The Ally: December 2020 – Derek D. Alley

Derek D. Alley, CFRE
Co-founder & President
Arthur | Alley

MISSISSIPPI ASSOCIATION OF FUNDRAISING PROFESSIONALS

Derek Alley named an inaugural member of the Mississippi Association of Fundraising Professionals Hall of Fame

At their November meeting, The Mississippi Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) awarded local resident Derek Alley, CFRE (Certified Fundraising Executive) with the inaugural membership into their newly established Hall of Fame in recognition of his service and contributions to both the Chapter’s work and the fundraising industry overall.

Announced in conjunction with the celebration and observance of National Philanthropy Day, the Chapter plans to admit additional members in the future as merited.

Alley, Co-Founder and President of Jackson-based consulting firm Arthur Alley Associated has been a member of the AFP since 1994.  He has been dedicated to advancing the profession through frequent presentations and volunteer service, including at the international level.

AFP Chapter President Amanda Fontaine stated, “Our board thought it would be a great idea to create a Chapter Hall of Fame to honor our members.  We all agreed the first member is a no-brainer; it has to be Derek…he’s done everything!  He’s been on the board for years, been President, served the national AFP, is a great fundraiser and a wonderful consultant.”

Fontaine shared, “Derek puts his heart into it.  When I think of a fundraiser who truly loves what he does, I think of Derek.  He has a big heart, wants to help everyone, and has a great record of success.”

Alley said that he was surprised and pleased by this unexpected recognition by his professional peers.  “It is an honor to be the inaugural member of the AFP Mississippi Chapter Hall of Fame.  AFP is an amazing organization and a great way to share knowledge with others.”

The Ally: December 2020 – Linda Southward

Linda Southward
Executive Director
Children’s Foundation of Mississippi

CHILDREN'S FOUNDATION OF MISSISSIPPI

More than two decades ago, Tom Wacaster (long-time director of the Phil Hardin Foundation) invited me to visit the Jonestown Learning Center in Coahoma County, Mississippi.  I can still sense Tom’s sense of anticipatory joy as we rounded the last field of soybeans before the farm to market road turned into Jonestown.  To the passerby, it may have seemed like any other small town in the Mississippi Delta that had seen better days. The spattering of shuttered storefronts indicated that the past might have been brighter than the present. Somehow, I knew from Tom’s perspective that we were about to experience something unique.

It was there that I met Sister Teresa Shields and others who were operating a Montessori school in one of the most disadvantaged counties in Mississippi.  At first, I could not figure out exactly what made this place and these people special, but as I continued to listen and learn, it became clear.  The mutual respect and commitment to the greater good on behalf of children in this community motivated their collective work. Each leader (one of a nonprofit and one of a philanthropic entity) demonstrated gratitude for each other’s work and respect for their roles.  This regard, commitment, and appreciation between Tom and Sister Teresa yielded a contagious joy for the work.  Through the years, there have been numerous times that I had the opportunity to share the story of Jonestown and the philanthropic investments there.  You may be asking why this story?

For me, this story of more than 25 years ago symbolizes what the Alliance has come to mean to Mississippi in a very short period of time—bringing together nonprofits and philanthropy in a meaningful, respectful way for a greater good, sans any ‘power’ that may have historically been associated with funding disparities.

Prior to and since the launch of the Children’s Foundation of Mississippi in August 2019, I have had the opportunity to learn firsthand about the Alliance of Nonprofits and Philanthropy’s phenomenal work.  The entire team is engaging and exists to improve the quality of nonprofits and philanthropy in Mississippi, thereby improving Mississippi’s quality of life.  The Alliance has the ‘greater good’ as its north star, and I am grateful to be one of their strategic partners.

The Ally: December 2020 – Caitlin Brooking

Caitlin Brooking
Deputy Director
Volunteer Mississippi

VOLUNTEER MISSISSIPPI

As anyone experienced with emergency management knows, drills and exercises provide vital planning and practice with the intent to prepare organizations and networks for disasters. You workshop roles, responsibilities, and chains of command; you draft procedures; you document plans to ensure continuity of operations and efficiency of response. 2020 was the kind of year that put all our carefully laid plans to the test, all at once.

A global pandemic, interlaced with multiple natural disasters, on top of the already staggering amount of work completed by mission-driven organizations across Mississippi every day, truly tested the boundaries of our capacity. No single organization alone could rise to meet the level of community problem solving necessary to face this kind of year. We also tend to respond to emergencies in groups – Mississippians gather together to volunteer, to provide food and shelter to those in need, and the nature of this pandemic severely compromised our ability to wield our strongest superpower – community.

