BRC claimed the Bronze, America Needs You was awarded the Silver and NY Common Pantry walked away with the Gold prize for excellence in management at the 2015 New York Community Trust Nonprofit Excellence Awards presented yesterday at the CUNY Graduate Center's Proshansky Auditorium.
BRC helps people reclaim lives lost by restoring hope and dignity and offering opportunities for health and self-sufficiency. America Needs You fights for economic mobility for ambitious, first-generation college students by providing transformative mentorship and intensive career development and New York Common Pantry is dedicated to reducing hunger throughout New York City while promoting dignity and self-sufficiency. The awards, sponsored by The New York Community Trust and created by NPCC in 2007, recognize outstanding management practices in eight key performance areas as identified by thousands of nonprofit leaders across the country. They include a total of $60,000 in prizes as well as tuition scholarships for the Columbia Business School Executive Education Programs in Social Enterprise.
“I keep on telling my family I’m not an actress so I’ll never win an Oscar but this is the closest that I’ll get,” Kimberly A. Harris, CEO of America Needs You said.
Sharon Stapel, President of NPCC for “4.5 weeks” by her own calculations, welcomed attendees to the nine-year-old awards program and shared her thoughts on the performance measures used to select the winners. “I certainly think that now that nonprofits are under heightened scrutiny, they are a roadmap as well for people in a very significant way. They’re both an aspirational tool and a guiding tool.”
The self-described “intensive” application process includes two stages of written applications and an in-person presentation. Each of the winners had applied more than once before the selection committee, consisting of nonprofit management experts who come from a wide variety of organizations, selected these winners from among ten semifinalists and six finalists.
Stephen Grimaldi, Executive Director of New York Common Pantry, cracked a big smile as he shared that to him, this is the most prestigious award his organization could receive. “They look at eight category areas. They look at the whole organization. They’ve got experts in the field. You can’t trick anybody.”
Harris plans to make the most of the prestige the awards brings with a post-award follow-up strategy that could also serve as an example for best practices.
“As soon as we received the press release we put it on social media, we reached out to our entire network and then we sent one-on-one emails to all of our foundations, our high net worth individuals, obviously our fellows, our mentor coaches, the leadership within the organization, we also shared information for each of our Board members to share with their networks,” Harris said.
The packed house sat quietly in the carpeted room then immediately began to buzz as attendees maximized every moment to network and conversations extended well beyond an allotted 5 minute break. People came to learn from the best managed nonprofits in the city - and as measured by NPCC’s eight standards of excellence, the best were in the room.
“Just because you’re a nonprofit doesn’t mean you’re entitled, you need to be excellent,” BRC’s Executive Director Muzzy Rosenblatt said. He didn’t mince words about his belief that there should be more of a demand for high quality service in the sector. “So to have this process that focuses on excellence I think moves us in the right direction to say, ‘So why can’t everyone in the sector be excellent?’ And if somebody isn’t excellent, those of us in the sector, not just those who fund us, should say, ‘You’re an embarrassment, step up or step out because the work is too important, the sector is too important the reputation is too important to allow those who can’t perform, who aren’t excellent or even adequate, to tarnish the work of so many other good organizations.’ We have to demand excellence.”