“Nonprofits need to get to know each other, stay up to date with each other, maximize collaboration, and minimize duplication. It’s easier said than done, but this work is so much easier with a community of support.”– Melissa Ferraro
Sisters Place was nominated for the Nonprofit Excellence in Collective Impact Award, which was announced during the 2021 GPNP Annual Meeting for the partnerships they created as a result of their pivot as an organization to meet increasing community needs. The staff at Sisters Place, which works to empower people to overcome poverty and secure stable housing, decided COVID-19 restrictions were not going to stop them from moving their entire operation across town and creating new services and a new fund-raiser.
COVID complicated moving offices, services, and housing for 30 families from Clairton to the Hilltop Area. Sisters Place did it anyway, ensuring at the same time that the individuals and families for whom it provides housing also had adequate food and personal protective equipment.
In addition, Sisters Place continued wrap-around services for its vulnerable clients, many of whom are in recovery from substance use disorder or have mental illnesses. And it launched plans to offer some of its services, such as life skills building, to the whole community. Staff also began collaborating with four other nonprofits and Commonplace Coffee to create a business plan for a coffee and thrift shop that will serve the dual purposes of work training and fundraising.
The nonprofits – C-Clear Empowerment, Catapult Greater Pittsburgh, Treasure House Fashions, When She Thrives and Sisters Place — partnered with Commonplace Coffee to create a specialty blend that the five sell to raise funds. Stop in during a Free Coffee Friday at their 111 Brownsville Rd. location between 10 and noon each Friday to tour the facility, meet the staff, and sample the Community Blend coffee.
In a recent interview with Sisters Place Executive Director and new member of the GPNP Advisory Team, Melissa Ferraro, GPNP got to hear more about challenges she has observed that are quite unique to the nonprofit sector as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The first challenge is workforce recruitment and retention according to Melissa. “It’s difficult to provide competitive salaries and benefits to employees when compared to for-profit organizations; it’s tough, especially because as a leader you want to give back to your staff.” See their current job postings here. Another challenge she’s seen across nonprofits is the retention of staff since we are currently in an employee-oriented job market. As a result, it can be a struggle to manage recruitment and turnover since filling roles and onboarding new team members is time and labor-intensive. For nonprofits interested in having conversations with elected officials on this issue, GPNP recommends participating in the Workforce Development Survey to capture those stories to share collectively.
For the remainder of this year, Sisters Place will continue to expand current programming to support more individuals and communities as their reach grows at their new location in the Hilltop Area. Their most recent event, Crushed Grapes raised over $75,000 for the organization and was their first in-person major event since the beginning of the pandemic. Learn more about current projects and programs from Sisters Place including the Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community, Neighbors in Need, Free Coffee Fridays, and the Bookshelf Project by visiting their website.
As a new GPNP Advisory Team Member, Melissa will help set the direction of GPNP during the 2022-2024 cycle – welcome aboard, Melissa! To stay up to date with all things GPNP and The Forbes Funds, subscribe to our weekly eNewsletter.