Meeting the needs of the community

Proposed resource council to host public forum on developing programs

The balancing act between successfully operating a non-profit business and maintaining the quality staff and resources necessary to make progress can be challenging.

Budget constraints and the economics of Moffat County can make finding the right resources to successfully operate a non-profit or other organization a daunting task.

The Northwest Community Resource Center proposes to assist organizations and individuals in their efforts to improve the quality of life for youth and adults in Moffat County. They plan to do so by offering a wide variety of services at a nominal cost to qualified people or groups.

The possibility of having a local organization that could provide immediate help to agencies in need is an exciting prospect to Moffat County United Way Executive Director Corrie Scott.

"If we have an agency that needs assistance with grant writing, instead of them having to spend time looking outside of our community for grant writers or other assistance, they can get that assistance right here,"

she said.

Scott said she thinks the community will reap great benefits from having a local organization as a resource and a liaison between Moffat County and other resources. A greater benefit to the community will be that the NCRC does not intend to seek local funding to run the operation.

"We aren't looking to take money from this community," said Laney Gibbes, NCRC consultant. "Our goal is to bring in money from outside and not to compete at all with local non-profits for money."

Gibbes said that a majority of the funding would come from state, federal and private locations that aren't in Craig.

"Certainly this is an agency that won't be requesting United Way funds," Scott said. "The way I see the United Way partnering with this organization is that it will be nice to have somewhere in our community to go for the kind of assistance that non-profits need that the United Way cannot provide."

Scott sees the NCRC as a way to provide for non-profits to stay on the cutting edge of the sector.

NCRC could potentially assist those in need with everything from grant writing and board development to financial management and marketing. The assistance is part of the council's mission to improve the quality of life for youth and adults in Moffat County by providing education and outreach to the volunteers who affect those lives.

"There are a lot of great organizations in Moffat County that are run by dedicated volunteers, but those volunteers are limited in what they can accomplish because of a lack of funding and resources," said Pres Askew, NCRC Steering Committee chairman.

The range and type of services that the council will provide will be largely dictated by what needs the community sees. Staff development, personal leadership, resource development, strategic planning and transportation services are just a handful of the potential offerings of the group. The steering committee hopes that the community forum will provide residents with a venue to voice their feelings about what services are necessary.

"Our goal at the community meeting is to find out what services are being provided here, how they are being offered, who is offering them and what the community is looking for," Gibbes said. "We don't want to presume that the services we have in mind are necessary."

Ideally, Gibbes said that the organization would like to fully understand the community needs and then develop the program accordingly.

By determining the level of need, Gibbes said the NCRC would have the potential to assess the needs of like groups in the community and help them to write one grant to secure all funding as opposed to several small organizations applying for several smaller grants. One example Gibbes used was helping organizations such as the Sweet Adelines to purchase music or other needed items to enhance local culture. Gibbes views the possibilities for enhancement in our community as endless.

Gibbes and Askew also propose to address the issue of how organizations can recruit talented people on a limited budget.

"I see our organization as having a pool of talent that is available to a lot of other organizations that wouldn't otherwise be able to justify hiring that talent," Askew said.

"I see us as being able to recruit talented staff members to our team that can then be used to complete part-time or temporary work for agencies as the need arises," Askew said.

When a service organization needs help with marketing or public relations, the right person will be available to help. When a non-profit group needs board development training or financial management tools, the Northwestern Community Resource Center wants to have the people to meet the needs.

"We will be able to provide some of the things a staff would provide without the necessity of small organization staffing up. There just aren't a lot of people with talent who are willing to work part time," Askew said.

Staffing issues would not be the only reason that an organization would use the NCRC.

"Some of these people may not need staff, but they need funds and NCRC would provide the 501c(3) umbrella to go after grant funding or for receiving donations. They would then be in a better position to have their needs met," Gibbes said.

Gibbes, who has a master's degree in social work and more than 10 years of experience in grant writing and financial management for non-profits, believes that NCRC will meet a need in the community.

"There are a lot of people doing a lot of good things here, but we can provide a resource for those people, "Gibbes said. "If we didn't think that this would be a great benefit to the community, we wouldn't be doing it."

The idea is that the group would work on a contract basis with organizations in need. The NCRC could be used on a limited or in-depth basis as necessary and would provide follow-up to their consultation services based on the need of the organization.

"This is our opportunity to have talented people employed by NCRC, but who are applying their talent to a multitude of organizations," Askew said. "We can have a staff of several people, but we can then appropriate the right talent to the right project."

The vision for the NCRC is to provide an organization that will, over time, become a relied-upon tool in the community.

"Hopefully people will figure out that when they retain us, they will get professionals who have the most effective potential for the task at hand," Askew said. "Right now, organizations are having to use their limited resources to do everything and they may not be making the most effective use of their talent."

Gibbes said he also thinks having a central community grant writer or resource to help with grant writing will make grant successes more plentiful.

"A lot of successful grant writing is developing a relationship with the funder," she said. "Sometimes having the same grant writer develop all of these relationships on behalf of a large group makes the effort more attractive to funders."

Ultimately, the NCRC will help people to refine their plans and help them to think of the dynamics of their operations that they may not have already though of.

"We want to help people," Askew said. "If we didn't want to help people, we wouldn't be doing it."

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