Luckily, we at Volunteer Mississippi have been extremely fortunate to have spent the last few years building a robust and statewide partnership with the Alliance to bring nonprofits, grantmakers, and volunteers together to meet challenges facing our Mississippi communities. Priya Parker, an expert in gathering intentionally, and conflict resolution, recently reflected on two initial questions when faced with great adversity: “What do I know how to do, and where is the need?”

Throughout this year, Volunteer Mississippi and The Mississippi Alliance were able to sit down together to let these questions guide our work.  We gathered information from the field and provided it to national leaders to illustrate Mississippi’s situation. That data helped inform decision-making to develop and refine procedures to move resources where they were most needed. In turn, we were able to support volunteers and organizations on the frontlines to meet the growing need.

Our network of eight regional Hubs for Volunteers and Nonprofits were the boots on the ground, supporting and convening community organizations and volunteers, and providing vital insight and guidance to VM and The Alliance. Communication tends to be the biggest obstacle to overcome in times of disaster. Our partnership provided the crucial open communication lines we needed to understand nuances and tackle each micro-crisis as it evolved.

As the dust from 2020 begins to settle and the path forward begins to materialize, Volunteer Mississippi has found itself rooted within a robust safety net of partnerships around the state, anchored by our friends at the Alliance. We enter the holidays so thankful to know we are surrounded by thoughtful and passionate people who care so deeply about Mississippi.

The Ally: December 2020 – Jim Long

Jim Long
Director
F.A.I.T.H. Food Pantry

F.A.I.T.H. FOOD PANTRY

Many of us think of poverty as a “city problem.” We see movies with people in rags living in boxes in alleys, huddled against the cold. We think of beggars and panhandlers. We think of people far away.

The truth is far crueler. Poverty is with us in Northeast Mississippi. And with the COVID pandemic, the poverty rate is on the rise. People below the poverty line often do not know that they can get help. These are people who have no food in the house by the end of the month, not even a can of beans.

F.A.I.T.H. Food Pantry is working to change all this. The Food Pantry was running smoothly before the pandemic. We were averaging 100 to 140 volunteers each third Saturday, distributing an average of 65,000 pounds of food to 800 families for an average of 80 pounds of food per family. The pandemic arrived, and everything changed.

Many of the older volunteers who helped with food distribution didn’t feel comfortable returning. Many had health problems or had spouses with health problems. We thought the pandemic would be a short-lived thing at the time, so we decided to close the food pantry for a month or so, then resume normal operations.

Once the COVID virus took hold, many of our clients lost their jobs, and our work at the Pantry became more critical than ever. We had to find a way to open up quickly. Jason Martin of the Hunger Coalition stepped up to help us streamline our systems.

Like many organizations, we had to pivot rapidly. Our team devised a drive through allocation program that worked well. Anyone that was eligible received food. We bought tablets to be used in the parking to qualify families as they drove up, cutting down on paperwork to get our community fed.

Although we have had fewer volunteers and a much greater workload, we have been fortunate to be able to keep providing food for many during this challenging year. We’re grateful to Kay Patterson, Rebecca Nelson, Jason Martin, and all of our volunteers for keeping us going.

The Ally: December 2020 – Rebecca Nelson

Rebecca Nelson
Director
Volunteer Northeast Mississippi

HUB SPOTLIGHT: NORTHEAST MISSISSIPPI

Born and bred in Tupelo, I have always been a Mississippi girl, even when I moved to Georgia at the age of 24. When my husband Andrew (also from Tupelo) and I moved back to “The Sip” in 2014, we were thrilled to be back home. Returning to our roots was only part of the equation. We wanted our daughter Lindsey to experience what we had growing up in the hill country: the opportunity to be surrounded by the most down-home, honest-to-goodness, best folks you will ever find.

For the past two years, I have been fortunate to see that same caring spirit magnified in the nonprofit world. As director of Volunteer Northeast Mississippi, I see first hand the work carried out day after day by people who want to make life better for others. Throughout the 13 counties that constitute the northeast hub, our nonprofits’ employees and volunteers provide food, healthcare, housing, education, rehabilitation, basic necessities, emotional support, guidance, and hope to thousands of neighbors in need.

