MORRIS – Nonprofit executives from throughout Illinois went back to school in October to participate in a two-day training held in Morris.
Caroline Portlock of the Grundy County Chamber of Commerce and Sally Rutledge-Ott of Women With Power started the Not for Profit Academy to provide certification and training to workers in the nonprofit sector.
“The Not For Profit Academy was put together to arm our executives with the correct
knowledge, training and information to run their organization,” Rutledge-Ott said. “I couldn’t imagine running a not-for-profit not knowing what I was doing.”
The training was Oct. 18 and 19 at the Holiday Inn in Morris. Class requirements included accounting and finance, special event planning, human resource management, leadership development, board development and legal policies and procedures.
“Caroline and I started talking about this class in January,” Rutledge-Ott said. “We were very thorough in choosing the correct teachers who were credentialed to teach in their subject.”
The first graduating class of the NFP Academy included eight executives from Galena, Morris, Effingham and Sugar Grove. They came from churches, chambers of commerce and children’s organizations.
“Everyone in the class passed. We were so pleased,” Rutledge-Ott said.
Karen Nall, executive director of Grundy County United Way for the past three years, said she is thankful she took the class.
“It opened my eyes to a lot of different things, and we had some wonderful instructors,” Nall said. “I certainly always want to continue learning.”
The Rev. Ben Ingelson of Resurrection Lutheran Church in Channahon said he decided to take the class because his church was rewriting its constitution and bylaws and he wanted to learn more about nonprofit management.
“My undergrad degree was in business management,” Ingelson said. “I know the general stuff, but nothing specific to nonprofit management.”
Nall also said she had never taken a course so catered to nonprofit workers.
“This is the only class of its kind that I’ve seen offered outside of a university in the Midwest,” Rutledge-Ott said.
While no special certification or classes are required to become a nonprofit executive, Rutledge-Ott thinks there should be.
“These boards of directors hire nonskilled, nontrained executives and can’t figure out why they’re having trouble,” Rutledge-Ott said. “It’s not fair to the executives or the organizations.”
October was the first class the NFP Academy offered, but there already is a waiting list for another in the spring. Originally, Rutledge-Ott said the NFP Academy was going to hold one class a year, but will be doing more because of popular demand.
“We are always striving to learn more ways to help the community,” Nall said. “This shows the community that we are serious.”
Graduates of 2013 Credentialed NFP Academy
Karen Nall – Grundy County United Way
Chris Wittkamp – Accountant
Kelly Thompson – Special Connections of Grundy County
Renee Dee – P.E.A.K. For Kids
Katie Murphy – Galena Area Chamber of Commerce
Becky Brown – Effingham County Chamber of Commerce
Pastor Ben Ingelson – Resurrection Lutheran Church