History of NAM
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The Nonprofit Association of the Midlands (NAM) was incorporated in 2002 as an outgrowth of ServNet, a nonprofit collaboration established to provide a strong, unified voice for the human services sector. The collaborating members recognized the need for a formal, sustained alliance with a common mission to serve all nonprofits in the Midlands. Representatives worked together to develop the expansion of the business plan for Nebraska and Southwest Iowa.

Today, we encompass a diverse membership that covers all sectors of the nonprofit community. NAM offers members access to networking opportunities, up-to-date information, cost-saving group purchasing programs, education & training, legislative advocacy – including teaching advocacy skills to individual organizations – and publications targeting Nebraska’s nonprofit sector. 

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I. History of Nonprofit Association of the Midlands

In 1993, ServNet was founded to "establish a strong, unified voice for nonprofit agencies that demonstrated and asserted leadership, advocacy and service in response to community and organizational needs." In order to complete more goals and broaden its mission, ServNet became NAM in 2002 to "explore nonprofit issues beyond the initial ones of human services." As a result, NAM expanded its services to all nonprofit organizations in Nebraska and Southwest Iowa.

NAM is a 501 C3 nonprofit organization and is governed to be Chamber of Commerce for all nonprofits in the greater Nebraska area. A CEO and two other full time employees run the office. In addition, there is a Board of Directors consisting of a President, Vice President, President-Elect, Secretary, Treasurer and an additional number of individual board members. The one central office is situated in south Omaha, and the 227 member organizations are located throughout Nebraska and Iowa.

Individuals who are employed by the member nonprofits make up task forces within NAM, which serve to better the organization in numerous ways. These task forces include Public Policy, Technology, Human Resources and Promotions, which consists of the marketing, membership and sales committees.

NAM has made a few changes over the years, including changing the organization's name from ServNet to NAM. Before the organization started to expand its vision, it mainly focused on human services. Yet, it has now enlarged to encompass the arts, healthcare, human services and technology. NAM also changed its tagline from "Building Capacity" to the present "Connect, Promote, Strengthen." NAM's current mission is "to maximize the capacity of members, individual and collective and to deliver programs and services efficiently and effectively to meet organizational and community needs."

To accomplish its mission, NAM currently provides services to help nonprofits through educational opportunities in areas such as public policy, advocacy and training, especially in technology and software. With the purpose of highlighting the services it offers to the nonprofit community, NAM promotes ten reasons why non-members should join:

1.Increased networking opportunities for information-sharing and collaboration.

2.Cost reductions through group purchasing and preferred provider arrangements.

3.Staff and board development using customized, professional training programs.

4.Increased operational efficiencies from technology based consulting services. 

5. Comprehensive marketing and promotion of services, programs and special events.

6. Timely information on public policy issues and governmental regulatory initiatives.

7.Innovative workshops from renowned experts in a variety of fields.

8.Resourceful and practical fundraising seminars, including e-commerce development.

9. Enhanced employee benefits resulting from the availability of group insurance plans.

10. A comprehensive community calendar that lists all member events on the NAM

website.

 

NAM will also provide services to assist member nonprofits when a version of Sarbanes-Oxley that applies to nonprofits becomes law in 2009. Its current product features and membership benefits include:

Health Insurance Trust and 401 K/ 403 B

Directors and Officers Insurance

Supplemental Insurance

Networking Opportunities

Web Tools

Free online donations system for fundraising

Education and Training Seminars

Special Events

Nonprofit Executive Institute

Communication newsletters/emails

Facilities Rental

Audio/Web-Conferencing Services

Business Partner discounts

NAM has a number of key target audiences. These constituencies include current member nonprofits, potential member nonprofit organizations, donors, business partners and the community at large. NAM's business partners are currently Office Depot, Physician's Mutual Print Services Division, Integrity Staffing, DS Resources, Sprint and Whetstone Business Solutions. NAM communicates with its membership by email and a weekly on-line newsletter titled "Tuesday Talk." All nonprofits listed in its online nonprofit directory, which includes non-NAM members, receive a quarterly hard-copy newsletter NAM also holds membership meetings every two months to discuss the business of the organization and. It also sponsors a nonprofit Summit once a year as well.

