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Delaware Nonprofits: Endless Discoveries
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DANA's new President and CEO Sheila Bravo reflects on her discovery of DANA and the nonprofit sector in Delaware.


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Collaboration is Key

Posted By Sheila Bravo, Wednesday, September 16, 2015

This past week I have had the opportunity to meet with a variety of nonprofit, philanthropic, and community leaders. The passion of these leaders in finding solutions to eliminate poverty, find affordable housing, and address issues of disparity and discrimination is inspiring. Many of them are working with other nonprofits and foundations to address these issues in a bigger way.

For example, the CenDel Foundation has partnered with the Delaware Community Foundation, business leaders, and nonprofit leaders to identify opportunities to improve the quality of life in Central Dover. Out of that collaboration emerged a Central Dover Revitalization plan to improve safety, engage the city’s youth, expand family services, boost home ownership, and support new development downtown.  A national grant has been secured to kick off the funding needed for project implementation over the next five years. But these organizations haven’t stopped there. They are continuing to meet and find new ways to collaborate to improve their operational efficiencies and expand mission impact.

At this summer’s annual DANA Conference, another collaborative initiative took place. DANA, the Delaware Community Foundation (DCF), the Delaware Grantmakers Association (DGA), United Way of Delaware (UW), and the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) sampled  over 100 key community leaders in the nonprofit, government, education, philanthropic, and business arenas in order to listen to their ideas on how to make Delaware, and in particular, how to make the nonprofit sector great. We were thrilled to have gotten a full list of ideas, which were then synthesized into several themes. Our collaborative organizations then sent out the themes to conference attendees to be ranked. Their feedback told us there is:

  • A desire for more collaboration to improve efficiencies as well as enhance collective impact;
  • A push to evaluate community needs and understand which organizations are serving those needs throughout the State and how they are doing it;
  • A curiosity to explore whether organization consolidation or expansion should take place and how; and
  • A need to identify common outcome measurements that permit the community, nonprofits, and funders to make better decisions on resource allocation and decision making.
Did you know: DANA has a collaboration training coming up! “Building a Sustainable Organization with Collaboration” will be held October 14, 15, and 16 in all 3 counties. Click here to learn more and register.

As I continue to meet the leaders of DANA’s partner organizations, members, elected officials, and community and philanthropic leaders, I will explore these themes to learn more about how DANA can help facilitate their achievement. Some work on this has already begun through conversations this summer among representatives from DANA, DGA, DCF, UW, and AFP. If you have ideas or wish to talk about this further, please let me know. Your voice matters.


Tags:  collaboration  DANA  Delaware  nonprofits 

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Discover Delaware Nonprofits With Me

Posted By Sheila Bravo, Wednesday, September 2, 2015

This week is my first as President and CEO of DANA. When it was announced I would be taking this position, some people asked ‘what is DANA’ or ‘what do they do’? When I came into the office on Monday, I realized that many of those questions could be answered by sharing what I’m learning during my orientation. So, Iam excited to pass along some of the insights I learn as I listen to the staff, board, partners, and leaders that make the nonprofit sector so vibrant. In an effort to capture the essence of Delaware’s slogan "Endless Discoveries,” I invite you to discover Delaware’s nonprofits through my eyes as DANA’s new CEO. My discovery of DANA and the nonprofit sector can also be yours through this blog.

First and foremost, let me tell you about the staff of DANA. I’ve met with each of them to learn what they do and how they support the mission of DANA. They work so hard to support the nonprofits that engage with DANA through membership, advocacy, consulting and training. I was so impressed with their depth of knowledge, and really appreciated how they are willing to do what it takes to get the job done.

John Baker – Executive Vice President of Policy and Programs

John has an amazing understanding of the who’s who and the ‘how it is done’. His recent work advocating for funding for nonprofits in the 2015 State budget process really paid off when there were no cuts to Grant-in-Aid funding. But John is not one to stand still. He knows that next year will be challenging for Delaware public officials with the budget forecasts, so he is already working with key sector leaders to identify solutions. You’ll learn more about this in the coming months!

Paul Stock – Executive Vice President of Consulting

Factoid about DANA membership: Today I learned that member organizations can get handy best practice education packets on a variety of Standards of Excellence topics. Need a template for a policy or a sample board member commitment statement? Contact John Baker and he can send you FREE information from the Standards for Excellence program.
Paul joined DANA a little over a year ago to strengthen DANA’s consulting practice. He has engaged several super-talented consultants with tremendous expertise in strategic planning, board governance, collaboration, marketing, and fundraising to help Delaware nonprofits solve their unique challenges. His leadership in coalescing the sector ideas of 100 nonprofit leaders gathered at the June Jim Collins conference will help shape our dialog regarding future DANA initiatives.

Kristin Davis – Vice President of Communications and Marketing

Kristin is the voice of DANA and works to connect DANA to its members and the community through social media, the DANA website, and emails. Did you know that Kristin was recently named to the DBT40 Class of 2015 (young professionals, all under the age of 40, making a difference with their intelligence, initiative, and innovation)? She is also a fellow in the Leadership Delaware Class of 2015. Kristin is a great team member who continues to develop so she can help advance the sector.

Kathryn Soja Johnson – Program and Event Manager

Kate just joined the DANA team on Monday, as well. She took on Caitlin Giles-McCormick’s role to support DANA’s wide variety of programming, and will be a friendly voice for our members connect with as they join. In the weeks and months ahead, many members will hear from Kate on how DANA can provide the support they need to become more efficient and effective.

Nicole Wandersee – Administrative Assistant

Nicki also recently joined DANA after Andye Daley’s departure. She is the first voice you hear when you call the office. Nicki is helping to keep the DANA team and its board organized. She has already been a tremendous help to me.

Tags:  CEO  DANA  Delaware  Endless Discoveries  membership  nonprofits  President 

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