New group initiates nonprofit network
If you go
What: NPO Connection bimonthly roundtable seminar for nonprofit organizations
When: 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of every second month, starting Tuesday, Aug. 23.
Where: Rotary Botanical Gardens, 1455 Palmer Drive, Janesville.
Cost: Free with lunch provided
To register: Visit wegnercpas.com or call 1-888-204-7665.
Kelli Cameron found opportunities through Forward Janesville to network with professionals in the business community.
But Cameron, the executive director of Rotary Botanical Gardens, wanted the same opportunity to network with nonprofit leaders in Rock County.
She approached Glenn Miller for his expertise.
Miller is a partner at Wegner CPAs, which works with about 600 nonprofit organizations through its Janesville, Madison, Milwaukee and Baraboo offices.
The firm 10 years ago started offering bimonthly roundtable discussions in Madison featuring speakers on topics of interest to the nonprofit community, Miller said.
"They have been incredibly successful and average 100 attendees at each session," he said.
After attending one, Cameron wanted to implement a similar initiative for nonprofits in the Rock County area.
She and Miller brought Sue Conley of the Community Foundation of Southern Wisconsin in on discussions. Janine Peterson of United Way of North Rock County and Steve Kinkade of Stateline United Way joined the network organizing effort, too.
Together they formed NPO Connection, a bimonthly roundtable to provide education and resources for Janesville area nonprofit organizations.
The first, free seminar is Tuesday, Aug. 23, when discussion will focus on Rock County 5.0, a five-year public/private initiative to advance Rock County's economic development vision.
"For the most part, nonprofits don't have the opportunity or access to these types of programs," Kinkade said.
"We fund several dozen not-for-profits and their budgets for training or conferences are quite meager," he said.
Cameron agreed: "We could all easily go to Madison if we needed to, but with the drive and time it takes to get there, with a small staff it's a lot better to do this locally, which also provides the opportunity to bring board members to the discussions."
Miller said he has seen dozens of connections forged at the Madison roundtable seminars.
"It gives people the opportunity to network with their peers and for them to take away pertinent information that will help them with their organization in addition to meeting a person or two in other similar nonprofits. Then if down the road they have problems or are looking for suggestions, now they'll have a name and face where they can make a phone call to," he said.
Input will be sought from those attending the first roundtable seminar.
"We want everybody to take ownership by recommending topics that can be incorporated in future roundtable seminars," Cameron said.
NPO Connection organizers will evaluate feedback and in choosing topics for future dates, Kinkade said.
Kinkade encourages all nonprofits to take advantage of this opportunity.
"No matter what it is, you always learn something. There's always a takeaway you can apply to your situation. Often times it may not be readily apparent, but in my experience, attend because you always find one or two ah-ha moments."