Paula Malmfeldt, the executive director of CASA of Forsyth County, is approaching one year in her current role, and it’s provided her with a plethora of new experiences and even a few conundrums.
On a recent Wednesday, Malmfeldt joined 13 other leaders of local nonprofit organizations at a new monthly roundtable. She heard discussions about providing health care for employees and the advantages of having advisors, but Malmfeldt had a few questions of her own.
Two sponsors had backed out of a recent event because alcohol was served; Malmfeldt surveyed the group to see if they had similar experiences. It had Malmfeldt reconsidering CASA’s approach to serving alcohol at events; were others doing the same, she asked.
Malmfeldt then asked about fundraising philosophies.
“I’m sorry to be so needy today,” Malmfeldt said.
“That’s what this is,” said Karen Rivera, executive director of Cumming Home Ministries. “We need each other.”
The world of nonprofits continues to get more complicated, particularly in affluent suburbs like Forsyth County, where a growing population leads to an increased need for resources offered by local organizations. The roundtable meeting formed out of conversations that Sarah Pedarre’, executive director of Forsyth County Community Connection, had with the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce about how to help local nonprofits navigate that changing landscape.
“They have these roundtables for for-profits, but would we even want to talk to each other?” Pedarre’ said. “Of course, we would. We’re all doing the same thing.”
So the Chamber enlisted Al Hermann, a community volunteer and the Chamber’s resident roundtable facilitator, to convene several nonprofit organizations, including Family Promise of Forsyth County, Jesse’s House, Mentor Me, Family Haven and more.
They meet the third Wednesday of every month in the morning and have already covered a wide range of topics, from tax laws to human resources and everything in between.
“It puts us in a situation where we can ask questions safely and get the expertise of people around us,” said Tina Huck, executive director of Family Promise of Forsyth County.
The roundtable meetings have proved beneficial in more practical ways, too. The organizations have provided each other with couches, filing cabinets, socks and Halloween costumes.
Once, a CASA volunteer’s son was looking to offer tennis lessons for those in need, so Malmfeldt put them in touch with Heidi Snarey, executive director of Bald Ridge Lodge, an organization that serves at-risk boys ages 12 to 21.
“These tennis groups came and gave our boys tennis lessons for six weeks. They loved it,” Snarey said. “It was something (CASA) couldn’t use, but we could. That was huge for our group.”
As they continue to meet, nonprofit leaders said they hope the roundtable meetings can help foster in even more collaboration between the organizations. They’ve talked about pulling together their marketing funds for initiatives or coordinating efforts on similar services, like food pantries.
“It’s been really profitable in lots of ways: knowledge, resources, friendships,” Malmfeldt said. “It’s been good.”