Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo

New Initiative to Strengthen Nonprofit Sector Launches in WNY

Sep 28, 2016 | Posted in News

Buffalo, NY – Today, nearly a dozen local partners and funders joined the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo to launch charitySTRONG, a new initiative created with support from New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to assist nonprofit organizations in achieving the highest standards of board leadership, governance and oversight. The first pilot regions include Western New York and the New York City metropolitan area.

charitySTRONG will accomplish its mission to strengthen board leadership through two programs, which are accessible through the organization’s website,

The first program,onBoard, is an innovative matching service designed to connect community-minded individuals interested in board service to nonprofit organizations in need of board members. The second program, Directors U, is an online library of educational and training resources that focuses on governance best practices and nonprofit laws and regulations. It features the signature course, Good Practices for Good Boards, created with BoardSource, the leader in nonprofit director education and research.

“Our region’s nonprofit sector delivers vital services that improve the quality of life for citizens and drives economic development,” said Clotilde Perez-Bode Dedecker, President and CEO of the Community Foundation and Chair of the charitySTRONG Board of Directors. “Therefore, it is critical that our nonprofits have strong leadership to ensure their effectiveness and sustainability. We are proud to support this effort in partnership with the Attorney General and several local and statewide partners that have committed their time and talents to make this announcement today a reality.”

charitySTRONG is an outgrowth of the work of the Leadership Committee for Nonprofit Revitalization, commissioned by Attorney General Schneiderman. This group, which included Community Foundation President and CEO Clotilde Perez-Bode Dedecker and other nonprofit leaders from across New York State, was tasked with identifying ways to strengthen governance and create efficiencies in the nonprofit sector. Recognizing that strong board leadership is fundamental to the well-being of nonprofit organizations, the Committee recommended the creation of onBOARD and Directors U to improve director recruitment and training throughout the state.

The Community Foundation then convened local partners to form the Western New York Advisory Council to support this critical effort (listed below).

“The value nonprofit organizations add to the health of our communities and economies cannot be overstated,” said Karen Spaulding, Vice President of Philanthropic Support at The John R. Oishei Foundation and member of the charitySTRONG Western New York Advisory Council. “charitySTRONG will provide critical resources to nonprofits of all sizes and individuals looking to use their talents and passions to improve their communities.”

Western New York is home to more than 5,000 nonprofit organizations. In 2015 alone, the nonprofit sector in our region generated $7.4 billion in revenue and held $11 billion in total assets.

“charitySTRONG offers a unique opportunity for employers, as well as nonprofit organizations,” said Nancy Brock, Vice President and Program Director of The M&T Bank Charitable Foundation. “This organization is an excellent resource for employers like us looking to provide service opportunities to employees. Individuals that serve on boards develop leadership and professional skills while making a difference in their community. We are proud to be a local funder of charitySTRONG.”

charitySTRONG’s services are free of charge and are open to individuals interested in board service, nonprofit organizations seeking help with recruitment and governance resources, and employers looking to provide their employees with community leadership opportunities. All are welcome to register and learn more at

Local funders of charitySTRONG include the Burt Flickinger Jr. Leadership Fund, the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, the First Niagara Foundation/KeyBank, The John R. Oishei Foundation, M&T Bank, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation and the Western New York Foundation.

The following members represent the 2016 Western New York Advisory Council:

  • Brian Ahern, Williams Lea
  • Molly Anderson, Center for Leadership and Organizational Effectiveness, University at Buffalo School of Management
  • Adam Bartoszek, The Service Collaborative of WNY
  • Liz Callahan, Buffalo Niagara Partnership
  • Karen Christie, United Way of Buffalo & Erie County
  • Clotilde Perez-Bode Dedecker, Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo
  • Tod Kniazuk, Arts Services Initiative of Western New York, Inc.
  • Althea E. Luehrsen, Leadership Buffalo
  • Karen Lee Spaulding, The John R. Oishei Foundation
  • Tasha Villani, Leadership Niagara
  • Mike Weiner, United Way of Buffalo & Erie County

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