Did you know that there are more nonprofit organizations than any other single category of business in the City of Renton? That is a surprising, but accurate statistic, according to Bill Taylor, CEO of the . That means more, by category, than restaurants, car dealers, real-estate brokers, or any other group that you can think of in Renton.
The list of nonprofit agencies in Renton is rather staggering when you look at the groups assembled into a spreadsheet. There are 134 in the 98056 zip code alone.
To help support those nonprofit organizations manage productivity, boards, financial and fundraising needs, and do what they do in a better way, the Chamber of Commerce organized a group called Renton Area Non-Profits Unite (RANU). The group recently celebrated its one year anniversary, during which RANU has been an amazing success by all accounts.
Jolene Bernhard, the Director of Development and Community Relations with Renton Area Youth Services and Capt. Terry Masango, from the co-chaired the group during its first year.
“The last thing we wanted to do when we started this group was reinvent the wheel,” Bernhard said. “We were cognizant of the people that were already doing good work out there, we wanted to plug into where the need was and where help was needed, and to eliminate any duplicated efforts.”
The Chamber’s connection, Bernhard said, enables non-profits to share with businesses what they are doing, and also make connections with individuals who want to help, share resources, and yes, asking for fundraising help.
Masango said the group is important for advisory board members, and churches, who want to be able to link in to what others are doing.
During one RANU meeting, the group recruited members of Renton Ecumenical Association of Churches (REACH) to a meeting to network because the members indicated that they wanted to be more involved in the community.
"We couldn't get people out the building afterward they were so busy sharing information," Masango said. "We had given them a forum to discuss the services they were providing and what they are doing."
The group has compiled an impressive resource list for non-profits that want to get involved or need help in things like board training and development, fundraising assistance, and help in becoming more self-sustaining. It's a one-stop shop and calendar of events on where you can go for more information.
“People come into nonprofits with their hearts,” Bernhard said, “but they also need to come in with their heads on how to best develop their infrastructure.”
“Many nonprofit organizations don’t know how to develop their board base,” Masango said. At RANU monthly meetings, nonprofits can learn more about how to do this, and learn about other topics important to them.
The co-chairs said one of RANU's objectives is to include service clubs, churches, PTA’s and homeowners associations.
“People underestimate the power of nonprofits,” Bernhard said. “It is an opportunity for our business community to get involved. We have been working with all groups to be the vessel to coordinate efforts in the community."
CEO Taylor said that, “We found that for the most part that non-profits are like individual islands, having little or no connection with each other and in many cases trying to do the same thing in the same way and paying the same expense to get a job done when, with cooperation and collaboration, they can get more done, more effectively and at a lower total cost.”
Taylor applauds the committee co-chairs for their efforts this first year.
“Under the outstanding leadership of the Chair and Co-chair,” Taylor said, we have been able to bring them together is such a way that synergistic outcomes are achievable.
Renton has an impressive core group of nonprofits in the downtown core, alone, including , , , the , The Renton Clothes Bank, Piazza Renton, , , and , to name a few. Most of these organizations have been active participants at RANU meetings.
RANU meets monthly on the fourth Wednesday of the month at 8:30 a.m. at various locations. The next meeting is Wednesday May 25th, at HealthPoint, 202 S. 2nd Street Renton, 98057.
For more information on RANU, contact the at 425-226-4560.