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Serving Our Communities: Part 1

For as long as I can remember, I have been purposeful about connecting with people through some form of group involvement.  Mostly, that has been through professional associations or before that, college organizations. And when we moved “home” to West Texas, I knew I wanted to get engaged in the local community. It took a few years, but I finally decided to jump in with both feet. However, I was gone a long time! Not only have the opportunities for involvement in Midland changed since I left after high school, but my skills, interests, and passions are different too. I found myself asking, “Where do I start?” 

That’s when I learned about the Generations program sponsored by the Non-Profit Management Center of the Permian Basin. It includes a series of courses designed to equip members of the community to serve at local non-profit organizations.  Upon completion of the curriculum, the Center matches “graduates” to a non-profit board for at least a one-year term of service. Over 300 graduates have been placed on 80 non-profit boards since the program was founded in 2007.  I was excited for the opportunity to not only learn how to be an effective volunteer but for the chance to learn about the needs of the Midland community and discover where I may be best able to help. I attended the first class and came away with newfound knowledge about the non-profit sector and an eagerness to serve. I hope to share a some of what I learn through a brief series on non-profit service on our blog. I hope you learn a few things too! 

The Non-Profit Sector

Across the United States, there are over 1.4 million tax-exempt entities, including almost 93,000 in Texas. In Midland alone, we have over 1,500 non-profit entities, not including faith-based organizations! According to 2012 data, the non-profit sector employees 10% of the American workforce, third behind retail and manufacturing. With over 1.7 trillion dollars of revenue, these organizations are meeting vital needs in our communities.  

Anyone thinking about creating a new organization should always ask these essential questions: 

  • What is your mission? 
  • Is another entity in existence with a similar mission? 
  • Is there a way to partner with existing organizations to help fulfill your mission? 
  • Will the creation of a new organization dilute the existing funding base or volunteer base? 

At first, I was surprised to hear that the Non-Profit Management Center may discourage someone from founding a new organization! But with so many organizations doing great work, it makes sense that joining forces is a more effective way to meet the needs of our communities. 

The Non-Profit Management Center (NMC) and Generations

The mission of the NMC is to provide consulting, training, and information to support the effectiveness of both new and existing nonprofit organizations. The Center also serves as an advocate for nonprofits in the Permian Basin. 

Organizations across the country are as diverse as the people they serve, but they do have one thing in common: the need for volunteers. The estimated value of volunteer time (from a 2015 study) is $184 billion, and data indicates that more than 25% of Americans over age 16 volunteer. However, volunteer hours have been decreasing annually since 2011.  

Further, nonprofits are challenged to find and retain volunteers who are prepared to serve at the board level. And that is why Generations was created: to teach “willing, skilled candidates how to be informed committed leaders on nonprofit boards by providing…knowledge of board governance, human resource management, fundraising, mission, and program issues.” 

I look forward to sharing more with you as I go through this program and begin to serve in the Midland community!