The idea for the Nonprofit Center evolved over a period of ten years, sprouting from the founder’s involvement in many small civic and nonprofit groups. In 2016, after meetings with professionals from both the nonprofit and business worlds, a structure for the Nonprofit Center emerged. Similar to a Chamber of Commerce, the NPC serves as the clearing house for information for nonprofits and has become a vital resource for the community.
In its first year, the NPC launched a web site with a “resource” section, an educational workshop series, and a giving guide connecting nonprofits with community members wishing to get more involved. The NPC also fields calls for information and referrals, meets individually with nonprofits, coaches boards and management, and represents the Berkshires on the Board of the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network.
In 2017 the NPC conducted two county-wide surveys, launched a unique magazine for the Berkshire nonprofit sector called “Connections,” and created an email ListServe to facilitate cross-county communication. 2018 initiatives included the first Berkshire Nonprofit Awards, a Nonprofit Resource Guide, a Nonprofit Boot Camp, and the creation of a nonprofit Advisory Board. The NPC won the 1Berkshire Trendsetter Award in the “Newcomer of the Year” category. In 2019, 17 workshops were held attended by over 300 individuals from 200 organizations. We brought several regional organizations to the Berkshire including Massachusetts Service Alliance, Philanthropy MA, and Massachusetts Nonprofit Network. We hosted our first Volunteer Fair, our first board training, and published a Nonprofit Resource Directory. NPC’s Nonprofit Needs Assessment revealed the desire for more networking, a speaker series, in-depth training, and more opportunities for sharing resources.
And then……a pandemic.
In-person workshops became webinars, with hot topics like “Budgeting during Coronavirus” and “Virtual Galas.” The NPC was one of the first to take a large event virtual — The Berkshire Nonprofit Awards was held online and enhanced with a virtual 2-day summit on nonprofit sustainability featuring webinars, panel discussions and a keynote speaker. We hosted two legislative Town Halls and piloted our Philanthropy in the Schools program thanks to a grant from Guardian Life Insurance Company. Our peer support group of nonprofit Executive Directors meets every other week, and a re-imagined “Giving Back” guide will appear in The Berkshire Eagle on September 23 mailing to 13,400 print subscribers. Strategic planning is also in the works to determine how to make the most impact with our limited resources in the short term, and what our long-term goals should be. Throughout this challenging time, NPC membership remains strong at just over 140. We’re extremely grateful for our loyal members and supporters and look forward to meeting up with everyone in person when we are able.
Liana Toscanini moved to the Berkshires from New York City in 1996, and became an active volunteer, using her marketing background to help raise funds for restoration of the historic Sandisfield Arts Center building and winning a preservation award from the Commonwealth as well as placement on the National Register of Historic Places. She has edited town newsletters, chaired a local cultural council, and assisted the town of Sandisfield with park planning, a 250th town birthday celebration and history book. She was recognized as an Unsung Heroine in 2006 by the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women and by Berkshire Magazine as one of the 25 most dedicated, creative & influential people of 2018. She currently serves on the Board of the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network. Liana’s passions include community building, historic restoration, zinnias and dessert.