Chamber’s Philanthropic Partnerships Event Brings to Light Opportunities in the Community

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Provided by Prince William Chamber of Commerce

Eileen Ellsworth, CEO of the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia was the Keynote Speaker. She challenged attendees to think differently about philanthropy.

Eileen Ellsworth, CEO of the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia was the Keynote Speaker. She challenged attendees to think differently about philanthropy.

On Tuesday, June 7, the Prince William Chamber of Commerce hosted a new event entitled Philanthropic Partnerships: Building a Stronger Community Together at the Manassas Park Community Center. The purpose of the half-day of seminars was to bring together the for-profit and not-for-profit communities to share ideas and resources; coming together around a common passion for improving the quality of life for the people of Prince William County and the Cities of Manassas and Manassas Park. According to Keynote Speaker Eileen Ellsworth, President of the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia, the kind of collaboration the event encouraged is much needed in the modern not-for-profit world.
Ellsworth shared some shocking statistics with the gathering of not-for-profit executives and community-minded business people. She opened her remarks by stating that a recent study shows that 80% of all Americans will experience economic hardship before age 60, meaning that three out of every five individuals in the United States will spend a year or more in poverty before reaching retirement. “Anti-poverty programs are not for other people,” said Ellsworth. “They are for your friends, your family and your employees. They may even be for you.” She went on to note that corporate philanthropy offers the opportunity for businesses to be co-equal partners in social change.
During her remarks, Ellsworth also spoke about significant trends in the changing role of not-for-profit organizations in the community, touching on the need for not-for-profit organizations to pool resources for greater impact saying, “Leadership in this case means collaboration. We all need to move to an abundance mentality, not being afraid to share with one another. It’s all for the good of the people we serve.” She also said that the ‘overhead myth’ brought to light by Dan Pollotta in a popular TED talk has been keeping the not-for-profit sector paradoxically small, even as we ask these organizations and the people who run them to take on the biggest issues facing our communities. Ellsworth encouraged local not-for-profit organizations to take part in the shift: to spend money on advertising because “money follows awareness” and to seek out top talent and compensate them for their knowledge, skills and abilities. 
Attendees took part in a series of facilitated roundtable discussions, touching on topics such as “Corporate Philanthropy: What’s in it for You?” and “Turning Fundraising into FUNdraising.” Debbie Bennett, a CPA and partner with the accounting firm of Bennett Atkinson & Associates said, “This event exceeded my expectations. I hope the Chamber will do this again next year.”
Youth for Tomorrow (YFT) was the Presenting Sponsor for the Chamber’s Philanthropic Partnerships event. During his remarks, YFT CEO Dr. Gary Jones offered advice to fellow not-for-profit executives in the room saying, “This is not an easy job that we do. I encourage you to take yourself out of the equation. When you’re asking for money, you are not asking for money for yourself. It’s for the people you serve.”
The Chamber wishes to thank event sponsors Youth for Tomorrow; Bennett, Atkinson & Associates, P.C.; InsideNOVA-Prince William; Northern Virginia Community College-Manassas Campus; Steve’s Auto Repair; What’s Up Woodbridge; Advantage Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation; Arbonne International-Rebecca Miller; Block Advisors, and Minuteman Press Manassas. 

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