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Nonprofit Excellence Spotlight: Nonprofit Resource Network (NPRN)

2017 Partnership for Excellence Conference

Offering headlines such as, “Hundreds of Central Coast Students and Educators Participate in Global Entrepreneurship Summit,” “April 12 Luncheon to Remember World War I Centennial” and “Recruiting AmeriCorps Members,” the news on the Santa Barbara County’s Nonprofit Resource Network (NPRN) may not be the typical news you would see in the Santa Barbara Independent, Noozhawk or The New York Times. That is because NPRN is not your typical media site. Its true purpose is to serve as an online digital resource and digital hub for Santa Barbara County’s nonprofit community, offering news, jobs, events calendar and other resources.

“The goal of NPRN is to be an information resource that allows nonprofits to be better business people, specifically in areas that the nonprofit sector needs help, such as sharing job opportunities, providing webinars, recruiting qualified staff, board and volunteers and helping increase all-around organizational capacity to assist them in their work,” said Pamela Lewis, Chief Operating Officer of the Hutton Parker Foundation. “It is the one, centralized place that nonprofits can reliably go to get and share information.”

NPRN began in 2011 in response to the closure of the Nonprofit Support Center, a physical location that nonprofits could go to for assistance and to connect. The Hutton Parker Foundation led the effort, but soon various other funders joined in, making the project a countywide collaboration to support nonprofit excellence. These funders, including The Fund for Santa Barbara, Orfalea Foundation, Santa Barbara Foundation, James S. Bower Foundation and McCune Foundation, find NPRN just as beneficial to their own operations as it is to the nonprofits it is aims to help.

“As a funder, one of my jobs is to be a resource to our grantees,” said Claudia Armann, Executive Director of the McCune Foundation. “With NPRN, I have a place to direct groups who need to post a new job at their organization, find a grant writer, or identify potential funders.”

One of the most valuable aspects about NPRN is that it is member-driven, which means that organizations produce and share the content, providing a space for nonprofit-specific information. This provides a valuable network for members and allows organizations across sectors, and even beyond the nonprofit sector, to connect and engage with others doing similar work.

“After working in the nonprofit community of Santa Barbara County and participating in Leading From Within’s Emerging Leaders program, I learned about NPRN and use it in my current position at University of California, Santa Barbara to bridge the work I do at the university with the nonprofit community. This is especially valuable for large-scale events like town halls and our upcoming Marijuana panel – “Let’s Be Blunt: Weeding out the Truth with a Joint Panel of Experts,” said Marjan Riazi, Leadership and Communications Manager at the UCSB Alcohol and Drug Program. “I find the University tends to be relatively isolated from the downtown network, so NPRN offers an online space that can be helpful in bridging that gap.”

One of the biggest successes of NPRN thus far is its rapid growth in membership and its expansion in providing information that has bridged gaps and fostered innovation in nonprofit excellence, such as being the vehicle for the Partnership for Excellence Conference. In addition, in response to direct feedback from its members, NPRN recently launched the Grant Center and a Consultant Directory to expand the diversity of resources available to help nonprofits achieve excellence.

“NPRN is a partner to the nonprofit community because it achieves its goals by helping other organizations achieve theirs,” said Lewis. “It helps funders and nonprofits connect, listen and learn about what is really happening in the community so that they can collaborate even further about how to best support the Santa Barbara County nonprofit sector and make an even stronger community.”

For more information about NPRN, please visit the website. For more information about the Santa Barbara Foundation's efforts to promote nonprofit excellence, please contact Amy Schneider, Director of Grantmaking and Nonprofit Excellence, at aschneider@sbfoundation.org.

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