards our Big Idea of landings for all who come to PSGCNJ for help.