Celebrating “The Power of Connection” at CSM’s Sixth Annual Nonprofit Institute Conference

On Friday, I had the pleasure of attending the sixth annual conference of the Nonprofit Institute at the College of Southern Maryland in La Plata. I didn’t do a head count, but I’m guessing that around 150 people representing charitable organizations from the three counties of southern Maryland, along with representatives from private and public institutions that support them, attended. The mood was lively, the venue was terrific, the programming was valuable, and the networking opportunities were legion. The perfect recipe for a great conference.

The programming was worthy of the setting. The conference had fifteen sessions divided into tracks for marketing, fundraising, management, strategic planning, and leadership, followed by “TED Talk” style presentations from three local nonprofits sharing their innovative best practices for connecting with their communities. I attended sessions on strategic planning, sustainability, and social media ROI, and took lots of notes (and was not surprised to see lots of people doing likewise).

Launched just five years ago, the Nonprofit Institute serves as a central clearinghouse of information and resources for the estimated 1,000-plus small- and medium-size nonprofits in Charles, Calvert, and St. Mary’s counties, which are located far — both geographically and psychologically — from the state’s center of political and financial gravity in Annapolis. The institute receives funding from all three both county governments as well as administrative and logistical support from the college. In addition to the annual conference, it offers seminars, in-person and web-based workshops, and training.

(Interesting fact: the institute estimates that, altogether, the nonprofit sector in southern Maryland employs over 6,000 people, making it the second-largest employer in the region.)

I’m glad to know that there is such a terrific resource available so close to my new base of operations. I’m looking forward to getting to know the institute and, through it, the local nonprofit scene. If the conference is any indication, it’s a warm, welcoming, and deeply talent-rich environment.

(Correction: the Nonprofit Institute is supported by Charles and St. Mary’s counties. Active Voice regrets the error.)