This post was originally published here (Features – Philanthropy Journal News)
By Sandy Cyr
The push for cross-sector collaboration is everywhere lately. While this may seem like a recent trend in the nonprofit sector, working collaboratively and benefiting from shared learning has led to the success of the Nonprofit Communications and Media Network (NCM Network) for more than 60 years.
Founded in 1955, NCM Network’s main purpose is to help nonprofits connect and work more effectively with the media in the Southern California community to improve communications and cause awareness for greater impact. The organization offers regular opportunities for nonprofits, the media and other communication professionals to network and connect.
Monthly programs and joint events with other Southern California nonprofit and communications organizations provide NCM Network members and participants access and the tools and contacts to succeed. “We have seen such a great enthusiasm from nonprofit communicators committed to ongoing learning opportunities at our monthly programs, which run the gamut of so many different topics,” says Communications/PR Consultant Andy Weisser. “It is always such a great forum for questions and sharing insights about best practices, as well as significant challenges facing a variety of nonprofits.”
Weisser, along with Ruth House, Public Affairs Supervisor for ABC7, serves as the co-president of NCM Network’s volunteer Board of Directors. In 2015, the organization went from having one Board president to having co-presidents to emphasize the importance of news media and nonprofit organizations working together. Board meetings are held monthly by conference call, and once a quarter, they meet in person for three hours to take a deeper dive.
“It is such a significant level of commitment and passion and enthusiasm that all of us bring to the table,” says Weisser. “We start out our board meetings with successes, challenges, and new ideas, and constantly look through the lens of how we can improve our services and experiences for our members to make every month rewarding and fulfilling so they can leave and try something new when they get back to the office.”
NCM Network is constantly looking for ways to expand and improve their programs. Being flexible and listening to their members allows the board to deliver information that is relevant to the members. The monthly evaluation process is taken very seriously. The board reviews all feedback each month and then once a year, the board reflects back on those evaluations when planning the content for the upcoming year. NCM Network uses the evaluations to constantly fine tune what’s working, what isn’t working, where they fell short, and where can they deliver more value for their members and for potential members.
While there are many opportunities for professional development, NCM Network is unique in that it focuses on serving as the bridge between nonprofit organizations and news media. The organization is committed to providing a blend of nonprofit and media perspectives at each of their programs. According to Andy, “It is always a terrific blend of information and our evaluations at all of our programs always reflect positively on the content, the process, the materials and the connections. I think we have a really interesting mix of ideas and perspectives and so our programs are always coming from that combined mindset.”
Having a variety of perspectives constantly at their programs and board meetings provides a space for multi-directional learning to take place, as well as offering a constant reality check. News media professionals and nonprofit communicators have energizing interactions at the monthly programs, which offer the opportunity for people to learn from each other about challenges on both sides of the equation. Participants are encouraged to bring their expertise to the table, share insights, and learn from each other’s most significant challenges and successes. Too often, communication professionals do not have access to a ready network of peers to interact with in person to share information. NCM Network offers a space for nonprofit and news media peers to come together and connect in ways that are not happening elsewhere. The result is not only a reduction in isolation, but also a stronger, more connected community.
Nonprofit communicators and news media see value in helping each other with their mutual needs to engage people with meaningful initiatives and share information. The Nonprofit Communications and Media Network is committed to providing a space for nonprofit communicators and news media to continue working together to learn from each other and build educational partnerships.
Andy Weisser, Communications/PR Consultant, and Ruth House, Public Affairs Supervisor for ABC7, serve as the co-presidents of NCM Network’s volunteer Board of Directors. NCM Network serves the Southern California community and educates nonprofit professionals, connects with media, and creates communications and cause awareness that make an impact.