On Friday, January 17th, twenty four local nonprofit executive directors and board chairs will embark on a five-month pilot program, known as the Healthy Organization Institute, which will improve the capacity and effectiveness of the organizations they serve.
Through a partnership consisting of the Mary Black Foundation, The Spartanburg County Foundation, Spartanburg Regional Foundation, United Way of the Piedmont and the University of South Carolina Upstate’s George Dean Johnson, Jr. College of Business and Economics, the Healthy Organization Institute (HOI) aims to create a stronger nonprofit community for Spartanburg County through the implementation of a concept that has been three years in the making. This comprehensive best practices training program for nonprofit executive directors and board chairs incorporates peer learning, classroom instruction, and creative problem solving to allow leaders to take back to their organizations solid, practical concepts and build them into the framework of their organizations. “Volunteer leadership is critical to the success of a nonprofit organization. Anything we can do to strengthen nonprofit boards ultimately strengthens our shared community,” stated Chris Steed, president and CEO of United Way of the Piedmont.
The Joint Funders, a group consisting of the Mary Black Foundation, The Spartanburg County Foundation, Spartanburg Regional Foundation and United Way of the Piedmont, began collaborating to design the Healthy Organization Institute in 2012. In 2013, the University of South Carolina Upstate joined the partnership, completing the HOI Partnership Team. The Partnership Team has since worked together to solidify the concept and to perform best practice research for the pilot program, which the partners hope will serve as a model for other communities. “This was a great opportunity for the Joint Funders and USC Upstate to partner and lead by example as it relates to collaborating together and avoiding duplication of services,” stated Mary Thomas, chief operating officer at The Spartanburg County Foundation.
The twelve organizations selected to participate in the pilot program include: Adult Learning Center, Inc.; Bethlehem Center; BirthMatters; Hub City Farmer’s Market; Middle Tyger Community Center; Mobile Meals of Spartanburg, Inc.; Senior Centers of Spartanburg County; Spartanburg County First Steps; The Children’s Advocacy Center of Spartanburg, Cherokee, & Union Counties, Inc.; The Haven, Inc.; TOTAL Ministries and Upstate Family Resource Center. The executive directors and board chairs will take part in monthly sessions from January to May, with a graduation ceremony taking place during the May session. These monthly sessions will incorporate the South Carolina Association of Nonprofit Organization’s (SCANPO) Guiding Principles and Best Practices Third Edition, and Western North Carolina’s Nonprofit Pathways Four Key Capacities Model.
Nonprofit organizations participating in the Healthy Organization Institute are met “where they are,” meaning some attending organizations may be considered “healthier” than others on the spectrum, but will be challenged to achieve a better state of health by implementing best practices. Molly Chappell-McPhail, executive director of BirthMatters, stated, “We are an early independent organization that has a lot to learn. It will be exciting to be a part of the Healthy Organization Institute and to work with other nonprofits to learn from each other.”