Delaware nonprofits find new resources among each other at DANA conference

Creating the Future team
Michael Kumer, Hildy Gottlieb, Paul Stock (Executive Vice President of DANA Excellence Academy), Justin Pollock, Susan Detwiler, (front) Sheila Bravo (President and CEO of DANA)

The catalyst to transform Delaware’s nonprofit organizations may come from a fundamental shift in the questions asked by their leadership, according to speakers at the Delaware Alliance for Nonprofit Advancement’s (DANA) Annual Conference last week.

More than 275 members of the state’s nonprofit community attended the conference at the Chase Center on the Riverfront.

Keynote speaker Hildy Gottlieb shared an innovative method of reshaping questions in order to bring out the best in people and situations as part of the event’s theme of “catalytic leadership.”

Gottlieb, a social scientist and co-founder of Create the Future, encouraged nonprofit leadership to avoid asking mission-critical questions out of reaction to scarcity or hardship. Rather, they should shift their perspective to one of abundance and opportunity. By identifying the variety of assets among nonprofits – such as technology, vehicles or volunteers – these organizations can partner to share resources and better meet the needs of the people they serve.

The conference theme grew out of a desire for more cooperation among Delaware stakeholders. “We wanted people in the nonprofit sector to have the opportunity to work together on creating the future as we see it with positive outcomes for all Delawareans,” said Sheila Bravo, president and CEO of DANA. “This conference was the first step in learning how to leverage our collective knowledge and resources for the greatest impact on our shared goals and vision for the future.”

Following Gottlieb’s presentation, attendees participated in six breakout sessions covering topics from storytelling to fostering strong relationships between board chairs and executive leaders. Post-conference, nonprofit leaders gathered to share key lessons, and decide upon actionable items moving forward from the day.

“I believe that one of the best things to come out of DANA is making sure that Delaware nonprofits not only run their agencies effectively, but can also think beyond their agencies to form successful partnerships,” said Gov. Jack Markell, who spoke in the morning at the conference. “This collaboration among the nonprofit community helps to ensure that our citizens have a better future.”

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