BAR HARBOR—In 2005, Lisa Horsch Clark took a job at Friends of Acadia as the organization’s development director. She made a point to reach out to other development staff on Mount Desert Island and from those informal meetings an idea was born.
Even though Clark was a seasoned development professional, she knew there was more to learn. And she knew that others in the community had information to share. After a series of discussions with others in the field, she called the first meeting of what would become the Mount Desert Island Nonprofit Alliance (MDINA) in February of 2006. “I emailed an invite to gather in February in the basement of the Swan Building and thought we would sit around the board table and talk about issues relevant to nonprofits,” said Clark. She wasn’t sure if anyone would come but, to her surprise, it was standing room only. “To me, that said: there’s really a need for this.”
The larger-than-expected group began to meet monthly and the 19 nonprofits represented at that first meeting continued to grow. Clark calls the group “a loose federation of nonprofit employees and volunteers,” and while they organize under the auspices of MDINA, no dues are collected and there is not a board of directors. Membership currently stands at approximately 100 people representing about 50 organizations, said Clark. Not all members come to monthly meetings, but they all have the potential to benefit from the exchange of ideas and information that is regularly shared by the group’s members.
“Being part of the MDI Nonprofit Alliance is a great strength for our organization,” said Jody Wolford-Tucker, executive director of Hospice Volunteers of Hancock County. “While serving the entire county, our presence on the island is strong both in terms of active volunteers, services and partnerships, so to be able to learn from and share resources with other island service providers is a huge gift.”
Over the years, MDINA has held skill-building and informational workshops, has produced an economic impact study and is currently looking at ways to reduce healthcare costs for nonprofits. This past year it also created a space for residents to donate directly to area nonprofits through a program called Share our Stimulus MDI. The program, created by Gary Friedmann and Associates, sought to encourage people to share their first round of government stimulus funding with neighboring organizations in need. With the second round of stimulus funding underway, Clark said she expected that effort would be relaunched due to continued need.
The MDINA meets on the first Friday of every month at noon and new members are always welcome, said Clark. For more information or to attend the group’s next meeting, email [email protected]