Members of the board and officers of NeighborWorks Columbus were all smiles on Wednesday after completing an 18-month program designed to help nonprofit executives and board members work together internally and develop partnerships outside the organization.
During a gathering at the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center in Columbus, Paul Weech, president and CEO of NeighborWorks America, presented executive director Cathy Williams and board members with hand-painted tiles for completing the Excellence in Governance program. Weech also gave the local nonprofit a $10,000 check to continue its work providing affordable housing for low- to moderate-income residents.
Williams said she’s glad the training that required out-of-town trips to Kansas City and other cities is completed. “More than anything, the cohesiveness of the board was strengthened,” she said. “I have one of the most amazing boards in the world. They just proved it to me.”
The program also was aimed at giving people who work on other nonprofit boards the tools to strengthen those boards as well, she said. “It was pretty intensive and I’m glad it’s over, but it was well worth the effort,” she said.
With 245 nonprofits across the country, NeighborWorks Columbus is one of 16 to take part in the Excellence in Governance program. Weech said the local nonprofit invested more than 200 hours of learning to work together to strengthen the board. With the training, the board is in a better position for the future of NeighborWorks Columbus.
Over the last six years, Weech said the Columbus nonprofit has used various resources, including grants to create more than $90 million in investments in the community. Weech said during the last two weeks, the organization was presented $50,000 Strategic Investment Grant to provide energy-efficient homes for low-income families living in substandard housing. Another $25,000 grant was presented on Friday for a program to sustain home ownership.
“I’m very proud to support the organization of NeighborWorks Columbus,” Weech said. “We probably know very well local networks could not achieve all they achieve without local communities.”
Weech said nonprofits are operating more like a business in managing costs.
“They are operating like a normal business would with a mission to serve low-income people,” he said.
With the Excellence in Governance, the board can talk about what they can bite off and what can’t be done.
“Even if you have the opportunity to get a contract with the government, if you don’t have the management capacity, you’re taking on risks that may undermine the sustainability of your own organization,” he said.
Brad Clements, treasure of the board, said the training helps the future operation of the nonprofit. “It helps to refocus our board and also show us ways we can take the board to next level,” he said.