Nonprofit Organizations



Be Your Staffing Solution

Have you heard of Abilitree? Here’s what the business community is saying:

“If you have a function you have not been able to figure out in your manufacturing or business operations, look to Abilitree, there might be a solution there,” says Roger Lee, executive director for Economic Development of Central Oregon.

“I’m really glad that we’re part of [Abilitree] and I know that BendBroadband employees feel the same way,” says Amy Tykeson, CEO, Bend Broadband.

Not many people think to look to a nonprofit to increase their capacity or grow their team. After hearing about Abilitree, it’s our hope that we are your first contact for qualified applicants or outsourcing work.

Abilitree works with people with disabilities to help them identify, secure and maintain meaningful employment. We take care of the screening, training and supports necessary for a successful placement, so you don’t have to.

We don’t see our business partners as merely performing a social service and neither do they. They’ll tell you that we operate on a “win-win” basis. Employing individuals with disabilities is good for their bottom line and it’s good for our community. It’s the beauty of a win-win relationship.

Our hope is that Central Oregon continues to be a leader in employing individuals with disabilities and we invite you to help make it happen. You might be asking yourself, could they really do the job I need done, what kinds of positions or jobs can they fill? We can help you answer these questions and many others. Call us today and let’s get the conversation started.

You can reach April O’Meara with Abilitree at 541-388-8103 x210.




Adopt a School Initiative, Cultivating Creative Minds

As education and business leaders around the country prepared for the new school year, there were multiple discussions about the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities (PCAC) landmark report Reinvesting in Arts Education: Winning America’s Future Through Creative Schools. Conversations focused on arts education and its demonstrably positive effects on in-school success and after-school programs.

High profile businesses joined in the discussion to underscore the dynamic confluence of art and commerce and the arts’ ability to nurture innovative thinking skills and creativity, which are vital to remaining competitive in a global economy. The report cited a recent IBM Global CEO study which found that the most important leadership quality is creativity.

As Central Oregon’s largest nonprofit provider of arts education programs, Arts Central has always known what the IBM study revealed: creativity is vital to our kids’ success. That’s why the organization strives to ensure schools throughout the region have arts programming in place so students can achieve and thrive. Leveraging the concept that businesses can and should play a role in that pursuit, Arts Central recently launched Adopt a School, an initiative that relies on direct support from businesses to bring arts education into our schools.

The initiative is an opportunity for local businesses to make a tremendous, meaningful impact in our community. The program places professional teaching artists in schools to develop a residency that connects teacher enthusiasm with arts learning content to expand opportunities for students. Adopt a School builds collaborations to bring the arts to underserved students in the Bend LaPine School District’s Title I schools and to support teachers in developing comprehensive, well-rounded education offerings.

Creating a culture of high performance in schools requires much creativity to meet the diverse needs of our student population. Through Adopt a School, arts education is finding new allies in local business leaders, with local kids reaping the benefits. Working together with educators and district heads, these leaders are identifying the potential role of the arts in motivating students, providing fresh, effective classroom strategies and stimulating innovation.

Debbie Butler, 541-633-7242,



Transforming Lives

Since the Bethlehem Inn was established in 1999, our goal and mission has been to Transform Lives with Shelter, Help and Hope for the 1,100+ adults and children, who come to us in search of support every year.

The Inn is the only emergency shelter in Central Oregon serving adults and families experiencing homelessness. Last year, we provided 823 adults and children with shelter, meals, clothing and support services; another 341 non-residents received food and support. Over 66,000 meals were provided to our residents and others in need; 1,473 food boxes were distributed to exiting residents and others in crisis.

Because of the continuing economic hardship in Central and Eastern Oregon, not only does the Inn continue to experience an increase in the number of people seeking support, but we are also experiencing a significant shift in the demographic profile of those experiencing homelessness with an increase in women, children, senior adults and entire families.

The organization’s success in helping homeless adults and families stems from our case managers’ abilities to address the root causes of the residents’ life challenges. This process has brought more and more people to our door seeking fundamental change and stabilization.

This note from a former Inn resident best explains how the Inn addresses the need:

“I was a hopeless mess when we checked into the Bethlehem Inn. You treated us with respect and had a genuine concern for our situation. You didn’t judge how I got here, but encouraged me on where to go from here. Having a secure place to sleep and food to eat each night was a huge burden lifted. I am now hopeful. We will always be grateful for your help!”

To learn more about volunteer opportunities or to schedule a tour, contact Lynn Edwards at 541.322.8768 ext. 11.




by MARCEE HILLMAN CBN Feature Writer


Dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military service personnel and disabled Veterans through fly fishing and associated activities, the nonprofit organization Central Oregon Project Healing Waters (COPHW) is designed to ignite or rekindle the participants’ appreciation and enthusiasm for a wide variety of fly fishing outings.

