Before we get to the good stuff and discuss the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network (MNN) Annual Conference, I'd like to introduce you to this blog! And me!
I am Diana Caissie, one of the two Assistant Directors for Hitchcock. I am in charge of marketing/social media for Hitchcock. My goal is to let everyone in the Hitchcock community know about any and all programs that might benefit them personally. Speaking of personally (not a good segue), I grew up and currently live in Brimfield along with my amazing husband, two sisters and mother and too many chickens. I am famously bad at telling stories, but enjoy telling them anyway.
The goal of this blog is to let you gain an insight into the week that was at Hitchcock through my eyes. It may be different from the way you experience Hitchcock, and that's good-I think that differences make life worth living! An additional goal is to have a more relaxed discourse than I currently have through my weekly emails. I like professionalism, but I also like the warmth and friendliness which Hitchcock's staff and community thrives on and professionalism often lacks.
On Wednesday, November 1st, the Executive Director Sue Gregory and I traveled to the Sheraton in Framingham to attend MNN's 2017 Annual Conference. It was MNN's 10th year and my first.
Upon entering the hotel, I had a lovely continental breakfast along with delightful coffee. Incidental to this story, but as I said, I'm quite bad at knowing what to include in stories. Sue and I chatted with other attendees and then visited exhibitor booths which were set up by companies with services important to the nonprofit sector. They almost all had candy and all of them had cute freebies, such as notebooks, pocket calculators, even Bluetooth speakers! Neato!
What I took away from this conference (apart from all the neat swag) was that this is a troubling yet hopeful time for nonprofits. Daniel Cardinali, President and CEO of Independent Sector, spoke of threats to the Johnson Amendment (which prohibits 501(c)(3) nonprofits from endorsing or opposing political candidates.) which, if removed, could allow political donations to be filtered through a tax-exempt non-profit organization. On a more hopeful note, Massachusetts State Treasurer and Receiver-General Deb Goldberg spoke of her efforts for a broader version of the CORE Plan, a retirement savings plan for small non-profits.
The rest of the day featured workshops and lunch. I attended workshops about communication errors that nonprofits commonly make; one on fundraising (a topic I actually enjoy and don't feel too awkward about. Or maybe I just feel awkward all of the time so it doesn't feel weird to ask people for money...) and one on creating "brand ambassadors" out of your staff and volunteers. So many of the presenters and attendees had so much more experience than me, not just in years, but in knowledge. And so many of them work with such vital and important areas of the nonprofit sector, like homelessness and healthcare.
One of the two Lifetime Achievement Award recipients, Michael Weekes, spoke of having courage to do the right thing in the face of immense and overwhelming threats. I felt this advice could apply to not only the field I work in, but in my everyday life as a member of my community and as a human being. In the eyes and hearts of all of the people I saw at the MNN Conference, I saw and felt the same giving and kind spirit that I want to manifest in every aspect of my life.
One great way to record and keep up this pattern of courageous change is for me to share my thoughts and developments through this blog. I hope that you will join me in this blogging adventure!