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Non-for-Profit Leaders Discuss Challenges in the Era of Impact

Not-for-Profit organizations that expect to be successful today must operate more like businesses. That was the message of top not-for-profit leaders who gathered for a panel discussion on challenges facing not-for-profit organizations in the Era of Impact.

The Business Council of Westchester’s latest People’s United Bank Leadership Series held at Kanopi in White Plains on November 5 brought together not-for-profit leaders who gave their advice on how organizations can be successful as they compete for philanthropic support in a shrinking pool of donors.

The program, moderated by Elizabeth Bracken Thompson of Thompson & Bender, brought together Louis J. DeGennaro, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS); Jeremy Christopher Kohomban, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Children’s Village; Joseph Kenner, Vice President of Programs and Partnerships of Greyston and Janet Langsam, CEO of ArtsWestchester.

DeGennaro said not-for-profits share the same challenges as businesses when it comes to finding talent and to shaping their missions and goals to meet new demands for accountability. Data, P&L and budgets all weigh heavily in a world where funders are demanding proof of results.

Kohomban said that keeping a finger on the pulse of changing trends was critical to success. Organizations need to adapt their goals and missions to keep up with change. He talked about the changing face of The Children’s Village since it was founded in 1851 to better the lives of New York City’s street children, mainly orphans of Irish, Italian and German immigrants. Times and the demographics of the children they serve have changed dramatically, and while the mission remains the same, the goals and how to achieve them have had to adapt.

A 2014 Johns Hopkins study found that Westchester nonprofits employed roughly 54,000 people. The study also found that as of 2011, Westchester nonprofits generated $6.9 billion in revenues, of which $6.6 billion was spent on the services they provide.

“We are fortunate to have such a rich tapestry of nonprofits in Westchester County, which employ tens of thousands of people and provide essential programs and services to people of all ages and backgrounds,” said BCW President and CEO Marsha Gordon. “Many of our member organizations are nonprofits, and whether it’s through forums such as these or through advocacy efforts at all levels of the government, the BCW is committed to helping our nonprofits thrive here in Westchester.”


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