Even in the best of times raising funds can be difficult for non-profits. In today’s tough economy bringing in money can be darn near impossible. The same goes for finding people to volunteer for their organizations.

Topics like these, and others, will be the focus of 21 different workshops offered at the 16th annual Princeton Community Works conference on Monday, January 28, from 5 to 9:15 p.m.

The event, held at Princeton University’s Frist Campus Center, features workshops and networking designed to help non-profit boards, staff, and volunteers to develop skills and raise community awareness. Cost: $35, which includes a box supper, refreshments, enrollment in two workshops, and workshop materials. Visit www.princetoncommunityworks.org.

Online registration is closed, but walk-in registrations, payable by cash or check only, will be available. Walk-ins are advised to arrive as close to starting time as possible to help ensure they get their workshop choices.

One of the most important functions of the conference is to help people from different organizations to connect with each other and learn about the resources they have available to each other, says Marge Smith, non-profit consultant and Community Works Conference chair and founder.

“It is structured networking, or you can call it connecting if you don’t like the term networking,” Smith says. “It enables everyone to find different people who are involved in projects that are similar to theirs or find out how different people work.”

“Until we understand the resources and people who are available,” Smith adds, “we can’t really make community work. Each one of us can have our own vision or our own belief system of what we’d like to see happen, but it’s really together that we can make an incredible impact.”

The conference also works to make an impact with a unique keynote. “What we like to do is have a presentation by a group of people that in some way demonstrates management principles or concepts,” says Smith. “People don’t want to come to an event after a long day of work and listen to a speaker, so we try to do something more entertaining”

For example, last year’s keynote presentation by the Princeton High School Orchestra incorporated orchestral examples of management principles such as having a clear vision, working toward balance, identifying a leader, matching talents to task, and motivating. “The presentation is not about having a national well-known speaker. It’s about seeing the incredible talent of the people in our midst,” says Smith.

This year’s keynote will be by members of the Princeton Volunteer Fire Department, who will give a presentation themed on teamwork. “We’re in the middle of creating it,” says Smith. “I’m not quite sure what it’s going to be, but I know it will be meaningful. When you think of the hurricane this year the firemen have really been heroes in people’s lives.”

The workshops themselves are determined by a committee that starts planning in September, says Smith. “We ask what each other what we see as some of the top needs of non-profits and their volunteers. For example, now we have a lot on social media and technology that we did not have years ago. Another concern is the current state of the economy on fundraising.”

“Secrets of Motivation: How to Get and Keep Volunteers and Staff,” is the title of the workshop that will be led by Smith. According to the Community Works website’s description, “Learning how to motivate people to stay involved and work together to accomplish goals is a challenge. This workshop will enable you to meet this challenge by focusing on five secrets of motivation, factors that influence motivation, and simple techniques that you can use to recognize and impact the motivation of board, staff, and/or volunteers.”

Smith currently teaches non-profit management and emotional intelligence at Mercer County Community College. She also conducts board retreats and workshops for volunteers and staff. She is a member of the CASA Board of Burlington/Mercer County, the Princeton Rotary Club, and the Princeton YWCA Friends.

Smith formulated the idea for the conference after leaving her job as executive director of Princeton YWCA in the late 1990s. “What I realized is that when you are in a paid job, you have natural ways of meeting people and finding out whats going on. Volunteers can sometimes be isolated.” She says she created the event as a way for people involved with non-profit organizations to learn about each other and share resources.

To this end, the event starts with a get acquainted session where attendees are given a list of 10 questions and told to ask them of other attendees. Question examples, says Smith, include, “Do you consider yourself caffeinated or decaf?” or “Are you a circle or a square?”

“You become aware of resources by meeting people,” Smith says. “If you meet a person you get a sense of their credibility and their organization. It helps people understand the challenges that different groups are facing by meeting new people.”

This concept of meeting and learning about different people and their organizations continues into the workshop sessions. The attendees eat their box dinners during the workshops and are instructed to sit next to someone they don’t know.

“Unlike sometimes when you go to a conference and you sit with people you know, the goal is to sit with people you don’t know and talk to them about the difference you’re trying to make in community,” Smith says. “That is one way of connecting people and also enabling people to understand the resources. Hopefully everyone will leave with between five to ten people that they have met that they would like to connect with in the future.”

#b#Community Works Workshops#/b#

“Top 10 Things People Want From Your Website,” Pattie Simone, founder and president, WomenCentric.

“Social Media Toolkit,” Stephen Streicher, director marketing and communications, New York Cares.

“Overview of Technologies to Benefit Your Non-Profit,” Andrew Marshall, CEO/principal, Primed Associates.

“Networking: Connecting and Building Relationships for Yourself and for Your Organization,” Lorette Pruden, Team Nimbus NJ.

“The ABC’s of an Effective PR Campaign; Branding: Getting Noticed; WIFM (What’s In It For Me); What to do Now,” Michelle Banks, founder, Darin C. Banks Foundation.

“Elements of Strong Financial Oversight,” Jack Fein and Lisa Thouin, both managing directors, the Mercadien Group.

“Budget Basics for the Non-Accountant — Understanding how to start the budget; Review of Budget templates; Cash Flow Management,” Dennis Kilfeather, supervisor, Lear & Pannepacker.

“Program Accountability: Measuring & Evaluating Outcomes,” John E. Brothers, principal, Quidoo Consulting.

“How to be an Effective Board Member,” Carol McKinney, executive director, Volunteer Management Centers.

“Moving an Established Board to a Higher Level of Engagement,” Mary Jean Weston, assistant executive director, National Association of Social Workers – New Jersey Chapter.

“What You Don’t Know CAN Hurt You – A General Primer of Legal Issues,” Veena Seelochan, staff attorney, Pro Bono Partnership.

“Secrets of Motivation: How to Get and Keep Volunteers and Staff,” Marge Smith, chair, Community Works, non-profit consultant.

“The Keys to Team Building,” Marya Grier, principal and coach, Performance Connect .

“Effective Leadership: Communicate, Delegate, Motivate,” Kathleen Cashman, chief executive and president, Cashman Consulting.

“Strategies for Conflict Resolution,” Kimmee Carlos, author and motivational speaker.

“The Art of the Ask ($),” Anne Seltzer, principal consultant, Seltzer LLC and Andrew C. Hamlin is assistant headmaster for advancement, the Hun School.

“How to Raise Money in the Current Economic Environment,” Ruthellen Rubin, assistant professor of philanthropy, New York University, and director of development, Louis August Jones Foundation.

“10 Steps to Creating a Successful Event — From Volunteer Recognition to Major Fundraising Events,” Adrienne Rubin, executive director, Princeton Education Foundation.

“How to Build & Maintain Relationships with Donors,” Elizabeth Wagner, vice president development, Princeton Area Community Foundation.

“A Grant Writer’s Toolbox: Tips and Tricks,” Michael J. Baker, certified fund raising executive.

“The Nuts & Bolts of Successful Strategic Planning,” Art Firestone, president, and primary consultant, Arthur Firestone Associates.

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