Chapter Execs Gather for Annual Leadership Meeting

Diana AvivKeynote speaker Diana Aviv, president and CEO of Independent Sector, said that in order to be credible, nonprofits need to demonstrate that their work has made a positive difference.

Despite setbacks attributable to the recession and other causes, NASW has been pressing ahead with its advocacy agenda with success, NASW Executive Director Elizabeth J. Clark assured chapter executives at the 2010 Annual Leadership Meeting, which came on the heels of the Social Work Congress in Washington.

In her presentation, Clark highlighted some of the association’s recent successes, including encouraging lawmakers to pass the 2009 Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. While NASW was successful in getting several provisions of the Dorothy I. Height and Whitney M. Young Jr. Social Work Reinvestment Act (H.R. 795/S. 686) inserted into the health reform legislation President Barack Obama signed in March, Clark said the association continues to press for passage of the act because it would provide for a federal commission to examine the social work workforce and make recommendations to Congress and the president concerning such things as compensation, social work safety and licensure.

To date, the House version, H.R. 795, has 84 co-sponsors and the Senate version, S. 686, has 13.

After wrapping up her state-of-the-association presentation, Clark introduced keynote speaker Diana Aviv, president and CEO of Independent Sector, an organization that helps nonprofits improve and better serve their communities.

Aviv noted that nonprofits everywhere are suffering severe financial shortfalls that may not turn around. “Fundamental change within the nonprofit community is essential if we are to stay relevant and effective in the future,” she predicted.

To be credible, Aviv said, nonprofits need to demonstrate that their work has made a positive difference. “No longer is it enough to have a noble cause. It is essential to demonstrate results that are easy for others to understand.”

She listed five questions that organizations should be able to answer both for themselves and stakeholders:

  • What are we trying to accomplish?
  • What are our strategies for getting there?
  • What are our organization’s capabilities for doing this?
  • How will we know if we’re making progress?
  • What have and haven’t we accomplished so far?

“Doing so will provide organizations with a valuable ‘feedback loop’ to bolster mission impact and help lawmakers, stakeholders, media and others better understand the contributions such organizations offer in solving the mega-problems before us,“ Aviv said.

Following Aviv, NASW Web Designer Ebony Jackson presented “The Impact of Social Media on Associations,” delving into the world of Facebook, Twitter and blogs.

“The major challenge that social media poses to associations is that individuals, including an association’s own members, on their own and at little cost can network, foster a sense of community and share professional development opportunities — services that traditionally had been the domain of associations,” Jackson told NASW News.

Jackson encouraged those who aren’t using social media to give it serious thought. It presents an opportunity to connect with the best ideas of an organization’s members, she said, adding: “Social media can be very cost-effective, leveraging resources already available.”

In conclusion, Jackson gave chapter executives a to-do list, which included tracking NASW “buzz” online via Google Alerts.