February 2, 2021
A Community Building Reminder: The Vital Importance of Active Listening
by Nicole Zerillo, Nonprofit Quarterly

If you say you’re focused on “community building,” you may get as many questions as responses. Yet community building remains critical for nonprofits in civil society to be effective partners with the groups that they often seek to partner with and serve. (See “The Problem with Philanthropic ‘Self-Accountability’” as an example of what can happen when we don’t.)

Before putting together plans, deeper research and conversation are needed. A year ago, the UCSF (University of California, San Francisco) Preterm Birth Initiative (PTBi), explored the challenge of community engagement at their December 2019 “collaboratory” gathering. PTBi uses a research justice framework, “where mainstream knowledge is given equal importance as cultural and spiritual and experiential work,” alongside a research prioritization process and community advisory board.

As Daphina Melbourne, PTBi’s community engagement specialist, warns, “Do not go into communities wanting to save them. We do not need to be saved. We can save ourselves. We need your technical support.”

To build community effectively requires a focus on collaboration. An example of this approach is provided by the Kheprw Institute in Indianapolis. Focused on “community empowerment through self-mastery,” the nonprofit offers programs, from democratizing data to community-controlled food, as means to tap into “the collective power that resides in under-resourced communities, especially Black communities, to create the opportunities and environment we want to live in.”

As Imhotep Adisa, the group’s executive director, explained to the Indianapolis Star, “We consider ourselves to be community wealth builders, not just entrepreneurs, but entrepreneurs focused on adding value to the community, wealth to the community, not only through a fiscal lens but through intellectual, cultural, and social capital as core tenants of the community wealth building.”

Nonprofits seeking to pursue increased community engagement and institutional efficacy must find a balance of working in brick-and-mortar places and online spaces. Always, the challenge of inclusivity remains. And inclusive communities are often embedded in place.

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Legal Knowledge is More Important Than Ever
The Anderson Symphony Orchestra has hired Darla Sallee as executive director. Sallee previously served as webmaster and director of Anderson TV for the City of Anderson.
The American Heart Association has named Amanda Mills as its executive director in Indianapolis. Mills will oversee the fundraising and community engagement initiatives that advance the AHA’s mission in Central Indiana.
Indiana Forest Alliance has hired Morgan Whitacre as development director. Whitacre previously served as a development officer for Earlham College, and as a campaign finance director for numerous candidates.
EmployIndy has promoted Robin Kildall to associate director of development. Kildall previously served as development manager for the organization.
EmployIndy has promoted Kate Ryan to associate director of strategic communications. Ryan previously served as the organization’s strategic communications manager.
EmployIndy has promoted Ashley Downey to associate director of learning and technical assistance. Downey previously served as job ready manager for EmployIndy.
The Central Indiana nonprofit salary survey by Charitable Advisors was sent out today. Please check your email for the survey link if you are the organization’s contact. If you were expecting it and do not see it, please check your spam and other folders. For assistance, contact Julie Struble at Julie@charitableadvisors.com. She will send your organization’s unique survey link.

The United Way of Central Indiana (UWCI) has announced that it received a $25 million donation from philanthropist and author MacKenzie Scott, the largest gift from a single donor the organization has ever received. UWCI plans to work with community partners over the next three to five years to determine how to best use the unrestricted gift. The organization indicated that the priority will be on economic and social mobility programs. Read more

The Damar Foundation has received a $100,000 grant from the Allen Whitehill Clowes Charitable Foundation for sensory landscaping at Damar Village, a safe, supportive housing complex opening this spring for adults with developmental disabilities. Read more

The Junior League of Indianapolis is accepting applications for its Trust Fund Grant program. Nonprofit organizations that serve children with physical or developmental disabilities in Marion County are eligible and may request funding of up to $5,000. Read more

Lilly Endowment Inc. has awarded the Indiana Afterschool Network $540,000 to support the quality enhancements of out-of-school time programs across Indiana and to ensure that high-quality programming is more accessible to children and families. Read more

Mitch Daniels Leadership Foundation is seeking applications for its fellowship program, which provides up to 25 individuals access to influential people, organizations and resources to accelerate the state’s progress on key growth initiatives. Applications will be accepted until March 14, 2021. To apply, visit the MDLF site.
According to Dealaid.org, more than 70 percent of respondents said they made a charitable contribution last year, compared with roughly 62 percent who said they did in 2019.
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