New York Council of Nonprofits (NYCON)

“What does it really take to build a sustainable nonprofit community? We need to be rewarding and incentivizing folks for being creative and taking risks, and we need to recognize the challenges they face.” – Doug Sauer, Chief Executive Officer, NYCON

The New York Council of Nonprofits (NYCON) works to develop an effective, vibrant nonprofit community in the state through strengthening organizational capacity, public advocacy, legal services, financial management, and research to demonstrate the impact of the sector. In the past year, over 45 Mid-Hudson Valley nonprofits engaged NYCON for technical assistance projects.

NYCON differs from other Dyson Foundation grantees because they support the entire nonprofit sector in the Mid-Hudson Valley, offering services that are critical to organizations surviving current changes in the political and financial landscapes. Grants to NYCON fall within the Strengthening Nonprofits and Public Policy themes.

“The landscape is changing across the board, whether it’s the arts and culture or the Medicaid world, and a lot of service providers need to expand funding streams and not be overly dependent on a particular revenue source,” says CEO Doug Sauer. “The smaller organizations are having a difficult time achieving scale, costs are going up on everything from operating expenses to Paid Family Leave, and they go up regardless of revenue.”

In addition to capacity-building and technical assistance services in a variety of areas, NYCON’s low-cost services have been instrumental in the success of the Dyson Foundation’s Strategic Restructuring Initiative, with Sauer facilitating a record 11 local restructuring processes in the year prior to this grant. “We understand the language, the issues, that it’s a people process, and that’s what makes these things work. We have models for that, we know what to anticipate, and we can identify opportunities quite easily as well as serious concerns,” says Sauer.

“Strategic restructuring should be an option on the table all of the time, and ideally you want to do this when you’re in a strong position. Too often folks resist the concept until they are forced by circumstances,” says Sauer. Emphasizing the importance of advance strategic planning, he adds, “There’s a pretty good scenario that levels of funding will change dramatically over the next two to three years, particularly government funding.”

Additional NYCON programs that benefited Mid-Hudson Valley nonprofits in 2017 included the organizaton's 3-day boot camp designed to enhance the skills of new executive directors in all areas of nonprofit management, attended by a total of 11 Dyson Foundation grantees. The Foundation also partnered with NYCON, the Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley, and the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce to create a series of low-cost trainings called Bridges to Board Service, which provide an in-depth education on a variety of key topics to strengthen, diversify, and professionalize local board volunteers.