Post Newtown: The Power of the Nonprofits

Post Newtown: The Power of the Nonprofits

By Eugene Fram

An ABC press release dated two days ago (1-14-2013) by Kevin Dolak (@kdolak) reported the formation of a new nonprofit organization by the parents and neighbors of the children who perished at Newtown, Connecticut.

Speaking at a press conference at Newtown, Conn., this morning, Tom Bittman, co-founder of Sandy Hook Promise, outlined three discussion points that the organization hopes will bolster a national discussion and affect change in communities: gun responsibility, mental health and making public spaces safer.

This action shows the importance of local nonprofit organizations to take positive action, in the wake of such a tragedy. A nonprofit, in this situation, stands as a venue to allow the parents and their neighbors to promote a needed cause. It is a way to personally galvanize local and national communities to action and to ensure that the mission won’t fail once the headlines turn to another issue.

As the group moves forward, it will quickly need a state charter and select a board of directors to ensure that the nonprofit achieves its mission and perpetuates the vision and values of the founders.

While, this step may seem to be a mere bureaucratic way station, how the board functions is critical to the nonprofit’s future success. No doubt, many well-meaning supporters will want to give their time and resources to the board. Like the directors or trustees of all nonprofits, the governors of Sandy Hook Promise will carry substantial ethical and responsibilities to the memories of the lost children. The failure of the board of the Mortenson Central Asia Institute certainly acts as a reminder of the diligence required of nonprofit boards in the 21st century.

As the organization grows, the directors of trustees will need to assure the founders that:
• The organization is operated in an ethical manner.
• Persons involved with the board, management and staff understand the mission vision and values of the organization.
• Programs and program impacts are achieved. This won’t be easy because some of these will be qualitative and difficult to measure.
• While the organization will need to be a caring one, it
• must need to be operated with a reasonable level of efficiency and effectiveness.
• As the organization grows, the board will have to become less involved with operations, more involved with policies and strategies. It will then need to engage professional managers, who should be over-viewed, not micromanaged.

The fact that the Sandy Hook parents chose a local nonprofit, as a venue to implement their mission is significant. While there are many national organizations that would be willing to take up their cause,
it shows the power of a local nonprofit to improve the general welfare of the local and communities. To achieve this goal, the board of directors or trustees plays a significant role that is not often highlighted.

Let all of this be a reminder of the importance of nonprofit boards and staffs, and their capacity to turn a tragic event into a positive effort.

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