December 20, 2022
Freetown Village: Insights on sustainability from a small nonprofit
by Shari Finnell, editor/writer, Not-for-profit News
For decades, Freetown Village, a small nonprofit organization based in Indianapolis, had been focused on educating its audiences about a unique period in America’s history — specifically 1870, when freed African American slaves experienced a series of firsts, according to founder Ophelia Wellington.

That distinct period served the organization well, according to Wellington. “When I first started Freetown Village, I decided to focus on that period since there were so many things that happened after the Civil War to benefit African Americans,” said Wellington, referring to the passage of the 15th amendment, which granted African American men the right to vote, as well as the 13th and 14th amendments, which abolished slavery and provided all U.S. citizens, including former slaves, equal protection under the laws. “It was an unusually safe period of time for African Americans.” 

About 15 years ago, Wellington decided to modify and expand that focus — among the many steps she has taken to ensure that Freetown Village maintains its resilience. “After research, I decided we need to expand beyond that era — after 1870 and even before 1870,” she said. “It allowed us to talk about a more inclusive history of African Americans in Indiana. It gave us the liberty to do something different.”

While expanding an organization’s mission can have advantages, it also comes with disadvantages, according to Wellington. Although Freetown Village has put on numerous productions since modifying its mission, the organization continues to address questions related to its productions set in other time periods. “A lot of people still think we’re only making productions in 1870,” she said. “Many of them are surprised. It requires a significant amount of marketing to inform people.”

Maintaining sustainability as a small nonprofit

With the nonprofit organization celebrating its 40th anniversary, Freetown Village has avoided a statistic that haunts many other nonprofits. According to the National Center on Charitable Statistics, more than 30 percent of all nonprofit organizations will fail within the first 10 years. And, the fallout from the global pandemic will likely result in even higher numbers of failures in the coming years.

Organizational assessments: What are they and why does your organization need one?
by Erin Hedges, founder and president, Hedges 

It’s that time of the year again … the time when we get to say, “Let’s circle back on that after the holidays” or “We’ll regroup in the new year.” It’s the time for forecasting and budgeting … for reflecting on what was accomplished and what goals we should set for the future.
Nonprofit leaders constantly balance day-to-day management with long-term strategic thinking, but the end of the year always brings that task to bear in unique and time-sensitive ways. As the page turns from Q4 back to Q1, nonprofit executives are often wondering, “Is my organization on track and how do I know?” At Hedges, our recommendation for answering this question is simple: Like any successful employee, organizations need an annual review to measure their health, effectiveness, and growth. We call this an organizational assessment.

What is an organizational assessment? An organizational assessment is a measurement tool designed to assess your organization’s current standing — both in areas of strength and areas where there are critical gaps. Ultimately, it should capture your organization’s key strengths and challenges across the core functions of a nonprofit.

At Hedges, we call these the Four Pillars of Organizational Health. These pillars are Programs & Impact, Leadership & Culture, Marketing & Communications, and Finance & Development. Using this Four-Pillar framework, Hedges benchmarks organizations against 30 Organizational Indicators aligned with leading industry standards and informed by our experience in partnering with more than 140 nonprofit organizations over the last 20 years.
This 30-indicator assessment includes overarching questions such as:

  • Are there systems and processes in place to measure the organization’s impact?
  • Do the individuals impacted have opportunities to inform program delivery?
  • Does the organization have strong staff satisfaction and retention?

Episode 32: Join Bryan Orander as he discusses the release of Charitable Advisor's new Welcome to the Board downloadable ebook, which includes best practices and tips for board new nonprofit board members. Bryan also talks about the value of a brief board self-assessment process in setting the board on a good path during a new year. Listen
Women’s Fund of Central Indiana has named Tamara Winfrey-Harris as president. Winfrey-Harris also is the vice president of people, culture and brand for Central Indiana Community Foundation.
Indianapolis-based Kenzie Academy has hired Melissa Paciulli as executive director. Paciulli previously was director of the Holyoke Community College STEM Starter Academy in Massachusetts. — Inside Indiana Business
Choices Coordinated Care Solutions has promoted Richard “Ty” Rowlinson to vice president of clinical services. Rowlinson formerly was clinical services manager for the Indiana Department of Child Services
Choices Coordinated Care Solution has named Qiana Paynter to director of behavioral health services. Paynter previously was clinical director of Kaleidoscope.
The Indianapolis Foundation, a member of the CICF philanthropic collaborative, has awarded more than $1.3 million in grants that align with the foundation’s mission to mobilize people, ideas and investments to increase equitable opportunities for individuals throughout the community. Learn more

The Indy Chamber Foundation has been awarded a grant to help 19 small and medium-size companies build and retain a diverse workforce, including Ivy Tech Indianapolis, IndyGo, and Girl Scouts of Central Indiana. Read more

Indiana State University (ISU) has received the largest individual donation in the institution’s history. The ISU Board of Trustees has approved the naming of the Bailey College of Engineering and Technology in recognition of the $8 million donation from Steve and Gloria Bailey.

NOTE: The Not-for-profit News will take a break from publishing the week of Dec. 27
IU McKinney Law is offering a virtual Juris Doctor information session on Jan. 9 from noon-1 p.m. for those interested in applying to start law school in the fall of 2023. The one-hour session outlines the steps in the application process. Register

How to create a social media strategy for your nonprofit webinar is on Jan. 11 at 1 p.m. Social media can be an effective communication tool for nonprofits, but only if nonprofits understand that creating engaging content is essential to acquiring new supporters and donors from social media. Presented by Nonprofit Tech for Good. Cost: $20. Register

People first strategic leadership series starts on Feb. 9 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. The series consists of six interactive sessions and two individual, one-on-one coaching sessions that take a deep dive into key components of successful leadership development. Presented by Purple Ink. Cost: $1,850. 10% off with EARLYBIRD promo code by Jan. 9. Register

Mark Your Calendar Indianapolis is hosting the 2023 American Evaluation Association Annual Conference from Oct. 9-14, 2023. Evaluation 2023 will feature more than 500 sessions to learn from evaluation experts covering a wide range of specialties, including human services, education, health, and philanthropy. Budget $500-$600 for conference fees plus any travel expenses. Learn more or contact 
CHIP is seeking volunteers to help with the annual Point-in-Time Count taking place Jan. 23–27, 2023. Volunteers will partner with outreach teams to survey individuals they encounter during their outreach activities as well as at designated sites like day centers and libraries where individuals experiencing homelessness may spend time. For more information, contact Julie Stanley
New York City recently began to require salary ranges in job advertisements. California and Washington state will follow suit in January 2023.
How to engage Generation Z as they get older and move into leadership positions.
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