Submitted by Nora Tabler, 501 Commons volunteer writer, published 9/20/2021
Vanessa Villalobos, a long-time volunteer and supporter of the performing arts, was thrilled to be selected to work with Khambatta Dance Company on their second year of facilitating the James Ray Residency Project, a program that sustains artists’ ability to present artistic work and remove obstacles.
Khambatta needed help with fundraising, financial management, marketing, and organizational management to further their growth and sustainability. Vanessa was assigned to work with two artistic leaders who were considering whether to become a 501(c)3 during a transitional year where the collective would be parting ways physically to embrace a new bi-coastal work model. The consultation process began by asking both participants to prioritize their top challenges from a “bucket” list that included:
- Fundraising plans and financial management (donor plan, sponsorships, grants, planned giving, and fundraising events).
- Organizational structure (determining the tax implications and pros/cons of becoming a nonprofit versus remaining operating as sole proprietors).
- Determining if a communication plan is needed.
- Answering questions such as whether the budget is balanced and if there is capacity for growth or artistic experimentation.
Over a four-month period, Vanessa worked with her small group on their priorities and met as a larger group with the others in the larger cohort of eight to expand group learning.
“The value of 501 Commons to volunteers who are thinking about getting involved is that their work and time is truly a gift to each organization, typically because it has an immediate effect on an organization’s survival and growth,” she says. “That 501 Commons values the growth experience of its volunteers by continually offering professional training to them that relates to different areas of the nonprofit world, as well as networking opportunities.”
Vanessa’s volunteer work with Khambatta, coupled with other engagements, opened the door for her to be invited to serve on the Executive Service Corps Leadership Council, an advisory body that works to increase the value of Executive Service Corps membership and enhance the quality of the service that volunteers provide to 501 Commons and nonprofit clients.
She notes that there is a need for volunteers from the Millennial and Gen X generations who have skills related to web design, social media, modern volunteer recruitment, and expanded technology infrastructure support.
“It’s amazing how 501 Commons can bring the same level of “outside the box” analysis on itself during this pandemic time to learn about new engagement strategies to reach more volunteers, donors, and nonprofit clients while continuing to do such essential work for our community,” she observes.