Two Southern Maryland nonprofit organizations are crediting the Nonprofit Institute (NPI) at the College of Southern Maryland (CSM) for not only saving their businesses over the course of the past 17 months but for also strengthening their organizations to better serve their communities. Spokespersons from both The Arc Southern Maryland in Prince Frederick and Pure Play Every Day in Charles County recently told “Inside Your County Government” podcast host Brent Huber that NPI at CSM is “the backbone of success” for many of the area’s nonprofits.
“I have been active with the Nonprofit Institute for the last almost two years and I know that we probably would not be surviving and thriving like we did through this pandemic without the resources [NPI] has,” shared The Arc Southern Maryland Marketing and Communications Coordinator Lyndee Waldbauer. “At the very beginning of COVID, Cara said let’s move these [monthly] Affinity Groups to weekly and we all hung on. [The meetings] were our lifeline. That’s how we got through the first several months of the pandemic”
NPI Consultant Cara Fogarty joined Huber, Waldbauer and Pure Play Every Day, Inc. Executive Director Patty Stine during the podcast to reflect on how the Nonprofit Institute went the extra mile during the COVID crisis to help nonprofit organizations share resources and ideas; learn about and prepare grant applications for aid; and stand up creative ways to serve constituents in a virtual environment.
“We’re small, but we’re mighty,” Fogarty said of her team. NPI at CSM is led by CSM Continuing Education and Workforce Development Assistant Director of Strategic Initiatives Kyle Kebaugh and includes Michelle Sullivan and Fogarty – who have been with the Institute for close to five years – and Amy Davis, who recently joined. All three have robust experience with nonprofits and Sullivan and Davis are also executive directors of nonprofit organizations.
When news of the pandemic arrived in March of 2020, the Nonprofit Institute at CSM immediately went into action to help the region’s nonprofit leaders navigate COVID-19 relief loans and grants. They called their Affinity Groups centered on volunteer coordination, fundraising, and public relations/marketing/communications to order more frequently and stayed steady with twice-a-week community calls with the United Ways of Charles and St. Mary’s for 18 straight weeks. The Institute even held its 11th Annual Nonprofit Conference virtually five months ago bringing together 23 leaders to talking about “Adapting to Change.”
“We proved during the pandemic that we all are stronger together than we are as individual silos,” Fogarty continued.
“The collaboration that came out of the meetings is what has kept us thriving,” Waldauer added. “It was the kind of backbone of success for many of the nonprofits in our area. The collaboration was part of our success plan and remains so as we come out of COVID. And any nonprofit that you talk to that was a part of this is going to tell you the same thing.”
Patty Stine, executive director of Pure Play Every Day, Inc., agreed.
“[NPI] was instrumental in our growth as a nonprofit because when we started, we literally didn’t know what we were doing,” Stine shared. “NPI provided resources and guidance and network connections that made it possible for us have so many partners. We had to turn our program upside down. Instead of being where people were, we had to send things home. We had to figure out to play through a computer screen.”
Fogarty affirmed that the Nonprofit Institute is just one of many resources offered by CSM. “Nonprofits are an economic engine and our team’s work is just another way the college reaches, and meets, the needs of the local community.”
She also credits her appointment to Maryland Governor’s Nonprofit Working Group, organized by the Governor’s Office of Community Initiatives for broadening her scope on how the Nonprofit Institute could further help Southern Maryland. The group, which was comprised of nonprofit organizations throughout the state, was tasked with making recommendations to Gov. Larry Hogan’s Maryland Strong: Roadmap to Recovery. The Nonprofit Institute represented the voice and interest of Southern Maryland nonprofits at the state level and through Fogarty’s service on the Charles County COVID-19 Recovery Task Force; a group created by the Charles County Economic Development Advisory Board at the request of the county commissioners.
“Having a voice with these two initiatives proved to be extraordinarily helpful for the nonprofit community in Southern Maryland,” Fogarty said.
Listen to Huber’s interview here to learn more about the important work of The Arc Southern Maryland, Pure Play Every Day and the Nonprofit Institute at CSM and how the organizations created a path forward through the pandemic.
About the Nonprofit Institute at CSM: NPI serves as Southern Maryland’s premier source of nonprofit professional development and capacity-building for a diverse array of nonprofits serving the Southern Maryland region. The Institute is part of the Division of Continuing Education and Workforce Development at the College of Southern Maryland. Nonprofit Institute staff are available for consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 301-934-7544.