Highlights of the 2022 MNN Conference

On October 19th, MNN convened members and supporters of the nonprofit community across all parts of the state to connect with one another at our Annual Conference (held in-person for the first time in two years). The event, Impact. Realized., sought to hold up the incredible work that has been done over the past few years, and share stories for collective inspiration. 

The nonprofit sector faced the challenges of the pandemic head on when not everyone didwith innovative ideas and expanded services, it was nonprofit organizations that ensured the needs of their communities were met. The conference began with a keynote panel composed of previous MNN award winners to share what their experiences were like during this time, and look ahead to the future of the sector. 

My project-6 (13)-minGladys Vega of La Colaborativa worked tirelessly to serve her community of Chelsea, one of the hardest hit cities in the United States. Giving out everything from mattresses to vaccines to Chelsea residents, her organization multiplied the work they had already been doing. When asked about how funders have responded, she said, “it took the pandemic for them to notice people like me and the work we were doing…I’m not gonna let that happen again.”

[On funders], “it took the pandemic for them to notice people like me and the work we were doing…I’m not gonna let that happen again.” -Gladys Vega

My project-8 (3)-minThe shapeshifting that took place within organizations was something all of the panelists could relate to. Patrick Remy of Easterseals Massachusetts represented the many organizations that hosted in-person classes prior to the pandemic. In trying to find new and creative ways to reach their target population, they found online gaming became a point of connection. Patrick explained they were able to convert even the most skeptical, and many who never considered the activity before found they enjoyed themselves.

My project-2 (41)-minThe panel also touched on the difficulties many nonprofit organizations face when dealing with grant foundations. Speaking to both nonprofits and foundations, Dan Noyes of Tech Goes Home shared a reminder about where their roles lie, saying, “I hate the phrase ‘let’s bring the community to the table’the community owns the table.” He continued to say these people they are trying to help “are not ‘hard to reach’. If they are, it’s because you made them so”. 

“I hate the phrase ‘let’s bring the community to the table’the community owns the table.” -Dan Noyes

My project-9-minMary Beth McMahon of Special Olympics Massachusetts added on the topic of grants, that the constant pressure of trying to secure limited funds for your own organization has led to isolation from other nonprofits. She advocated for reaching out to those organizations around you instead of viewing them primarily as competition, and shared the value in building a stronger community to share knowledge with. 

Other themes throughout the day included diversity, equity, and inclusion, nonprofit technology, and improved communication with donors. With workshops on pressing topics like these, attendees were able to take away tools for achieving more inclusive, innovative, and efficient working environments. 

In addition to thought-provoking workshops, the conference included expert roundtables, networking, and a luncheon program honoring more MNN awardees and presenting this year’s Lifetime Achievement Awards. The 2022 recipients are Linda Cavaioli formerly of YWCA Central Massachusetts, and Michael Curry of The Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers.

We want to thank all those who were able to attend the live conference. We are already looking forward to next year, and thinking through how to make 2023 even better.