The WE in Southeast Pennsylvania

This Listening Tour Stop included Bucks County and Philadelphia. We started the tour in Bucks County, keep reading to see what we heard in Philadelphia!


We headed to Bucks County on March 19, where we met with Jamie Haddon, President and CEO of the United Way of Bucks County, followed by a focus group hosted by Linda Bishop, Vice President and Esther Hughes, Relationship Manager, at MileStone Bank. We then met with Janet Mintzer, CEO and President, and Jill Reeder, Chief Financial and Operations Officer on the beautiful grounds of Pearl S. Buck International. In the evening, we joined PANO Board Chair, Ifeoma Aduba, at a Jeffersonian Dinner she hosted on behalf of her organization, A Women’s Place, where we engaged in a thoughtful conversation around the question of: How can individuals, businesses and organizations from different parts of society work together to create that ideal, empowered, flourishing community?



Individuals in Bucks County said they loved their community because:

  • The sense of community
  • Social service agencies work together
  • Diverse community—with diverse populations and diverse organizations
  • The geographical, physical beauty
  • History of Bucks County; each town has a unique history
  • Great location between two big cities
  • Gifted, smart, kind people
  • Wealthy community and people who share their wealth to do good things
  • People really care about those most vulnerable
  • Includes community colleges that are rated highest among community colleges in the country




Following are the things we heard as issues from people living in Bucks County, listed in no particular order.

Need systems that assist organizations/services to collaborate

  • Assist organizations in making the commitment to work together
  • Share stories of successful collaborations
  • Provide information about how to find organizations with similar missions before starting a new nonprofit
  • Engage conversations about nonprofits working with for-profits to tap into training resources available

Change community’s perception about needs

  • Talk about the strengths of what we do well rather than constant focus on needs
  • Nonprofits have much to bring to the table—not just a conglomeration of needs
  • For-profits have needs too—assistance with relationships, desire to be appreciated
  • Sectors need deeper understanding of each other’s needs
  • Convene organizations regularly to increase understanding
  • Create a “Generosity Marketplace”

Become a connector to information and  resources

  • Create and share library of available resources (e.g. resources and guides available through the Centers for Independent Living)
  • Share what is working elsewhere  in the state—showcase agencies/programs

 Focus on advocacy

  • Train nonprofits on what they can do
  • Create an advocacy team
  • Provide key facts, sample letters and clear action steps
  • Host annual legislative breakfast—bring reps from each county

 Celebrate champions

  • Host Annual CEO Awards Dinner for CEO’s who made a difference in the state
  • Feature ED in the Quarterly Newsletter

Support for CEO’s is needed

  • Perhaps hold 1 hour CEO support groups in each region
  • Space for shared learnings (e.g. “the mistakes that I’ve made”)

Create space to make mistakes—and learn from them

 Engage in Fiscal Sponsorship

 Move annual conference out of Harrisburg and/or create regional meetings

 Problems are hidden BECAUSE county is perceived as wealthy

 People need map to assist in sharing resourceand leverage strengths to help each other

 People need to know about the community needs that exist

 Need ways to share stories publicly—as the Philadelphia media is hard to compete with




Bright and early on March 20, we headed to Philadelphia, where we were welcomed and hosted by board member, Don Kramer, on the 28th floor of  Montgomery, McCracken, Walker and Rhoads, LLP. That afternoon, we met with Laura Otten, Director of the Nonprofit Center of LaSalle University and Jim Domenick of Domenick and Associates. On March 21, we met with Debra Kahn, Executive Director of the Philanthropy Network of Greater Philadelphia and Andrew Swinney, President of The Philadelphia Foundation. Don Kramer’s firm graciously hosted the first Philadelphia focus group. On April 3, Nancy Dunleavy and Stephanie Taylor of Dunleavy & Associates  held a focus group in the gorgeous rooms of the Union League of Philadelphia.

Anne & Don


Individuals living in Philadelphia said they love their city because:

  • Diversity—among both organizations and people; brotherly love and sisterly affection
  • People come back to Philadelphia after they leave
  • Unique culture including arts, science and history
  • Its walkability
  • People know people—it’s a small city
  • Big enough to be diverse but small enough to get things done
  • Historical roots for our nation (e.g. support for President Lincoln started here at the Union League)
  • The city’s energy, with the restaurants and other businesses
  • City of Neighborhoods with a vibrant center city and each neighborhood that has its own vibrancy
  • Philadelphia’s leadership is phenomenal in getting the work done—with humility
  • Community that is willing to give back—generosity
  • The City’s compassion
  • Innovative, cutting edge nonprofits (e.g. Youth United for Change)
  • Diverse economy—not just one industry
  • City of colleges which provides resources not just for the City but for the nation.



