Is there another transition in your nonprofit’s future?

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by Sharon Danosky

In the wake of COVID-19, many nonprofits are experiencing a transition of leadership. Some executive directors are retiring; others are pursuing different interests.  Whatever the reason a leader is leaving, these transitions can be tricky, especially at a time when there is so much uncertainty.

They can also offer unique opportunities.  It is so critical to plan for this transition carefully.

What not to do is panic and immediately list the position.

The right way to approach a transition is to take a deep breath and decide what is required to lead the organization through this tumultuous time and emerge with a stronger organization, well prepared to deliver your mission.

With all the changes that have transpired – in the world and in your organization – your organization may have evolved into something different than it was pre COVID-19.  That’s why a leadership transition is the perfect time to take stock. [Read more…]

Commit to Create a More Just and Equitable World

danoskypic 16By Sharon Danosky

As I was preparing this newsletter – I really wanted to say something about what has transpired in the past 10 days and the racial unrest that has been pouring onto our streets.  But what could I say or offer to the conversation?  And what understanding do I really have of the issue?

I am a white women of privilege.  Not the “born with the silver spoon” type – but someone who could assume all the advantages of being raised white.  I assumed I would go to college, be judged equally when applying for a job, have opportunities to be promoted.  I assume I will be seen and heard when I walk into a room.  I assume I will be safe in most situations. I assume I will be treated respectfully in all situations.  And most of all – I erroneously assume that everyone is treated as I am.

I recently watched a 58-second video where Jane Elliott, an American schoolteacher, anti-racism activist and educator, made a simple request:  “I’d like to ask every white person in this room who would be happy to be treated the same way as this society treats our black citizens to please stand up.”  No one stood.  We all know there are racial inequities.  And yet we live everyday as if we are wearing blinders.

I would like to share with you a newsletter from an organization I have been privileged to work with in the past and the commitment they have made to help build a better future.  [CLICK HERE]


I, too, commit to walk without blinders and to do everything I can to help create a more just and equitable world.

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Message from the Executive Director

Dear Friends,

I cannot express how heartbroken I’ve been feeling over the past week as an American. It’s a pain I’m sure you share with me. Then there’s the pandemic. Working as a nonprofit service provider through COVID-19 has me depleted. Finding a path forward is a challenge amidst the chaos unfolding across the country. Yet I can still find hope in the struggle of my daily work. Having a firm understanding that the core work of ROOTS has always been in changing the (food) system – and knowing that systems do not change without significant struggle and slow progress. It’s no different than the work being doing by social justice organizations trying to dismantle the many inequities that cause senseless killings of so many people of color (PoC).

I’m writing today to let you know that we can do better as an organization to ensure racial equity is embedded in our core mission and the work we do. We are predominately a white led organization and have failed in our effort to ensure PoC are represented in our leadership. We need to do better. My commitment to you is as follows;

·        I’m working with the ROOTS Board of Directors to develop a public pledge naming our commitment to racial equity and the adoption of anti-racism policies.

·        ROOTS publicly supports Black Lives Matter & the end of Police Brutality. We support the people and organizations that support this cause. We will work to listen and amplify the voice of minorities in our community. We will name racist policies and actions when we see them.

·        We will recruit PoC for representation on our Board of Directors.

·        We will recruit minority led organizations to train and educate our staff and youth in social justice reform.

I also want to hear from you. What else can we do to hold ourselves accountable? I’m starting today by asking our donors to contribute to organizations that lift up our black and brown community. This list of anti-racism organizations is a good list to consider.

I can’t help but think of the additional trauma this social unrest is causing on the children and youth who have already suffered through the isolating impact of quarantine. As we continue to mourn the death, the murder, of George Floyd, I wonder how we collectively begin the process of healing. I wonder how and if our schools will be reopening this fall. What does the healing process look like for our country? It’s unclear. What is clear is that we cannot heal without a call to justice, without policy changes locally and nationally, and without a unified commitment to dismantle white supremacy which is so deeply embedded into the fabric of American life.

Be well my friends and please take care of one another. And I will not waiver in my promise to you.

In Solidarity,

Joey Listro
Executive Director

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Photo: Call for Justice March New Britain Courthouse

A Better Way: How to Build a Brave New World of Giving


By Sharon Danosky

For many years and in many presentations (including my own), fundraising experts have talked about the need to pivot to donor-centered fundraising.  However, it wasn’t until COVID-19 hit, and events were eliminated from our fundraising tactics, that nonprofits began to understand what that means.

It means making a real and honest connection with your donors.

The data has continuously shown us that donors want to engage.  They want to know that their contributions are received and being put to good use.  They want to know the difference they and you are making.  Some want to be considered partners; others want to be thought of as long-distance relatives.  None want to be ignored.  That is why the connection that many nonprofits have been making with their donors during this time is resonating.

As nonprofits have successfully used this time to call and reach out to their donors – they have been met with pleasant surprises.  Donors enjoy hearing how their nonprofit is doing.  They appreciate going on a zoom call to learn more about how the organization is faring and innovating.  They are grateful to learn how their money has been used.

So – what comes next? [Read more…]

Do You Need to Pivot Your Mission?


By Sharon Danosky

Mission is probably the most sacrosanct part of any nonprofit organization.   It’s the reason your nonprofit was founded.  It’s been your touchstone for all the years you’ve been operating.  It’s on your business cards, the walls of your organization.  You review it while developing your strategic plan.

In the past few months, many nonprofits have struggled to deliver the services promised by their missions.  And some have found interesting ways to do so.  Groups that traditionally offer mentoring services began providing food to the community.  One Goodwill closed its doors, but not its services; it began locating, gathering, cleaning and delivering scrubs to a visiting nurse association.     Another organization which provides financial literacy courses for students, started leveraging their relationships with school teachers, social workers and administrators to connect them with some of their partners directly so they could help students and families pay for essentials.

Now, more than ever, boards and executive directors must examine their mission and ask the difficult questions.  Why was our organization founded?  What was our purpose then and what is our purpose now?  Are we filling our purpose in the best way possible?

I like to think of mission as a moral compass, the true north for an organization.  As you consider which programs to re-open, which should remain closed and which should be delivered differently, re-visit your mission.   How does this decision re-inforce your mission?  How will it impact the people you were meant to serve?

We know that this pandemic has heightened the gross inequities in our society.  As we begin to emerge from this pandemic; we have the opportunity to create a more just and equitable world – and nonprofits are on the front line of this.  This is the time to ask ourselves whether we are meeting the needs for which we were founded and our missions were written?