ONEplace@kpl: Opportunities for Nonprofit Excellence
ONEplace@kpl (Kalamazoo Public Library) is a management support center for all who lead, manage, and support nonprofit organizations in Kalamazoo County. Located at and operated by Kalamazoo Public Library, ONEplace provides free, open access to a wide variety of capacity-building resources, trainings, technical assistance, referrals, and networking opportunities.
Problem StatementThe Kalamazoo County nonprofit sector had attempted on several occasions, over many years, to develop a resource to serve the professional and developmental needs of nonprofit sector staff, volunteers, and organizations as a whole. At one point in the early 2000s, a task force of nonprofit representatives joined forces and developed training workshops for the sector for a year. The task force received a grant for a resource center feasibility study from a local foundation. The study clearly indicated a need, yet the foundation community wasn’t in a position to provide the necessary sustainable funding, and the task force disbanded.
By the late 2000âs the number of nonprofits soared, fueled by increasing numbers of new, grassroots organizations to over 1,400, including approximately 400 tax-exempt, charitable 501c3s. Kalamazoo County’s two largest foundations, United Way, and other resource organizations serving multiple nonprofits were swamped with requests for funds and assistance, including technical assistance outside of their missions and capacity. Without a source of high-quality, developmental assistance, donor/foundation/public funds were not being utilized as professionally and productively as desired, and many nonprofits floundered and/or closed.
In 2008, a task force was convened by program officers of Kalamazoo County’s two largest foundations to explore development of a nonprofit resource center. Several key nonprofit leaders, including Kalamazoo Public Library administrators, invested several months of research and field trips to existing centers before concluding the time and level of need had reached the “tipping point” for a center to provide significant value for the community. The goal was set to create “one place for everyone to go for assistance and training.” The foundations approached the KPL with a proposal to house and operate the center with funds provided by the foundations.
In October, 2008, a director was hired to develop the infrastructure and program/service delivery model. ONEplace@kpl opened in March, 2009, as a nonprofit management support center offering individual and organizational capacity-building services and programs to all nonprofits in Kalamazoo County. Services/programs include: individual and small group counseling/consulting; skill building workshops and webinars; peer-networks; consultants & trainers network; extensive collection of resources; Foundation Center Cooperating Collection and Directory; and community collaborations.
ONEplace@kpl offers (onsite) over 160 workshops, peer-networks, and webinars per year - all designed to build individual and organizational capacities and community networks. Constituents receive over 8,000 resource and/or consulting contacts with ONEplace staff (1.75 FTE) per year. Evaluations and surveys continuously reflect high levels of satisfaction and value to both individuals and their organizations. In addition, our dynamic website and circulating library provide extensive resources constituents can access on their own schedules.
Over 1,600 individuals, representing close to 500 organizations, participate in programs, services, and/or receive our bi-weekly eNews.
We launched a Kalamazoo County nonprofit employment opportunities website and bulletin board in January, 2011. Both employers and job seekers actively use the service, which often has 50+ openings simultaneously posted.
In early 2012, we launched a 10-day ONEplace Nonprofit Leadership Academy to prepare 19 high-potential managers in mid/large nonprofits for potential executive positions. The Academy includes work sessions, assessments, resources, and ongoing mentoring.
ONEplace staff actively engages community leaders and organizations in collaborative efforts and/or referrals to build synergies, assess needs, and work to solve issues that can’t be addressed alone.
In addition, marketing and community outreach opportunities inform the general public who often refer new people to ONEplace. New people participate in almost every program, and often become regular attendees. The number of individuals and organizations we serve will continue to grow as awareness increases and additional programs and services are added to meet nonprofit community needs.
ONEplace@kpl started with a three-year pilot grant from each of two major funders, both of which were renewed in July, 2011. The local United Way, LISC, and three small foundations are also now providing small grants to support ONEplace. Kalamazoo Public Library continues to embrace ONEplace as an integrated, externally funded program and resource for our community.