Nothing stops these remarkable individuals from giving of their time, energy, and talents. Nothing. Not even a pandemic. Since March, every single agency I work with has been obliged to change how it delivers services. But none of them have quit. Not one. Anyone outside this great state may be surprised at our nonprofits’ tenacity and dedication, but those of us lucky enough to be on the inside know what makes this place special. Helping each other is what we do. It’s just that simple.

It’s the most down-home, honest-to-goodness, best way of life I could ever imagine. And for that, I am thankful.

The Ally: October 2020 – Cyndy Baggett

Cyndy Baggett
VP of Development & Marketing
Feeding the Gulf Coast

FEEDING THE GULF COAST: FIGHTING FOOD INSECURITY

My husband was the breadwinner, and he passed away last July. He had a heart attack. He wasn’t even 50. It has been rough working through the grief, and I am not making enough money to pay bills and buy food. That is why I have been waiting in line for hours for food from Feeding the Gulf Coast. I have three kids aged seven, nine, and thirteen. I am from Oregon and don’t have family here or much support. I am not on welfare or food stamps. I probably should be, but I have never had to do that before. A friend is letting us rent a room, or we would be homeless. I am between jobs, but I have been doing odd jobs and yard work in the neighborhood. It is time to figure out where we go from here. I want to get back on my feet and own my own home.”

At Feeding the Gulf Coast, we hear heartbreaking stories like this every day from right here within our community, where one in five individuals, including one in three children, is food insecure. Hunger along the central Gulf Coast has exploded since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, resulting in an increase of more than 40% of individuals and families who are food insecure. This equates to nearly 480,000 individuals who will struggle to put food on their tables in 2020 and beyond. These are seniors living on fixed incomes, children without healthy food to eat outside of school, and working families struggling to make ends meet.

Feeding the Gulf Coast serves a 24-county area spanning south Mississippi, south Alabama, and Florida’s panhandle. Our service area is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of hunger and includes high-risk populations, including seniors, rural and underserved communities, and those with chronic health diseases.

In addition to the wave of people experiencing food insecurity for the first time and those already in need within our service area, this unprecedented crisis has compounded economic strain with a tremendous surge in families needing food assistance right now. In response to the need, the food bank has distributed over 19.2 million meals, a 43% increase in meals for this time of year.

To join our local fight against hunger and learn how to help solve hunger in our community, visit www.feedingthegulfcoast.org.

The Ally: October 2020 – Mike Ward

Mike Ward
Consultant
MS Alliance

COMMUNITY FOUNDATIONS COVID-19 GRANT PROGRAM

As part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act, the State of Mississippi has recently implemented The Community Foundations COVID-19 Grant Program.

Administered by the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA), the seven Mississippi community foundations that comprise the Alliance’s Community Foundation Network are tasked with providing a total of $8 million in grants to Mississippi’s nonprofits and food pantries.  Grants of up to $4,000.00 are available to reimburse eligible nonprofit entities and food pantries for pandemic-related expenses incurred from March 1, 2020, through December 30, 2020. Grants will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Each application will be reviewed by the community foundation serving the county where a nonprofit entity or food pantry’s primary office is located.

The Alliance’s Community Foundation Network has created an online application portal, www.mscaresgrant.com, through which all applications must be submitted.  Additional information about eligible grantees and eligible expenditures is available through this portal.  Applicants must create an account, complete an eligibility quiz and file requests for reimbursement by 5:00 p.m. on December 15, 2020.  In general, only one application per organization is allowed. Nonprofits operating multiple programs that include a food pantry or organizations operating multiple food pantries that serve different geographic areas and populations may be able to file more than one application.

For more information, see www.mscaresgrant.com, or contact the community foundation serving the county in which your organization is located.

The Ally: October 2020 – Rene’ Davis

Rene’ Davis
Communications
Journalistics & D’Zigns

WHAT'S IN A NAME

Since 1977, the Gulf Coast Women’s Center for Nonviolence has provided services to those impacted by domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, or homicide to all those affected. As its 40th anniversary approached, many people were still unaware of the full scope of its services–or that it offered those services to men and women.

The Center thus began a multifaceted rebranding campaign with an eye toward more explicitly portraying the inclusion and diversity which had always been part of its programming.  The first change was dropping “Women’s” from its name to become “Gulf Coast Center for Nonviolence.”

The Center’s brochures, social media accounts, informational cards, and display banners were all redesigned to feature updated, gender-neutral language and photos representing the full spectrum of gender, race, religion, age, orientation, and ability.  Its website is being reimagined and redeveloped to be helpful and inviting to anyone seeking services and will be unveiled soon.  In conjunction with ongoing cultural diversity training, in-house and community surveys provide a framework for constant evaluation and improvement in sensitively and effectively serving all populations.

