Nonprofit Academy of Wisconsin to provide education, support for area organizations

Founded by former Nonprofit Center of Milwaukee CEO Rob Meiksins

A former chief executive officer of the now-closed Nonprofit Center of Milwaukee has launched a new organization to provide area nonprofits with educational programs and support.

Rob Meiksins, a longtime nonprofit consultant who led the Nonprofit Center for two years until retiring in 2017, said the new Nonprofit Academy of Wisconsin is focused on supporting small- and mid-sized nonprofits.

Rob Meiksins

Meiksins previously advised area nonprofits as the owner of Forward Steps Consulting, LLC, and served as senior consultant at the McDonald Schaefer Group.

When he was still working for the Nonprofit Center, Meiksins said he realized there was a need for providing more “intentional” and uniform curriculum for nonprofits based on best practices in the sector. The Nonprofit Academy is aimed at filling that need by offering educational programs based on the Standards for Excellence, a national accreditation program for nonprofits.

Meiksins also envisions the organization providing coaching services for nonprofits to help them become “lifelong learners.”

“Nonprofits have an opportunity to be intentional and smart about what it is they want to work on and develop a capacity-building plan, to really look at their organization from top to bottom, from management to how do you answer the door, and start talking to each other about what aspects of how we manage our business, how we develop our internal culture, how we work with each other that they would like to pay attention to.”

The Nonprofit Academy recently received 501(c)3 status and is overseen by a three-person board, which includes Meiksins.

While the Nonprofit Academy has launched as an independent organization, Meiksins said he envisions it eventually being folded into another agency.

“We do feel that there is this gap that needs to be filled so we decided to go ahead and create a nonprofit while we continue talking with other folks about whether or not we should be a program of (another organization),” he said.

The Nonprofit Academy has scheduled workshops in the coming months regarding leadership and management and fiscal sustainability.

The Nonprofit Center of Milwaukee closed its operation in January after 32 years, which nonprofit leaders said have created some gaps in resources for area nonprofits.

Before it closed, the Nonprofit Center said it served more than 400 nonprofit member organizations and more than 40 corporate members of its Business Volunteer Council.

“It provided a lot of education and it was education that wasn’t for the individuals that are in the sector but for the organizations themselves; it was this concept of promoting and supporting the nonprofit organizations, and therefore the whole sector,” Meiksins said. “It was a place that was able to bring people together to talk, to share with each other and learn from each other. It was a place for nonprofits of all shapes and sizes to find the support that they needed.”

“When you look at the smaller to mid-sized nonprofit organizations, especially the ones that are in Milwaukee’s central city, they don’t have access to a lot of that stuff unless the Nonprofit Center is around,” he added.

The Nonprofit Center also operated the now defunct nonprofit jobs listing website Jobs That Serve and volunteer matching website Volunteer Milwaukee. A new website, Jobs That Help, recently launched as a resource for nonprofit organizations and job seekers in the Milwaukee region.

“Our non-profits form the backbone of our communities not only through the critical services they provide, but through offering meaningful employment opportunities in our communities,” said Ben Hastil, who founded and operates Jobs That Help. “We are proud to be helping our nonprofits secure the best talent possible, while helping our local job seekers find the best match for their skills and passion.”

The former Nonprofit Center’s Volunteer Milwaukee program and Giving Tree initiative, which provided 13,000 holiday gifts annually to families in need, has since been taken on by the United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County.

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Lauren Anderson
Lauren Anderson covers health care, nonprofits, education and insurance for BizTimes. Lauren previously reported on education for the Waukesha Freeman. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied journalism, history and African studies. In her free time, Lauren enjoys spending time with family and friends and seeing live music wherever she can.