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For so long, the trend for giving back to a community was done through support of nonprofit organizations whose missions varied from “building communities”,” serving underpriveliged children” or “providing much needed help where those being served would otherwise go without”. Rightfully so, the tide is turning in a new direction. The focus now is on capacity building, a term used in the nonprofit funding arena which describes activities that improve and enhance a nonprofit’s ability to achieve its mission and sustain itself over time.
Examples include: assistance in the placement of programs or services; identifying a communications strategy; improving volunteer recruitment; developing a leadership succession plan; identifying more efficient uses of technology; or engaging in collaborations with community partners.
In a breaking-the-mold move, Ford Motor Company has recently taken a step in this new direction. A partnership of various community serving organizations in what will be called the “Ford Resource and Engagement Center”, Gleaners Food Bank will operate a client-choice food pantry in this newly constructed facility in collaboration with other community resources, that will provide education, recreation and summer youth jobs programs, job training and cultural programming. This approach, at least in this writer’s opinion, seems like a much more effective way of reinvesting in the community.
Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert has impressed the business community and residents of the City of Detroit alike, with his efforts to revitalize the urban center. Buying and filling up buildings with everything from professional office space to a tech company incubator and affordable housing, he has set a trend for what can be done when specific funds are allocated for changing the landscape and supporting those who have an interest in improving themselves.
Re-creating communities is not rocket science when organizations and funders are able to better understand the long-term benefit of providing personal and professional support services. “Going to concerts and other special events is fun and it is good to see corporate names in program books, on the screens, etc. , says Detroit Resident Eric Turner. However, people need to also know that ideas of a healthy & livable community is not just a mission statement on a wall, but visible and tangible evidence of programs and services that work to improve their quality of life”.
Much like the Ford Resource and Engagment Center, “The Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation” (TCEI) is a Michigan based non-nonprofit organization, currently looking for corporate funders who are interested in assisting it with acquiring a building, program space naming rights and service delivery funding support. TCEI, www.center4entrepreneurs.org, a business incubator and networking resource center is designed to assist underserved aspiring and existing entrepreneurs, with on-site business consultants, meeting rooms, entrepreneurial workshops, low-cost office space and youth small business sessions.
Edward Foxworth III is an Entrepreneur, National Speaker and Author of several books including The Six Routines of Self-Discovery, which is available at www.edwardfoxworth.com or wherever books are sold.