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2013 Men of the Year Honoree: Dan Prater

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When Dan Prater identified a need for nonprofits to better explain their purpose, he founded a resource to help them do just that.

“In my work with nonprofit organizations, I recognized how most of them have limited resources and do not do a good job of communicating their mission and stories to the public,” he says. “As a result, the organizations often fail to connect with potential donors, volunteers and the very men and women who need their services.”

So Prater met with area leaders and started Drury University’s Center for Nonprofit Communication, now beginning its third year. The center trains undergraduate and graduate students and nonprofit professionals on marketing, social media, social enterprise and leadership. The center’s success prompted Drury to add a master of arts in communication degree with an emphasis on nonprofit work.

“In the past year, we have helped more than 150 different organizations to better communicate and succeed in accomplishing their mission,” says Prater, the center’s director. “We are especially interested in assisting organizations that address community red-flag issues.”

Prater has organized and led two in-depth studies on the high rate of child abuse and neglect in southwest Missouri. He organized a research team from Court Appointed Special Advocates, Missouri State University, Drury and Burrell Behavioral Health to examine the parenting practices of more than 1,600 people in the Ozarks. In 2008, Prater led another local study in which interviews with hundreds of patients revealed a correlation between childhood trauma and current health issues. Both studies garnered national attention.

Prater organized the first Springfield Kids Fest in 2011, an event that highlighted local nonprofits and was attended by almost 2,500 children and families.

He also has offered training and assistance to rural communities, donating time to help smaller towns bring together community members to develop strategies to address local challenges.

“In all of my endeavors, I take a greater good approach, focusing on what is best for the community as a whole,” Prater says. “Sometimes this means sacrificing my own time or personal agenda or allowing other people and institutions to get the credit. But in the end, when good is done, everyone wins.”

Believing it’s never too late to achieve and that hope is power, Prater focuses on people’s strengths and offers opportunities whenever he can, saying he believes collaboration is more important than any one organization.

“I am a connector in the sense that I often disregard institutional boundaries and try to lock arms with other leaders and organizations, even though they might be viewed as a ‘competitor’ in the industry. I believe the work is too big for any one group and we’re stronger if we work together rather than against each other.”

Prater volunteers for CASA, the Springfield Pregnancy Care Center, the Champion Center and United Way of the Ozarks.

“As I give my time and resources to these groups, I consider myself to be the biggest recipient,” Prater says. “All of these organizations have given me wonderful opportunities to touch lives and connect with hundreds of men and women. Meeting them and learning about their situations makes my life rich.”[[In-content Ad]]

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