Big often not best for nonprofits

By Rebecca Keister
PBN Staff Writer

At their most recent staff retreat, the senior management of Child & Family, a social service nonprofit in Middletown, went on a two-day trip to engage in serious strategic planning and organizational framing. More

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Big often not best for nonprofits

PBN PHOTO/RUPERT WHITELEY
HELPING HANDS: From left: East Providence Boys and Girls Club Childcare Director Germaine Brito, Executive Director Erin Gilliatte and Teen Director Randie King.

By Rebecca Keister
PBN Staff Writer

Posted 9/24/12

At their most recent staff retreat, the senior management of Child & Family, a social service nonprofit in Middletown, went on a two-day trip to engage in serious strategic planning and organizational framing.

The excursion, at the University of Rhode Island’s W. Alton Jones Campus in West Greenwich, was a success, according to Keith Taveras, vice president of institutional advancement.

He said it helped the agency’s leadership shape plans for future programs and services and examine their vision for its continued mission. The trip was taken several years ago, involved about 30 of the organization’s 160 employees, and was the last such one for Child & Family.

“This was before or right around the time when the economy crashed, so things are a lot different now,” Taveras said.

It was not, of a course, a nonprofit organization that led introspection into spending on staff retreats and company outings in the wake of the economic downturn that began in 2008. (That trend is largely attributed to American International Group’s corporate retreat that cost nearly half a million dollars just after the company received an $86 billion federal bailout.)

But the effects of the down economy – which remains in slow recovery in Rhode Island – also put a focus on streamlining staff programs in light of budget cuts which, in the nonprofit industry, were compounded by losses in government aid, donations and grants.

“I think that organizations in a tough economic climate probably are cutting back on some … kinds of activities,” said Jill Pfitzenmayer, vice president of the Initiative for Nonprofit Excellence at The Rhode Island Foundation in Providence. “I just think that’s a trend of the times right now and I don’t think that’s a bad thing.”

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