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Non-Profit Organizations

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Stepping Up to the Plate: Serving on a Non-Profit Board

By Betsy Neff Hay, Executive Director
United Way of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County

Several weeks ago, the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber of Commerce teamed up with The Community Foundation and United Way of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County to sponsor a training event for business persons interested in serving on a non-profit Board of Directors. The response to the event was so positive that the three organizations are planning to duplicate the event this Spring.

Why the rush to learn about local non-profits?

Non-Profit Search EngineHarrisonburg and Rockingham County boast nearly 100 local non-profits! A quick visit to www.tcfuwhr.org, a search website compiled by The Community Foundation and United Way, reveals the breadth and scope of services provided by these organizations – everything from private education and healthcare to the performing arts.

Consider that each non-profit is governed by a local Board of Directors of at least ten members and we see that the non-profit sector is dependent on the competencies and commitment of at least 1,000 leaders in our community.

The responsibilities of these volunteer leaders are great. And the impact is significant. The non-profit business sector has a lot on the line. The 32 United Way partner agencies alone pump $12,500,000 per year into the local economy and employ over 330 staff with wages totaling $7,000,000 per year. This is not to mention the 12,000 persons whose lives are improved through the compassionate work of these agencies.

It is imperative that the non-profit sector of our community expect only the brightest and best of our local leadership to guide our organizations and then purposefully attract those persons to rewarding volunteerism.

What does it take to serve on a non-profit Board?

A favorite song from the Broadway show “Damn Yankees” comes to mind – “You’ve gotta have heart! Miles and miles and miles of heart!” That’s true! But in reality, you’ve got to have a lot more than heart to step up to the plate!

Do you have…

Skill sets that you can put to use in a non-profit setting? Skills such as accounting, public relations, marketing, graphic design, social networking, business planning, fund raising and human resource management are always needed and welcome.

Support from your workplace to volunteer your time and represent your company through community service? Board membership is one way that the private sector can compliment and strengthen the non-profit and public sectors in our community.

Leadership traits that put team work and collaboration above self-interest or self advancement? If you are looking for opportunities to develop a mind and heart for leadership, service on a non-profit board is a great way to learn what it takes.

Financial resources to invest in the non-profit organization OR the ability to open doors to other persons with financial resources? Expect to make the organization you serve one of your top charitable choices, whether your gift is $50 or $5,000 annually.

Contagious passion for our community? Whether you have a love for children, older adults, animals, the environment, the arts or the homeless, there is a non-profit that will match your interests and benefit from your passion.

Are you willing to sign?

As a touch of spring hits the air this week and our favorite baseball teams take to spring training camp, consider signing with a non-profit “team” this year. The vitality of our community is dependent on the non-profit sector as equal partners with the public and private sectors. And the non-profit sector is only as strong as those in leadership positions on local boards. Whether a rookie or a veteran, step up to the plate and show us what you’ve got!

Look for details on the “Building Blocks for Non-Profit Board Members” seminar coming soon.

Community Involvement

Friday, January 21st, 2011

Business Person of the Year Encourages Community Involvement

Congratulations again to the 2010 Business Person of the Year Dave Miller of Dave’s Downtown Taverna. Dave is a community leader and has been instrumental in forming a Downtown Dining Alliance and the Chamber’s Member-2-Member Program.

By: Dave Miller, Owner of Dave’s Downtown Taverna, 2010 Business Person of the Year

I have loved the Harrisonburg area since I came to visit Eastern Mennonite University for the first time in 1978.  Eventually, I attended both EMU and then JMU where I met my wife Julie.  After Julie and I got married I took a job with a regional restaurant chain that took me out of the area for four years.  We returned in 1994 to take over the operations of Gus’ Taverna. And, becoming a member of the local Chamber of Commerce was near the top of the list just, behind getting a health permit and a business license.

In the beginning, my goals for Dave’s Taverna were simple:

  1. Create the best restaurant experience possible by applying all that I had learned during my journeyman trek to restaurant owner/operator; and
  2. Find ways in which I could help better our community.

Over the years, the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber of Commerce has provided me with the necessary support and direction needed to achieve these goals.

Community involvement and good works translate into a better life and business for my family.  I got to know people who helped me make a difference.  I honestly feel that a local business must give of itself to have any chance of making it in the long term.  What better organization than the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber of Commerce to help promote my personal and business values.  I mean the mission is in the name.  The Chamber of Commerce has been toiling away on my behalf for 15 years and continues to impress me with its relevance.

Member-2-Member Program

A great example of this relevance is the Member-2-Member program, which I helped create, to reward employees of businesses for supporting other local businesses.  In my opinion buying local is an obligation.  Now, as a result of the Member-2-Member program, supporting local business is a cost saving, employee benefiting, community building and warm fuzzy feeling program.

More than 50 businesses have signed on to the program to offer discounts to their fellow Chamber members, from restaurants and hotels to attractions and travel agencies.

Thirty years into this journey I am still learning of new ways that can help make my business and community better.  I didn’t know that Dave’s Taverna could or would have the impact that it has had on the Harrisonburg community, but I feel that the Chamber knew what could be if we worked together.