The Enterprise Center at Salem State College in Salem, Mass., is reaching out to nonprofit organizations with a host of specialized business training.
"Nonprofits are major employers in our region but get no business skill training," says Christine Sullivan, incubator executive director.
After receiving many requests for educational programming from nonprofits, the center conducted a survey on regional nonprofit needs. They found that much of what respondents sought was already available via 70 educational programs the Enterprise Center offers. As a result, the Enterprise Center created a nonprofit training track by opening up those existing programs to nonprofits and creating some new programs featuring topics specifically tailored to nonprofit needs, such as budgeting, fundraising and working with boards of directors.
The center held its first nonprofit program, "Raising Money for Your Nonprofit Organization," in September 2008. Fifty-three individuals attended, representing organizations focused on human services, arts and culture, youth services, historic preservation, housing, community social programs and more, according to Laura Swanson, assistant executive director.
Building on a long history of successful training offerings to the greater entrepreneurial community, the center was able to build the nonprofit track using speakers who do the work pro bono. The minimal expenses for putting on the programs are covered by revenues generated by other incubator activities.
Sullivan says helping nonprofit organizations is part of the incubator's long-term effort to grow the regional economy.
"We know that knowledge workers are interested in living in places with many amenities and high quality of life," she says. "Nonprofits focused on historic preservation and recreation, in particular, are part of the amenities that draw people to the region. It is important that we keep them alive and help them succeed."