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Nonprofit Outlook: Janet Dankert

Community Partnership of the Ozarks Inc. President & CEO

Posted online

Janet Dankert started as a development specialist at CPO 17 years ago, and now leads the nonprofit. She’s started programs, secured grants and developed partnerships that support all kinds of community services.

2020 Projection: Nonprofits will be challenged to bring in new donors for operational costs, so look for a mix of planned events, social media efforts and one-to-one interactions. Also, social workers will be in demand.

SBJ: What are some nonprofit services that are most in demand and what drives them?
Dankert: Social workers and case management services. Crisis, short-term assistance is very important for helping families meet basic needs, and I’m a huge proponent of social workers in the schools, which help reduce school mobility as well as homelessness. We’ve also learned that families who are struggling can use more long-term support through case management that helps people meet their goals and move toward self-sufficiency.

SBJ: Is it difficult to find and retain the right kind of talent to hire given the variety of nonprofit services offered?
Dankert: It can be difficult, especially when many nonprofits can’t afford the same pay scale as the private sector. However, I believe that organizational culture and opportunities for leadership for all staff play a big role in talent recruitment and retention. I also think it’s extremely important for employers to recognize the importance of investing in equity, diversity and inclusion at all levels, including staff, board and volunteers. At (Community Partnership of the Ozarks), we have built a tremendous team of talented staff and have very low turnover.

SBJ: What’s your assessment of fundraising strategies?
Dankert: Most nonprofits have realized the need to be creative when fundraising because there are so many new ways to give and donors’ preferences have changed over time. Some donors don’t want to just give, they want to be involved with the cause they are giving to and really feel like they are making a difference. Being strategic has never been more important and that means offering many ways for donors to support a cause, including online donations, planned giving, social media, events, face-to-face asks, mail solicitations and volunteer opportunities. We recently revamped our second signature fundraiser by introducing a holiday event with a local celebrity lip sync competition, and it was a huge success. We exceeded our fundraising goal and everyone who attended raved about how much fun they had. But we had to step outside of our comfort zone and be willing to try something completely new.

SBJ: What are the greatest concerns for nonprofits?
Dankert: Needs continue to grow but so does our community’s response. Prosper Springfield is a prime example. As a community response to the Impacting Poverty Commission’s call to action, Prosper Springfield was created and has had major impact in aligning key leaders to build systems that address inequalities that impact access and inclusion to programs that increase education beyond high school. In 2020 and beyond, Prosper Springfield will work closer with leaders and subgroups that have barriers to accessing programs as the community strives for 60% postsecondary attainment rate and a 5 (percentage-point) reduction in poverty by 2025.

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