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DANA annual conference draws more than 900 participants

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By Kathy Canavan

Kathy@DelawareBusinessTimes

Jim Collins, author of “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t,” came to Delaware for the first time today, and more than 900 people turned out to see him.

JIm CollinsNewsletterThe author, whose books sold more than 10 million copies, was the keynote speaker at the annual conference of the Delaware Alliance for Nonprofit Advancement (DANA) at the Chase Center on the Riverfront. DANA President Chris Grundner said the conference drew about three times as many audience members as usual. The crowd was so large that attendees seated at dozens of tables on the ends of the room watched Collins on video screens.

Collins said Delaware’s small scale allows nonprofit leaders to think at a state level.

The nut of Collins message to the crowd of nonprofit leaders was, “Building something great is not primary a matter of circumstance. It is, first and foremost, a matter of conscious choices and discipline.”

Collins urged the nonprofit administrators to choose a cause they are deeply passionate about, do the one thing they can be best at, and choose a goal they know others will support.

Michael Niman of Nonprofit Business Solutions said, “I was blown away. When I went to business school, Jim Collins was core reading.”

Sheila Grant of AARP Delaware liked what Collins said about starting new projects in your fifties. “I think he could be a wonderful resource for people over 50, the people we work with at AARP. You know, some people don’t find their passion until later in life. They have a foundation of skills that they’ve gathered all throughout their lives. Retirement today does not mean winding down.”

Collins met privately with representatives of six Delaware nonprofits who had read his writings and prepared to meet with him to discuss their strategic plans.

“Everyone in attendance that I spoke to was inspired and energized by Jim’s talk. Many expressed to me that they believe today was a game-changer for both their organization and the nonprofit sector,” Grundner said. “However, as much of a capstone-type event this was, it is just the beginning of our work to bring Jim Collins’ Good to Great framework to nonprofits and the sector in Delaware.”

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