Nonprofit Capacity Building Seminars, L.C.OR.

One of the activities I’ve been fortunate to facilitate and participate in has been the County’s Nonprofit Capacity Building Seminars 2019-20. The seminars took place over a period of four dates and were an opportunity for some of our County’s amazing organizations to build their capacity and improve on best practices that are needed to do this important work in our community.

Group photo during the final class. We asked for one two-person teams (two Board members or a Board member and Executive Director) per organization. Preference was given to previous recipients of the County’s Nonprofit Social Service Allocation Grant Program. More information…

The class materials, power point presentations, photos and video excerpts are available online to the public. (

If you currently serve on a nonprofit board, are considering volunteering, would like to form a nonprofit – consider reviewing these documents in detail.  There is a degree of complexity to the nonprofit organizational structure that deserves thoughtfulness and perseverance. Maintaining continuity throughout the lifespan of the nonprofit is one of reward and challenge.    

The goal: teach practical information, tools and strategies that improve Board and nonprofit performance and make Board service more rewarding and to foster mutual support among Lincoln County nonprofit leaders and encourage more people to “step up” to Board service.

We saw some new and familiar faces from across the County. Participating organizations included but not limited to Bright Horizons Therapeutic Riding, NW Coastal Housing, Samaritan House, Lincoln City Cultural Center, Porthole Players, Habitat for Humanity, Pacific Communities Health District Foundation, Oregon Coast Council for the Arts and others.

The general programming included:

  • Good Governance, Better Meetings, Shared Leadership
  • Clear Expectations; Shared Values, Equity and Inclusion, Strategic Recruitment.
  • Theory of Change; Strategic Planning, Key Performance Indicators
  • Performance Evaluation, Leadership Succession, Emergency Planning

We were fortunate to have employed the services of MBA, Barb Gibbs, a former program officer at the Meyer Memorial Trust, consultant with the Nonprofit Association of Oregon, and trainer in the Ford Leadership Program. Barb has been there and done that. This has been tremendously valuable to have her fluid knowledge power.

Barb Gibbs discusses leadership style... “What has become clear over the years is that a ‘best’ leadership style does not exist; rather a successful leader is one that matches the style with the current situation to maximize productivity and human satisfaction. The adaptability of a leader appears to be his or her greatest strength.” —Anne Breen

The Board’s Roles: Governance and Support

“Public benefit nonprofits receive significant tax benefits based on the Internal Revenue Service’s determination that their missions and activities further charitable purposes and serving the common good. A public benefit nonprofit is required by law to have a board of directors that acts on behalf of the general public, does not stand to gain financially from board service, and provides prudent oversight of the organization’s direction and operations. The board of directors has two types of roles: governance roles that involve protecting the public interest through questioning and monitoring and supporting roles that involve being part of a team through building and helping the organization. BOTH board roles are essential for a healthy nonprofit organization.” Review it.

Throughout the course I was inspired to observe and learn about the passion these individuals have for doing good and meaningful work. Resources are scarce and the need is high.  In July, the County did a basic inventory of local nonprofits that call Lincoln County home. This preliminary look identified over one hundred organizations.

Essential for review to all aspiring and participating board members is the State of Oregon’s Guide to Nonprofit Board Service in Oregon.

“…the principal role of the board member is stewardship. The directors of the corporation are ultimately responsible for the management of the affairs of the charity. This requires active participation. People who do not have the time to regularly participate should not agree to be on a board. The board must insure that the organization is operated for a charitable/public purpose; it may not be operated for private benefit. Proper stewardship requires that the organization’s assets be held “in trust,” to be applied to its charitable mission.”

Peer discussions: fundraising legalities, donation management, raising operating support during a capital campaign, evolving missions, reflecting the community on boards, complexity of working with partners and leadership, transition from founder-led to board-led, recruiting committee members… and the beat goes on…

An encouraging theme embraced during the classes was the need for more equity and inclusion on both board membership and outreach to our community. It was clearly more than buzzwords for these participants. The genuine desire to be effective in the services provided and the recognition that that participation is fundamentally inseparable from decision making and guidance a board is charged with overseeing. These groups recognize the continued need for recruitment, improvement and refinement. 

Equity seeks to ensure fair treatment, equality of opportunity, and fairness in access to information and resources for all. We believe this is only possible in an environment built on respect and dignity. Inclusion builds a culture of belonging by actively inviting the contribution and participation of all people. We believe every person’s voice adds value, and we strive to create balance in the face of power differences. We believe that no one person can or should be called upon to represent an entire community. – Ford Foundation

It’s been wonderful to observe this empathy and intelligence. Kudos to the County, the Commissioners and staff for putting it all together. Kudos to the volunteers, board members and their staff who are boots on the ground, making an impact now and into the future.

It looks promising that the County will continue these Nonprofit Capacity Building Seminars in the coming years. Interested? Contact the Board of Commissioners office.