Like all organizations, the Center has experienced novel challenges in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.  GCCFN has kept both of its domestic violence shelter locations open and has continued all its client services throughout the pandemic, incorporating virtual options where possible.

Historically, intimate partner violence is known to increase during times of economic hardship or emotional stress–such as after hurricanes or during the holiday season–so we can predict that the COVID crisis will increase incidents of domestic violence and sexual assault.  However, while victims are isolated at home with their abusers, it can be challenging to find a safe opportunity to escape or even reach out for help.  While national DV hotlines have experienced a 9% increase in calls compared to 2019, it may be quite some time before we can fully understand the total impact of the pandemic here on the Gulf Coast.

Over the coming months, as businesses reopen and families become less isolated, victims may find it easier to call for help–and the Center will be here to answer the call and offer support.

The Ally: October 2020 – Paul Guichet

Paul Guichet

Chief Operating Officer & Executive Director

Gulf Coast Community Foundation

DISASTERS PREPARATION, RESPONSE & RECOVERY

Hurricane season brings to mind the role of philanthropies and nonprofits in preparation, response, and recovery. As an emergency support function for the Harrison County Emergency Management Agency, the Long-Term Recovery Committee (“LTRC”) is responsible for providing organizational structure and guidance for volunteer and donation management for Harrison County. When any catastrophe strikes, the LRTC supports local jurisdiction policies and procedures in addressing a community’s needs and assessing the condition of impacted areas. While comprehensive in nature, the committee’s strategies are continuously revised as unforeseen potential issues arise.

The LTRC is a collaboration between the Gulf Coast Community Foundation (“GCCF”) and United Way of South Mississippi (“UWSM”). The committee, comprised of 9 local business and community leaders, functions by coordinating with Harrison County Emergency Management Agency (EMA). The team coordinates all volunteers, donations, and services coming into Harrison County to support the Emergency Operations Center and Field Operations.

Essential to the LRTC’s operation are communications in 3 phases: Preparedness Actions, Response Actions, and Recovery Actions. Each phase involves specific skills and knowledge and effective collaboration with supporting agencies at the local, county, state, and federal levels. The coordination of all these agencies is essential to provide seamless service delivery to those affected by the disaster.

The Gulf Coast Volunteer HUB, part of the Mississippi Hub Network, plays a vital role in the LRTC’s communications. The Gulf Coast Volunteer HUB’s “Get Connected” platform provides additional organizational, training, and technical capacity in coordinating volunteers and donations coming into Harrison County.

Our communities will be well-positioned through effective planning, resource management, and teamwork when the next catastrophic event occurs.

The Ally: September 2020 – Sammy Moon

Sammy Moon
CEO
The MS Alliance of Nonprofits and Philanthropy

Note from the Executive Director

There is no question that we are all being challenged in ways we could never have imagined. With political divisiveness, social unrest, economic challenges, education disruptions, the COVID-19 global pandemic, out-of-control fires in the West, and hurricanes,  what we assumed to be routine and somewhat predictable has been turned upside down and inside-out.  Stress levels and anxiety are the new daily normal.

I say all this to acknowledge that we ALL feel overwhelmed and anxious, not only when we deal with our current daily activities, but also when we think about what the future may bring.  These feelings are entirely normal, and they are shared by others in our state and nation.

When we acknowledge these feelings and realize they are indeed normal, we become even more committed to doing what we do best, which is to reach out and help our fellow citizens when their needs and challenges are greater than ever!  Because we are engaged in nonprofit and philanthropic work, we are called on to “up our game” during times like these. We all have done that.  Please know The Alliance recognizes, appreciates, and celebrates the incredibly good work being done throughout the state!

This edition of The Ally is focused on the benefits associated with being a member of The Alliance.  Our job is to provide training, technical assistance, consulting, and other services and products to help you be successful.  In addition to these regular Alliance offerings, we are committed to identifying other unique benefits and opportunities to strengthen your efforts.  These “benefits of membership” are made available to all Alliance members.

We will continue to seek out and enhance the member benefits, and I encourage you to check out our website – https://www.alliancems.org – and review the available services.  If you have questions or suggestions, please contact Maribeth Kitchings at membership@alliancems.org.

Continue to stay safe, and thanks for doing what you do best – caring for others!  We appreciate you.

Sammy Moon
Executive Director

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