The recent announcement of the closing of a high-profile local nonprofit with a long history of service comes the same week as the launch of a new online center aimed at strengthening Missoula’s diverse nonprofit sector.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Missoula will close its doors May 31, after nearly 50 years of matching children facing adversity with strong adult mentors through professionally supported matches. The organization’s closure is a blow to adults and vulnerable kids alike.
It also highlights the fragility of many of our area’s nonprofits, and underscores the importance of helping nonprofits — major determinants of the quality of life in any community — grow and flourish. The new Missoula Nonprofit Center, housed at United Way of Missoula County and resulting from the merger of the Missoula Nonprofit Network and Volunteer Missoula, will bring Missoula nonprofits together to collaborate, create and support one another through the sharing of ideas, resources, expertise and motivation.
To do so, MNC offers members — 50 so far, with a membership list that grows daily — a suite of benefits, including trainings, multiple networking opportunities and information-sharing. It combines the strengths of both Volunteer Missoula and the former Missoula Nonprofit Network, helping bridge the gap between organizations and volunteers, increasing volunteerism and streamlining work. MNC will also help forge connections between civic-minded Missoulians and community nonprofits, disaster-relief efforts, fundraising events and much more.
In addition to structured networking opportunities, MNC will also provide its members with free workshops on topics critical to nonprofit success: board development and training, volunteer management, fundraising, communications, budgeting, human resources, strategic planning, crisis management and more. MNC members will receive free access to these professional development workshops, plus event promotion on MNC’s event calendar and social media platforms, and the ability to post job openings and volunteer opportunities.
It is unlikely that MNC membership would have saved Big Brothers Big Sisters. But it would have given the nonprofit’s staff and board of directors free access to the wisdom and skills of qualified leaders — paid and volunteer — with experience in virtually all aspects of nonprofit management and governance. In our nonprofit-rich community, there’s considerable expertise and knowledge waiting to be shared. There are opportunities to learn and teach, to support and celebrate, and yes, to commiserate when times are tough. Now there is a modernized platform enabling MNC to facilitate all this among thousands of people with one common goal: to make Missoula stronger, more connected, and better by bolstering our nonprofit sector.