The main threat to NAM is the lack of money in the nonprofit sector. As a 501 C3 organization, it is able to apply for government grants, but does not want to be seen as competing with other nonprofits, current or potential members, for the funding. This could potentially cause animosity between the two organizations, which is a problem that NAM does not want to experience. As a result, it must be very cautious and creative in attempting to raise the funds needed to run the organization. In order to stay clear of this possible predicament, NAM needs to have a good awareness of its mirror and current. self- image.

NAM sees nonprofits as the "3rd sector of the economy," attempting to provide purchasing power" through a large number of beneficial services found in larger group membership with in health/dental insurance and discounts from business partners. NAM believes it knows and understands what its key audiences desire; however that is not the case. In a survey done by NAM, nonprofits throughout the Omaha know little to nothing about NAM and the benefits it provides. Even if they did know about the organization, the services member and non-member nonprofits valued did not correspond to what NAM thought its constituents desired. In addition, there is little awareness of NAM in the community-at-large.

NAM has a number of future goals. It would like to see its membership increase and have its current membership become more involved in task forces and seminars. NAM would also like to recruit more donors to facilitate a budget increase. By increasing the number of memberships and donors to NAM, it has a future target of raising its marketing budget from 30 percent of the current dues to a total 75 percent. In addition, it would like to augment the meetings and seminars with social networking gatherings in order to enlarge the number of individual members. Lastly, NAM would like to strengthen its relationship with the community-at-large by increasing the awareness and involvement of NAM within it.

Il. The Communication Need/Problem

NAM has numerous communication problems that must be resolved in order for it to achieve its organizational mission and reach its full potential. Like many other nonprofits, the largest issue that NAM faces is the lack of funds, and this overarching concern creates a number of sub-problems that all relate back to it. Once all of the smaller issues are dealt with, this problem will diminish with time. The first issue that must be taken care of is the lack of membership. There are only 227 nonprofits that are members in NAM, compared to more than 5000 in the greater Nebraska area. Nonprofits do not have a large budget, and as a result, do not see the benefits in joining organizations such as NAM.

This issue leads into the second problem: NAM does not know how to showcase its benefits to its potential members, and instead, highlights features of its organization. The results from a survey NAM that had on its web site effectively demonstrate this point. The features that NAM are highlighting are not the same ones that prospective and current members desire or value to the same degree. Therefore, NAM must be able to identify what benefits are important to its members and how being a member of NAM will help them in the long run. Hopefully, the identification and marketing of the correct benefits, rather than features, will help to increase membership.

There are also a few issues within NAM that need to be addressed. NAM does not have a good system to disseminate information about upcoming workshops, seminars, meetings and summits. As of now, the only person who gets this information is the nonprofit contact, and it tends to get lost or deleted. There is a need to create a method in which information can be sent out to all members, instead of just the nonprofit contact. Since there is a huge need for individual members to become more engaged and involved, this will help to increase those numbers as well.

Finally, as a consequence of the lack of monetary funding, NAM's marketing budget is extremely small. It is essential to enlarge it through two means: members and donors. Dues from new members allocated to the marketing budget will help this problem somewhat, but more donors and sponsors are desperately needed. Currently, there are only three donors giving at least $10,000 per year to the organization, and the level needs to be increased to at least six to nine donors per year. Another important way to help boost NAM's financial situation is to raise the awareness level about the organization in the community-at-large. Word of mouth is still an extremely effective recruiting tool, and increasing awareness of NAM will only help to resolve all of the problems discussed above.

NAM has not made any deliberate and thought out attempts to resolve these issues. An on-line survey was taken, yet not enough respondents answered the questions posed by NAM. A small PSA was also taken out in Metro Monthly Magazine but was not effective either. Despite the current economic situation, if the above communication problems are fixed, NAM will become a more efficient and effective nonprofit organization in the greater Nebraska area.