Formed in 2005 to provide resources, support and advocacy for the borough’s not-for-profit sector, the Staten Island NFP Association has grown and expanded to create a “single voice” for nonprofit organizations across the borough regardless of their size or mission.
And over the past 14 years, the association has been focused on enhancing the economic impact that these local groups provide – allowing its 100-plus members and the Staten Island community to thrive.
“There is such value and need for nonprofits in every community,” explained Gary Bernstein, interim director of the NFP Association. “These groups combat so many issues and challenges such as homelessness, mental illness and drug abuse. They deliver amazing services and really bring the community together, making it safe, strong and improving the quality of life. You can honestly gauge the safety of any community by the strength of its nonprofits.”
Offering educational programs, special events and training sessions on a variety of issues, the NFP Association currently serves over 110 nonprofit member agencies which include cultural institutions, faith-based organizations, healthcare providers, senior and youth service providers and local community groups.
“Our affinity groups consist of like-minded people – all who work within the same area or department – who meet to share ideas and network,” Bernstein said. “This association is all about bringing people together. Our small nonprofits, who have an annual budget of $100,000 or less, meet in one affinity group while our larger nonprofits with an annual budget in the millions range meet in another. Each agency has such different needs and concerns and by gathering together to discuss those needs they are able to improve their practice.”
According to Bernstein, the two major themes that the NFP Association assists clients with is finance development and board direction.
“A lot of nonprofits struggle with funding,” Bernstein said. “Generating revenue, seeking grants and getting foundation support are definitely among their most challenging issues. While some agencies are more fortunate than others, even successful nonprofits can lose grant money or have shrinking numbers from one year to the next. So we’re always looking for ways to support their search and assist with funding in any way that we can.”
The NFP Association also assists in areas of professional development, holding workshops and training seminars.
“It’s not an easy task to find the right person with the right expertise to sit on your board and help your agency thrive,” Bernstein said. “Some agencies only have four or five board members while others have 20 to 25 – but either way finding a group who is committed to your mission and then educating that board on their role is a difficult hurdle. That’s why the NFP Association offers training on that very issue.”
The SINFPA meets with government officials too, speaking at public hearings and offering testimony on behalf of its members. The association also participates in conferences and seminars around New York City on topics impacting Staten Island’s not-for-profit sector. The group offers opportunities to network with peers – members have a chance to meet and collaborate with their colleagues in the not-for-profit sector regardless of the size, mission or services they provide – and there’s also a variety of signature events, including an annual nonprofit conference.
SINFPA’s annual fee depends upon the size of the agency – small groups can pay as little as $25 while larger groups can pay as much as $2500. A recent grant from the Richmond County Savings Foundation is allowing the group to offer free one-year memberships.
“Smaller agencies with an annual budget of $100,000 or less are eligible for the free membership,” Bernstein concluded, defining his organization’s value. “Everyone needs professional development, everyone needs help with peer development so the value of joining is the benefit of being able to access those education and networking opportunities. We provide some critical assistance to the nonprofits here on Staten Island because they are such a vital part of the community.”