- Aug 07
Newsletter Article - August 2007
The one key indicator of the health of any community is the extent to which people are involved and actively working to improve its quality of life. By volunteering, funding, or otherwise assisting locally focused nonprofits, an individual undertakes a most valuable and selfless act. Communities build themselves on these small, individual deeds.
For the past few years, we've hosted several gatherings of nonprofits, businesses, and individuals to promote the benefits that each provides and that each offers to become engaged and to participate. Their needs and their areas of interest have no bounds.
In 2006, we videotaped interviews with 38 Cape Codders who actively lead, administer, support, and otherwise encourage the efforts of these organizations. This Day in the Life film highlighted several things. The nonprofits’ overwhelming need for funding is so central to each organization's well-being that each interviewee simply took it for a given and focused their thoughts more on other aspects of nonprofit management and development that are less obvious.
The people interviewed commented recurringly that Cape organizations need to collaborate and connect. And the point cut across each area of their "fields of mission" from affordable housing to water quality to economic development and career opportunity to workforce training and education. A nine-minute sample of these comments was assembled for us by Amy Davies of the Cape Cod Community Media Center. You can view it below:
A Day in the Life
The points raised in these interviews confirm the results we've gleaned from earlier surveys of the Cape's nonprofit community. In conjunction with the Cape and Islands United Way and Cape Cod Life magazine, we completed a survey which revealed that the opportunities provided by new, innovative technologies were of interest to nonprofit staff and managers. At the same time, the resources available to them to undergo training and to become familiar with new equipment and software packages were limited.
If hard cash is well understood to be the essential resource needed by nonprofit organizations, the more abstract value of time is also fundamental. The reality for mission-driven organizations is that, were more time to be available, their sense of its highest and best use would be to devote it to fulfilling their mission.
And so it should be, really. People who work in nonprofits are enthused by their mission, by their direct contact with the people they help.
With these points in mind, we've been working to find ways by which we might help find operational efficiencies. Through that process, we've looked to connect organizations and to increase their capacity to communicate with the people they serve by use of the Internet.
We've developed a Web site on which we list and offer detailed information about the many organizations of the Cape's nonprofit sector. We also provide a matching service by which people who wish to volunteer or even contribute funds might learn of the specific opportunities and activities that are ongoing at any one time and in specific geographic locations.
You can explore what we've put together here on SustainCapeCod.org, and you can see other similar efforts that we have helped and encouraged to be developed by visiting the sites of the Cape Cod Voice, the Enterprise, Cape Cod Life and the sites of the nonprofit organizations themselves.
By visiting these sites and viewing the many different ways that the information is presented, you can begin to get a clearer picture of how we are working to supplement the efforts of the Cape's nonprofit community as well as the efforts of some of its established businesses. The reality is that much of the information provided on these sites is in fact the same. Sharing the information—and thereby widening the awareness of the community about events, activities, and findings—enhances our community sense of priorities and common concerns.
To build on this effort, we've secured funding that we will use to expand the capacity of other organizations to use these types of information-sharing services. We've retained a firm to assist other nonprofit organizations interested to upload their information into the directory and calendar of events. We also will offer training and assistance to nonprofit managers, volunteers, staff, and donors interested to help develop communication resources of this type.
If you or your organization is interested to receive more detailed information about these activities, please let us know simply by sending an e-mail to the contact address listed on our Web site or by responding to this newsletter. And if you are interested to receive a DVD of the nine-minute summary of the comments pulled from our interviews of Cape residents, we're happy to provide that to you at your request at no charge. After all, it's something that we hope you will then use to engage others to follow your lead and add to the health and value of our region.
Allen Larson, President
Cape Cod Center for Sustainability