Following are the things we heard as issues in Philadelphia, listed in no particular order:

Collaboration—Strategic Partnerships

  • Reduce redundancies on a community-wide basis
  • Too many nonprofits
  • In these days when we are understaffed and underfunded, we are in tunnel vision and organizations have a harder time working together
  • Be strategic about WHY organizations should merge or collaborate
  • Collaboration should not be a substitute for well-run organizations
  • Promote collaboration – joint projects – business partners
  • Merging is difficult – communication is the key, as is the right leadership for the new entity
  • Set aside difference to put the whole picture together – move from “this is mine” thinking
  • Need good consultants
  • Develop a shared framework, including a shared agenda and common vision
  • Teach people how to have difficult conversations by being a non-interested facilitator
  • Be a fiscal agent only for organizations truly working together

Make the case for business community

  • We are not engaged in giving handouts but in building the community’s workforce
  • Spend dollars locally, not nationally
  • Develop sustainability in the nonprofit sector
  • Help for-profits understand how many dollars can be made in the nonprofit sector
  • Educate for-profits about what they will spend, their rate of return and the role of unions
  • Make ourselves appealing as a “social investment” for businesses

Create common messaging about nonprofit sector—to be used by the sector

  • Nonprofit sector needs to promote itself with confidence as we are often “invisible”
  • The sector needs a clear shared vision – often misunderstood
  • Educate communities about the role of nonprofits and their work
  • Talk about the economic value of the sector with the value-add of SOCIAL benefit
  • Present as a sector with professional knowledge that does not talk down to those not in the sector
  • Enhance community view of the nonprofit sector—it is rather shallow in part because nonprofits should not use their status to be mediocre; in fact we have a duty to be well-run

Convene conversations between philanthropy/foundations and nonprofits

  • Philanthropists cannot do their work without nonprofits and vice versa
  • Need to educate the funders
  • Foundations have chosen what they think is right for the community rather than having the community choose what is right for the community
  • Additional convening of funders (in addition to the member associations designed for and by the funders themselves)
  • Recruit foundations as PANO members and increase their visibility as a convener on PANO’s behalf
  • Bridge the gap between grantees and foundations

Advocacy is needed to mobilize the collective voice of the nonprofits

  • Payment in lieu of taxes
  • Budgets passed with payments coming in on time
  • Better state contracting
  • Protection from tax erosion
  • Sector is not prepared for assault on tax exempt status/charitable deductions

 Align funding with day-to-day practices; be honest about funding realities

  • The revenue needs of the nonprofit sector are so large that all economies of scale from collaborative efforts will not put a dent is what is actually needed. The community is denying the immensity of the problem.
  • Corporate leaders and funders need to honestly look at this; nonprofits are exhausted chasing dollars that do not, in reality exist
  • Showcase strong nonprofits – not nonprofits that almost going out of existence due to their deficits

Advocacy for common issues

  •  Need to speak on behalf of the nonprofit sector on issues that have a common cause (e.g. taxation)
  • Need to teach nonprofits how to lobby
  • Support issue-related causes by convening organizations and the sector

 Connection to information and resources

  • Need to know what other organizations are out there
  • Connect-ability per region or per cause
  • Research new nonprofits and reach out to them to let them know about PANO’s resources—be proactive, not reactive


Convene around issues

  • Play a lead role in being the organization of organizations—define big sector issues and the convene organizations that are doing similar things around the same issues
  • Bridge nonprofit and for-profit worlds
  • Know and join the groups that are already convening rather than starting from scratch


Best Practices as a means to the ends, not the destination

  • Best practices may best seen as situational because all nonprofits are slightly different
  • Increase the awareness of how to do business well
  • Continue to show the standard of how to operate

Pennsylvania is made up of rural communities

  •  PANO could play a role in convening resources for rural communities (e.g. through State Association of Small School  Superintendents)

 Showcasing ALL sizes of nonprofits

  • Small organizations are doing amazing things to demonstrate best practices – large is not always better

The nonprofit sector is the only place where all three sectors convene

  • Around the board table if nothing else

Board Development

  • Get board members to bring their smarts into meetings—not leave them at the door
  • Make board service non-isolating
  • Create opportunities to bring boards together—because that is how business is done
  • Need for board development about best practices for recruiting board members

 Staff Training and Succession Planning

  • Need to build the leadership pipeline
  • Staff development and training is needed—pool of talent is scarce
  • Create room for growth
  • Transitioning without killing the organization

 Conduct  a statewide Salary and Benefit Survey

  • (e.g. Do you offer health insurance?)

 Engage corporate and civic leaders

Community assessments at the county level needs to get beyond just what the “experts” think

Leverage collective purchasing power

Nancy Dunleavy and Stephanie Taylor

A special shout-out to PANO board member, Don Kramer and his lovely wife Vicki Kramer, who hosted us for dinner in their home overlooking Independence Hall. Thanks, again to Nancy Dunleavy of Dunleavy and Associates for sponsoring and hosting us at the Union League of Philadelphia. And as always, a special thanks to Maher Duessel, CPAs for partnering with PANO to make this Listening Tour Possible!

We’ll be heading to Media in Delaware County in May, thanks to our hosts, Elko and Associates, Ltd.



If you want to join the conversation but don’t want to wait until we come to your community:

At PANO, WE are not interested in PANO—we are interested in what WE can do with all of you.  Join us.  Join the WE!

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