Developing Leaders to Support the Community

Sep 19, 2018

As Executive Director of Neighbor to Neighbor, Nancy Coughlin has made Fairfield County’s Community Foundation’s (FCCF) Center for Nonprofit Excellence (CNE) part of her business plan – and she sees it as a key factor in the organization’s success. “It’s really important for nonprofits to create a professional development budget, and use it wisely and strategically,” says Coughlin, whose organization provides low-income residents in the greater Greenwich area with access to food and clothing.

“Through the CNE, FCCF makes it easy to do that, with workshops that are close by and priced right.” “End users are going to suffer if nonprofits don’t have the skills and training needed to be successful,” says Coughlin. “So when people think about where to put their donor dollars, it’s really important they recognize they can make an impact by giving nonprofits access to resources to build a stronger infrastructure.”

As a member of the CNE’s Executive Leadership Group, Coughlin has found immense value in one-on-one coaching, peer learning and networking. This program drives personal and professional growth for Executive Directors from similarly-sized nonprofits and helps them identify key organizational development needs and strategies. “The quality of decisions I have made has improved because of the skills that I have learned,” says Coughlin. “When we face tough challenges, I’m much better prepared to navigate them on behalf of the organization.” As Coughlin has become a stronger and more experienced leader, Neighbor to Neighbor’s Board members can put more of their focus on bringing greater resources to the organization. Factor in the technical knowledge that Board members have gained in CNE workshops, and it all adds up to big strides in strength and productivity. “Our Board members are now better at being ambassadors and fundraisers, says Coughlin. Our governance is stronger, and we’ve got a lot of best practices we didn’t have six years ago. The whole team works together more effectively.”