Greater Reading Chamber Commerce Quarterly Summer 2017 - 20

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Highly Skilled Leaders:
Smart Business for Nonprofits in Berks
Toni Eckert, Leadership Berks, O'Pake Institute-Alvernia University

B

usiness, government and nonprofit organizations are only
as strong as their people. Every sector relies on competent
leaders to be successful, reach goals, and maintain relevance
in today's workplace.
In the nonprofit sector, however, leadership staff often start
their careers as front-line service providers and then find themselves
in senior leadership or executive positions with little to no
professional development or training. In addition, with cuts in
funding and the associated limitations it presents in paid staffing,
nonprofit organizations increasingly rely on volunteers to meet
their mission, requiring today's volunteers to possess demonstrable
skills and competencies in critical areas to drive revenue and impact
organizational performance.

Such is the case among the nonprofit organizations in Greater
Reading and Berks County, whose expectations and needs were
examined through a survey of nonprofit leaders in a 2016 report
that captured responses from 150 Berks County nonprofit leaders
regarding Nonprofit Operations and Governance. Produced
by Alvernia University's O'Pake Institute for Ethics Leadership
and Public Service on behalf of the Berks County Community
Foundation, the Berks Vital Signs: Nonprofits in Berks County
Report was administered in an effort to identify the organizational
health and challenges facing the hundreds of nonprofit organizations
in Berks County that provide vital health, human service, and
educational programming. Among respondents, nearly 60% of
Berks' nonprofit organizations reported having an operating budget
under $1,000,000, with a third having less than five employees. 52%
of respondents reported relying heavily on volunteers to perform

20 COMMERCE QUARTERLY SUMMER 2017

their work, with nearly a dozen significant needs reported in the
following areas: communications and marketing; finances; grant
writing and fundraising; staffing and training; with fundraising,
board recruitment, training and development. Moreover, the
report captured specific areas of the greatest needs among nonprofit
organizations. These included development and training in: Board
Governance and Ethics; Fund Development; Personnel Management
- Staff & Volunteer; and Quality & Outcomes Measurement. In
addition, personnel challenges associated with managing non-paid
individuals and teams with a broad base of skills was also noted as
presenting unique challenges for staff leaders and managers.
When asked about job satisfaction, most leaders suggested
a need for stronger leadership, increased financial support, and
professional and volunteer development in the areas of fundraising;
management; technology; web development and social media.
Among survey respondents, 42 percent fell between the ages of
46-54 and 25% fell over the age of 65. A third of those surveyed
reported they have held leadership positions for more than a decade,
nearly eight percent reported having served in their position for over
15 years, and a third reported having served in their position under
3 years. In addition, a third of leaders responded that they expect to
continue in their positions less than 5 years; findings that suggest
the nonprofit sector in Reading and Berks County faces gaps in
quality training for nonprofit leaders and considerable risk in the
absence of quality succession planning.
In terms of board governance, the survey confirmed that most
nonprofits offer little or no training for their governing boards,
volunteers, and staff leaders; and most of what they do offer is a one-



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Greater Reading Chamber Commerce Quarterly Summer 2017

Greater Reading Chamber Commerce Quarterly Summer 2017 - 1
Greater Reading Chamber Commerce Quarterly Summer 2017 - 2
Greater Reading Chamber Commerce Quarterly Summer 2017 - 3
Greater Reading Chamber Commerce Quarterly Summer 2017 - 4
Greater Reading Chamber Commerce Quarterly Summer 2017 - 5
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Greater Reading Chamber Commerce Quarterly Summer 2017 - 64
http://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/GreaterReadingChamber_CommerceQuarterly/GRCA_CommerceQuarterly_Fall2019
http://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/GreaterReadingChamber_CommerceQuarterly/GRCA_CommerceQuarterly_Summer2019
http://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/GreaterReadingChamber_CommerceQuarterly/GRCA_CommerceQuarterly_Spring2019
http://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/GreaterReadingChamber_CommerceQuarterly/GRCA_CommerceQuarterly_Winter2019
http://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/GreaterReadingChamber_CommerceQuarterly/GRCA_CommerceQuarterly_Fall2018
http://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/GreaterReadingChamber_CommerceQuarterly/GRCA_CommerceQuarterly_Summer2018
http://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/GreaterReadingChamber_CommerceQuarterly/GRCA_CommerceQuarterly_Spring2018
http://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/GreaterReadingChamber_CommerceQuarterly/GRCA_CommerceQuarterly_Winter2018
http://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/GreaterReadingChamber_CommerceQuarterly/GreaterReadingChamber_CommerceQuarterly_Fall2017
http://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/GreaterReadingChamber_CommerceQuarterly/GreaterReadingChamber_CommerceQuarterly_Summer2017
http://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/GreaterReadingChamber_CommerceQuarterly/GreaterReadingChamber_CommerceQuarterly_Spring2017
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