Community learns about nonprofits

NASHUA – The Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Greater Nashua Class of 2019 partnered with the New Hampshire Center for Nonprofits to host an interactive panel discussion and networking event on Wednesday.

The project, Get On Board Nashua, was designed to educate local professionals and community members about the responsibilities of serving on nonprofit boards, while also inspiring attendees to find the organization that suits their interests best.

Center for Nonprofits CEO Kathleen Reardon and Membership & Partnership Manager Stephen Donahue presented to attendees. They said 32% of New Hampshire’s nonprofits are human services-related.

Donahue also said 15%, or roughly one in seven New Hampshire residents, are employed by nonprofits.

“Nonprofit service is a very unique way to give back,” Reardon said. But, she added, it’s more than just doing good. It’s all about the organization.

During the panel, Reardon and Donahue educated the audience on five different areas on the topic of nonprofits including: the state’s nonprofit sector, building leadership through board service, three legal duties of a nonprofit, four realms of responsibilities for nonprofit boards, nonprofit lifecycles and the types of questions to ask before joining a board.

Chamber Director of Program and Events Sam Cassista said this was a really exciting and inspiring event.

“It’s great for us to be here,” Cassista said. “Older research tells me that Nashua has one of the highest levels of nonprofits per capita in our state and it is very exciting to make sure that all the community feels really involved and engaged with everything that we have going on.”

She said this was an incredible opportunity for those who are community-focused to get to know other organizations, have them in the same room together to compare “apples to apples” and see where leadership might naturally fall.

Nashua Mayor Jim Donchess echoed Cassista’s words.

“I think we have a very high level of nonprofit engagement,” Donchess said. “Higher than elsewhere.”

Donchess said nonprofits help to keep the social fabric of the community together.

“We really rely on them. They’re very important to the overall well-being of the community,” Donchess said. “We want our nonprofits to be as strong as they possibly can.”

Nashua Alderman Tom Lopez, who serves on multiple boards in the city, said in Nashua, nonprofits are distinct and impactful.

“I think Nashua is vibrant and energetic right now because of people stepping up saying, ‘I want to be involved,'” Lopez said.

“We have a lot of people in need. We have a lot of people who care and the ones who care, those are the ones who will join these boards and fuel these organizations and make the next couple of decades in Nashua a vibrant exciting place,” Lopez added.

In Nashua, he said, “You have people donating their effort, their time, their energy, to a purpose in a significant way, a way that generally impacts the character of the community.”

Lopez said this event was extremely valuable to see what the current expectation are of those looking to be board members and how to make sure boards design programs around what will attract qualify, skilled board members.

The evening ended with an expo/networking event, during which members of more than 50 nonprofits shared their missions and goals, along with their needs.

Grace Pecci may be reached at 594-1243, or at gpecci@nashuatelegraph.com.