A different way to plant the seeds of success

A different way to plant the seeds of success

 

Making capital available to individuals and businesses is one way a bank can nurture a community’s vitality. But as Huntington’s Seeds for Growth workshop has shown, it’s hardly the only one.

Making capital available to individuals and businesses is one way a bank can nurture a community’s vitality. But as Huntington’s Seeds for Growth workshop has shown, it’s hardly the only one.

Seeds for Growth is a professional development opportunity for executive directors, presidents/CEOs, board leaders and development directors of local nonprofit organizations. The half-day event, which is free to attend, was first held in Columbus, Ohio, in 2002. Since 2011, workshops have also run in other Huntington’s communities, including Toledo, Youngstown, Indianapolis, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Cleveland and Pittsburgh.1

“The first thing we say, even opening up, is thank you to the attendees,” said Steven Fields, vice president, community engagement director and president, Huntington Foundation. “‘Thank you for the work you do in the community because without you, we wouldn’t be as vibrant as we are.’”2

Attendees learn about current trends in nonprofits — 2015’s theme was relationship building — have personal access to funding-community leaders, and, importantly, get to talk to one another.

“They may know their peers … but they don’t really get the chance to sit down at a table and talk with them,” Fields said. “So we intentionally have built in networking time. We have actually created a salon outside of the education room with tables, food, where you can have some one-on-one time. The ability to be with their peers and learn what’s going on — that’s what (the attendees) really like.”3

Fields said Huntington also participates in the networking, connecting nonprofit groups with shared or overlapping goals.

“We preach collaboration and working together,” Fields said. “If (the nonprofits) come as a greater group, they stand a greater chance of getting funding, as opposed to coming in solo. We’ve seen a lot of success in that.”4

Workshop attendance has grown over the years, which isn’t surprising given that despite the economy’s upticks, nonprofits’ missions never get easier.

“Their world continues to be a challenge,” Fields said. “Obviously, you’ve got the government cutbacks in funding. You have … corporations, funders who are becoming more laser-focused. They’re starting to set more priorities, like certain areas they want to focus on.

“If you’re in their target area, that’s great,” Fields added. “But if you’re an arts organization and you’re going after (a funder) that no longer does that, you may find some challenges.”5

Representation at Seeds for Growth runs the gamut from one-person nonprofits to 100-person organizations.

“We don’t turn anybody away,” Fields said. “Everyone’s welcome … because we’re all in it for the right reasons.”6

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Panel speaking at a recent Seeds for Growth event.

 

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Attendees gather and network at a recent Seeds for Growth event.