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News Nonprofits & Philanthropy Start Up Statewide

DANA launches nonprofit accelerator

Katie Tabeling
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DANA is offering a chance for eight organizations to receive up to $220,000 in services at a low cost in an accelerator program.WILMINGTON — In an effort to help smaller nonprofits get off the ground, the Delaware Alliance for Nonprofit Advancement (DANA) is launching a three-year accelerator program for eight organizations.

The program will offer technical assistance, coaching, consulting and connections to nonprofits. Upon entry, cohort members will receive a comprehensive assessment complete on their organization, serving as a guiding development roadmap. From there, the Nonprofit Accelerator Program will host workshops, peer-to-peer mentoring and other structured events to lift these leaders up.

“It’s a combination of a structured and unstructured program so that organizations can customize what their needs are,” DANA President & CEO Shelia Bravo said. “Each organization is going to be on a different journey and pathway and we want to make sure that what they’re getting is going to be what they need.”

Ideal nonprofits in this cohort will include organizations that serve communities in and have been operating for at least three years with an executive director. Organizations with an operating budget less than $3 million will also be prioritized.

Bravo said that for years, DANA has seen smaller nonprofits struggle with internal capacity and creating processes to facilitate growth. That disparity became more acute in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, when nonprofits were stretched thin as they raced to help those in need in marginalized communities.

“Those agencies didn’t have the ability to even apply for grants. They were just fighting fires all the time. A lot of our members are trying to do good work, but they also need to know things that aren’t program related and they don’t have the bandwidth to take it on,” she said.

Last year, DANA’s staff talked about what could make a difference for these smaller agencies. That’s where the idea of an accelerator— specifically designed to have DANA staff and consultants work alongside these organizations — was born.

The U.S. Small Business Administration issued DANA a grant for $810,000, secured by Delaware’s federal delegation, to launch the program.

Over the course of three years, DANA will work with these organizations on leadership, board support, governance practices, operating strategies, financial management or human resources and more. Depending on the initial assessment, nonprofits in the cohort have two paths: one that focuses on leadership strength and one that focuses on operational support.

In the first year, participating nonprofits can expect to attend three workshops and have a bank of support hours to use however needed. As the program winds down in its third year, that bank of office hours would grow smaller.

For example, if a nonprofit needed additional guidance on financial reporting, DANA would connect them with an accountant through the office hours allocation in the first year of the accelerator. Come the third year, the expectation is to help train a staff member to handle finances.

The U.S. SBA Grant covers 90% of the costs for nonprofits to participate in the accelerator. Costs for participating range between $13,000 and $22,000 across three years. Services provided to the cohort are valued between $130,000 to $220,000, according to DANA’s website.

The Nonprofit Accelerator Program is accepting applications now until Oct. 1.

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