The Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber's February 2022 Nonprofit Newsletter
The Nonprofit Committee brings you a newsletter once a month that focuses specifically on the issues confronting nonprofit organizations including an educational article and an article highlighting a Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber member nonprofit.
Contact Relationships Management Software…Do you have one? Need one? Want one?

by Mary F. Foster

“Are you managing all your contacts or just your donors?” asks Mary Lee, President of IMC, Inc. (Innovative Microsystems Consulting, Inc.), at the Nonprofit Committee’s January Coffee and Conversation. Most would say “Maybe”, “Perhaps”, or “Why is this important”.

Referred to as CRMs, this approach to contact management is more robust than tracking your donors, members or sponsors through email marketing, donor or membership software. CRM software tracks all your contacts, not just donors or members, but everyone you come in contact with: vendors, volunteers, donors, clients, sponsors, funders, patrons and staff. A nonprofit’s contacts usually are in more than one category. A donor can be a volunteer, a vendor can be a donor, a client may be a donor or volunteer, etc. Hence your communications and outreach to each group needs to be more nuanced to be effective. Integrating these names in a database enables you to cultivate deeper relationships through more targeted and nuanced communications. A CRM system is a true database and not simply an excel spreadsheet allowing you to search and sort by all types of criteria. CRM is your key to effectively managing contacts.
CRM software integrates with your existing software like Quick books, Mail Chip, Constant Contact, and donor system. Therefore, selecting a CRM system is complex and requires thought and planning. Most times it requires expert handholding. But as you consider enhancing your ability to manage contacts here are some key first steps:

1.  What is the key information your stakeholders need? Two part process:
  • Stakeholders encompass Board members, staff, and executives. Who needs access to the information and should be receiving information from the CRM system?
  • Identifying the type of information to be tracked is essential in building a robust database. It’s more than name, address and contact info. It’s also about what the contact does for you and you for them. Who knows them in your organization and among the other contacts?

2. How many people will use the system? Users need to be trained and they need to embrace the system. Data not used is data wasted. So think about who the users will be.

3. Do you have the staff to handle data entry? Data needs to be entered consistently, so using interns or volunteers may not be the best solution.

4. Do you have staff with expertise in databases? Data entry is just one aspect, refining the data on an ongoing basis is also important. Trouble shooting reports with bad data is also required.

If you think a CRM system is for you, then here are some tips in analyzing the different software products. The Best of CRM Software for 2022 published by PC Magazine can be your guide for looking at software specifications but you need to answer:
  • ·      How easily will the data export to your other systems?
  • ·      Which CRM software integrates with your existing software like Quick Books, Constant Contact, Mail Chip, Network for Good,
  • ·      Is the software user friendly?
  • ·      How old are your other software programs?
  • ·      Does customization of the database make sense? If so, how will this be done and by whom?
  • ·      Do you want desktop or on-line versions or both?
  • ·      What type of customer support is provided? Those in the know say “Phone support is VERY important”

If this looks like the right opportunity for your organization, then keep in mind that simplification will be important for your staff. Try to reduce the number of different software packages they work with and look at the workflow between packages. Streamline the number of steps in the workflow where possible. Change can be challenging so keep it as simple as possible.
Mary F. Foster is a member of the Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber of Commerce Nonprofit Committee; Vice President of the Peekskill Rotary Foundations Board; Treasurer of The Field Library Board; a founding member of HVH2O; and a retired partner from Deloitte, an accounting and consulting firm. 
To request that your nonprofit be featured in this newsletter, please contact Lynn Amos at
To request an article about a
specific topic, please contact
Lucille Geraci-Miranda at
Tuesday, March 22, 2022
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
Tuesday, April 26, 2022
LIVE Evening Mixer
Details to come
Tuesday, May 17, 2022
LIVE Breakfast Networking meeting and tour at Ronald McDonald House in Valhalla.
Do you have expertise to share with other nonprofits? Ask us about writing an educational article for this newsletter!

