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Local charities come together for Nonprofit Showcase

Ashley Morales

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More than a dozen nonprofit leaders presented at the United Way Suncoast's Pinellas County Nonprofit Achievement Showcase March 27 at the Center for Healthy Equity in St. Petersburg. Photo: Ashley Morales.

United Way Suncoast made good on its commitment to collaboration and capacity building with a Pinellas County Nonprofit Achievement Showcase Wednesday in St. Petersburg.

The event, held at Foundation for a Healthy St. Pete’s Center for Health Equity, followed similar showcases in Hillsborough and DeSoto Counties the day before. In addition to providing direct support and hosting its own programming, United Way Suncoast invests in other community organizations by partnering with Results 1st, a for-profit company designed to help nonprofits achieve their goals.

This is the second year of the program, where nonprofit leaders either apply or are nominated to participate in months of classes and coaching designed to help them learn to track and share program outcomes, including learning storytelling techniques to help them relay harder-to-quantify results.

“We know the lasting impact our program has on our students, but we’ve never had the tools to tell that story,” said Melissa Neeley, CEO of the Ryan Nece Foundation, a nonprofit with a mission to create opportunities for teens through volunteerism and leadership programs. “We focus so much on sharing compelling outputs, like the number of education hours we were able to provide or the number of service hours our students completed. So our one key takeaway is that we learned to focus our storytelling on the real results, which is the growth we see in our students. While we knew our program was impacting students in the long term, we’ve never had the data to share or prove that until now.”

This year’s cohort included 19 new nonprofits and six returning from last year to continue learning:

  • Achieve Plant City
  • Barbershop Book Club
  • BUBBA Male Solutions
  • Daystar Life Center
  • Enterprising Latinas
  • Family Promise of Hillsborough County
  • Gulf Coast JFCS
  • Habitat for Humanity of Hillsborough County
  • Learn and Serve Tampa
  • Learning Empowered LLC
  • Learning Independence for Tomorrow (LiFT)
  • Mount Zion Human Services
  • NAMI Pinellas County
  • Parc Center for Disabilities
  • Pinellas Sheriff’s Police Athletic League
  • Ryan Nece Foundation
  • St. Pete Free Clinic
  • Suncoast Voices for Children
  • The Kind Mouse Productions

Of the cohort, 11 of the new participants and two of the returning nonprofit leaders presented Wednesday in St. Petersburg, showcasing their main takeaways from the Results 1st program.

“We learned the importance of collecting targeted data to gain clarity on our current performance,” said Siomara Bridges-Mata, Executive Director of NAMI Pinellas. “The program also emphasized the value of sharing targets organizational-wide, and this alignment ensures that all efforts are directly contributing to our overall target, maximizing effectiveness and ultimately improving outcomes for our participants.”

Josh Dunn, Vice President for Investments & Partnership Strategies at United Way Suncoast, said they pay about $5,000 per nonprofit to Results 1st for this program. He said supporting and empowering other organizations helps everyone in the space better serve the community.

“We have lots of peers that are all coming to the same conclusion, that competition detracts and collaboration actually multiplies the impact of our investments. Now we’re in communication, we’re not duplicating efforts and we’re doubling down on things that work,” Dunn said.

“The donor dollars the United Way receives come from the community, and we have to be ethical stewards of that and make sure that it’s getting as far as it can. Giving a grant and having people fight amongst each other will not accomplish that. Collecting people together [and] convening our efforts gets us to the most effective and ethical use of the dollar and the best outcomes.”

The move away from competition and toward a more collaborative, collective impact approach is something Dunn and other nonprofit leaders at the United Way showcase said they’ve seen happening throughout the Tampa Bay Area.

“Our experience underscores the necessity of swift pivoting and implementing innovations to better assist our clients,” said Heide Cornell, Executive Director of Daystar Life Center. “In response, we are committed to forming intentional partnerships with other community-based organizations for things such as vocational training, employment development, mental health first aid and adopting a trauma-informed approach to services. These initiatives will enhance our ability to address the diverse needs of our community members and further our mission of fostering lasting positive change.”

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