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NPLI’s Top Five Reasons to Celebrate

By Annette Look, program manager, Nonprofit Leadership Initiative (NPLI)

June in Wisconsin is filled with celebrations – graduation parties, wedding receptions, and the official start of summer. The Nonprofit Leadership Initiative (NPLI) has reason to celebrate too – June 30, marks the official end of our third fiscal year of operation.

Building for Kids leaders meet with community members at Join a Board event.

Top 5 reasons we are celebrating:

#1 An Attitude of Gratitude

We are grateful to the visionaries, Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region, United Way Fox Cities, Thrivent and Community First Credit Union who created NPLI with the intent of building nonprofit excellence in our region.

NPLI quickly discovered Fox Valley nonprofits were already striving for excellence, but they needed additional resources to attain excellence. NPLI’s programs provided opportunities for leadership development and learning so nonprofits could work toward excellence and better achieve their missions. Over the last year over 400 nonprofit leaders and board members have taken advantage of one of NPLI’s programs.

#2 A Record Breaking Year

The Leadership Institute, a year-long cohort learning program developed in collaboration with Fox Valley Technical College graduated its third class of nonprofit leaders. To date, 39 nonprofit leaders have graduated from the program and earned their Nonprofit Management Certificate from FVTC and NPLI.

  • Over 200 nonprofit leaders and board members attended Leadership Forums this fiscal year to learn about Long-Term Financial Stability, Holistic Leadership, Board Roles & Responsibilities, Collaboration/Consolidation and Human Resources.
  • 436 nonprofit staff, volunteers and board members are utilizing Nonprofit Next, a free online resource of curated articles and templates. Nonprofit Next is the first stop for many nonprofits, including NPLI, as they look for answers to questions unique to nonprofits.
  • 30 board chair and vice chairs attended roundtable discussions on board member roles and responsibilities, board recruitment and board self-assessments.
  • Over 200 community members attended Join A Board events to learn about nonprofits and find out how they could serve in a volunteer leadership role.

#3 Strategic Planning and Goal Setting

As a new organization, we had some initial goals, but as we began year three, we knew it was time to hold facilitated strategic planning sessions to formulate future goals.

Kim O’Brien, Executive Director at one of her coffee meetings, meeting with Leadership Fox Cities alumni, Scott Jensen.

Our 2019-20 goals include:

  • Rolling out a new board effectiveness training program,
  • strengthening our program impact measures, and
  • developing our sustainability model.

#4 Collaborations – Kim O’Brien, NPLI Executive Director, averages four coffee meetings a week – that’s over 200 meetings annually to build relationships and find collaborative opportunities!

Many of this year’s coffee meetings focused on technology needs of Fox Valley nonprofits. This led to forming collaborative partnerships with Microsoft, IT Forward and Network for Good.

#5 Participant Feedback – NPLI’s participant focus groups and online surveys have shown us where we need to improve and highlighted what we are doing well. A theme that came out loud and clear – nonprofits appreciate the opportunity to take advantage of the affordable resources NPLI offers to learn and grow. Here are a few of their comments:

I really loved this session. It had a lot of great information that I walked away with and found the presenters really engaging and enthusiastic!”

“There were so many really good takeaways! Great advice for leadership and life.”


The Nonprofit Leadership Initiative is a partnership of Fox Valley-area nonprofits, funders, educational institutions and businesses dedicated to providing resources needed by effective nonprofit boards and executive leaders. NPLI offers a wide range of leadership, management and technical skill-building programs, as well as peer learning circles, to the entire nonprofit sector in the Fox Valley.

We support  NPLI with a grant from the Bright Idea Fund within the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region, one among many community partners supporting NPLI. Click here to learn more.

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