Please contact Lynn Amos with your ideas at
Featured Organization: The Peekskill Museum

by Mary F. Foster
The Peekskill Museum has been providing historical exhibits, programs and publications for more than 75 years. It was created to collect, preserve, study and display artifacts, documents, photographs and other items pertaining to the history of Peekskill and its surrounding area. The Museum is located in the Herrick House (an historical building from 1878) on Union Avenue. The Museum is charged with preserving and maintaining the house.
Programs are developed around the mission of showcasing Peekskill’s rich and unique history. In years past the half dozen or so yearly educational and historic programs looked at a variety of topics including the History of Baseball in Peekskill, the Role of Women during WWII (Rosie the Riveter), the Creation of the Bear Mountain Bridge, the Comprehensive History of the Fleishmann Operations, Local Heroes of the Civil War, Local Heroes of the Revolutionary War and the Paul Robeson Affair.
Although 2020 and 2021 were challenging years in which to offer programs, the Museum presented a critical historical piece—“The History of Indian Point: from the Native Americans to Decommissioning” in October 2020, they rededicated the Cannon in May 2021, and held a gala in October 2021. In honor of longtime Board member and benefactor Cal Schlick the Museum established a lecture series in his name and Gov. George Pataki was the first lecturer. In 2022 the Cal Schlick Lecture Series will focus on the six books about Peekskill’s history written by John Curran. It will cover the research and background of each book.

Programs are open to all and no fee is charged, except for the memorable Victorian Tea Party held each summer on the Museum’s grounds. Most of us are anxious for this summer tradition to continue.

If you want to visit the Museum, the hours are on Saturday from 1 to 4. History buffs and researchers can make appointments to visit the archives which includes te entire photographic collection of the Peekskill Evening Star. School tours can also make appointments to visit.
To help with the renovations and maintenance of Herrick House, the Museum hosts building fund drives. In 2021, the 75th Anniversary of the Museum celebration with Gov. George Pataki was successful in raising the money needed for refurbishments and a fresh coat of paint.

One of the biggest challenges for an organization like the Museum is that Peekskill and the surronding area is so full of historical events, sites, stories and people that choosing what to preserve and how to produce the programs is more than the volunteers can handle. And as we live, we create new events and stories that should be recorded for history. A problem of riches!

Do you want to be of service?
The Museum is entirely volunteer driven, from its Board to the folks who open the doors, do the tours, do the reserach, produce the programs, maintain the collections and even clean the floors. Currently ten people serve on the Board but the Board can grow to 25. The only requirements are a passion for history, the willingness to volunteer their time and talents and the commitment of 15 hours a month to the Museum.

Here’s advice from the Museum to other nonprofits.
Be really clear on your mission and take the time for a Board annual “retreat” to sharpen your goals and plan out budgets and operating issues. Seek out partners and collaborators to create program flexibility and more opportunities to showcase your programs. Be willing to try new technology to promote what you have to offer. Keep your Board close and involved. Pay attention to the fundamentals of strong volunteer relationships. Saying THANK YOU, THANK YOU, and THANK YOU for all the volunteers do is important. Most importantly, stay open-minded, never discard an idea, they may lead to hidden opportunities.
Join us on Wednesday,
February 23rd via Zoom
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
Deb Milone has a 40+year career in Marketing and Sales. Deb worked as a Writer / Producer at CBS from 1976-1989, as VP of Marketing for Guide Communications from 1991-2007 and District Sales Manager at Yellow Book USA from 2007-2010.
She has served as President of the Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber of Commerce since 2010 bringing her years of business relationships and marketing background to the position. Over the last 11 years, the chamber has grown from 324 members to 500+. New programs and initiatives have been added including the creation of a non-profit 501c-3 whose focus is Workforce Development, Scholarships and Tourism. The Chamber is now the number one business voice of Northern Westchester County.
Deb has an extensive background of community service and has been recognized by the Westchester County Board of Legislators, State & Local elected officials, for community service. Some of her recent community work includes:
  • City of Peekskill DRI Panel
  • Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel
  • Westchester County Consumer Advisory Board
  • NYP Citizens Advisory Board
  • Past Board Member Peekskill Business Improvement
  • Past Vice Chair, Zoning Board of Appeals, City of Peekskill
  • Past President, Peekskill Rotary Club, Paul Harris Fellow
Deb is a magna cum laude graduate from New York Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree. She has lived in Peekskill for 32 years with her husband John.
Would you like to host an event for your nonprofit colleagues at your facility once COVID restrictions are lifted?

Please contact please contact Lucille Geraci-Miranda at
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The Chamber’s Nonprofit Committee provides meaningful opportunities for nonprofit staff, managers and board members to come together to collaborate, and embrace the importance of growth and sustainability. The Committee serves as a resource for ongoing professional development and as a forum for sharing best practices.

Committee Chairperson
Lucille Geraci-Miranda
Geranda Projects

Committee Members
Lynn Amos, Fyne Lyne Ventures
Mary F. Foster, HVH2O and The Field Library
Chereese Jervis-Hill, Events To Remember
Tim Warn, Civic Member
Justin Wingenroth, The Dance Conservatory