In 2005, Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing began serving wounded military service members at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Virginia. The program provides basic fly fishing, tying, casting and rod building classes to Vets ranging from beginners who have never fished before to those with prior fly fishing and tying experience. All fly fishing and tying equipment, as well as both one day and multi-day fishing trips, are provided to the participants at no cost.

“COPHW strives to effectively serve the deserving past and present members of our armed forces who have made great sacrifices in the service of our nation,” COPHW Director Greg Ford said. The program is designed to assist and support active military service personnel and Veterans through fly fishing and associated activities including education and outings.

“COPHW currently meets every Friday at 1pm to tie flies, and tell lies,” said Ford. “We have other fly-tying groups getting started in Madras and Prineville. We host numerous events throughout the year, including events in Warm Springs and at The Lake of the Dunes in Summer Lake.”

In 2010, COPHW started slow but has gradually grown to the strong base it is today. “We are using anyone with fly fishing experience for mentors, but the people using the program are some of our best teachers,” said COPHW President Brad Emery. “Mostly we run this program as a one-on-one, or [within]small groups with trips being impromptu gatherings, to further that feeling.”

Knowledge and recognition is coming from word of mouth by Vets and some of the COPHW active members. “This area is very Veteran oriented and the support we receive is most of the reason for our success,” added Emery.

COPHW is unique in that volunteers teach classes on an on-going, long term basis. It is much more than a one day fishing trip. For many participants the socialization and camaraderie of the classes are just as important as the fishing outings.

COPHW is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. They receive no government funding and are dependent upon tax-deductible, charitable donations and the help of numerous volunteers to meet the educational, equipment, transportation and related needs of its participants.

Fly tying classes start at 1300 (1pm) every Friday at the Vet Center, 1645 NE Forbes Rd, Ste. 105, Bend. Greg Ford, 541-749-2112; Brad Emery 541-536-5799.


Joins Foundation Center’s National Network

Nonprofit organizations and other grantseekers in Central Oregon looking for funding sources now have access to a valuable new collection of resources at Deschutes Public Library, which has become a Funding Information Network partner with the Foundation Center of New York.

Funding Information Network [FIN] partners provide under-resourced and underserved populations in need of vital information and training with tools they can use to become successful grantseekers. At locations throughout the country, FIN partners offer access free of charge to the Center’s detailed information on grantmakers and how to apply for grants. The Foundation Center’s core collection includes The Foundation Directory Online, profiling more than 100,000 U.S. grantmakers, Foundation Grants to Individuals Online, Philanthropy In/Sight, print directories and proposal writing guides. FIN partners also hold training sessions on how to effectively use these resources and identify potential funders.

Established in 1956, the Foundation Center is the nation’s leading authority on organized philanthropy, serving grantseekers, grantmakers, researchers, policymakers, the media and the general public. Thousands of people visit the Center’s web site each day and are served in its five regional learning centers and its national network of Cooperating Collections., 541-617-7080,




Happiness Is…A Wide Open Barn Door

by Dita Keith, Healing Reins Therapeutic Riding Center Executive Director

Enter our barn doors on any given day and feel the positive energy flow…fresh country air mingled with the engaging sounds and scents of living, breathing, four-legged beings waiting to greet riders. Add outgoing, professional staff, 125+ dedicated and nurturing weekly volunteers and a few handfuls of dust and the outcome is always the same…Healing Reins is that place that children and adults working to overcome disabilities and special needs just want to be.

We’re not a typical treatment setting in any way; which is exactly why it works. Through three core programs: Adaptive Riding, Equine-Facilitated Learning and Hippotherapy (physical therapy on horseback), we are able to meet myriad needs in an alternative and transformative educational environment, ultimately changing lives in the process.

Healing Reins offers the only professionally accredited program of this kind in all of Central Oregon. Our certified teaching staff partners with clients, caregivers, medical and mental health professionals to offer a unique team approach to healing and improved quality of life. Equine assisted therapies are recognized throughout the world and have proven to support traditional physical rehabilitation and psychotherapy treatments.

Seventy percent of our program participants are children and 65 percent of our total ridership is low-income and cannot afford to pay for services. Agencies referring clients include: KIDS Center, Greater Oregon Behavioral Health, Deschutes County Health Services, St. Charles Cancer Center, Central Oregon Down Syndrome Network, Alyce Hatch, Healing Bridge Physical Therapy and others. All our horses come from loving homes and are care-leased to us as service animals.

Every day we swing open our barn doors affords us the privilege to welcome new participants, families and caregivers seeking a happy place where dreams can be made into goals, and needs turned into accomplishments. Happiness is…to heal with horses.

Dita Keith, Healing Reins Therapeutic Riding Center Executive Director, 541-382-9410,,



Healthy Smiles for Central Oregon Kids

Did you know that Oregon’s kids have among the worst oral health in the nation? Poor oral health leads to trouble focusing at school, which results in poor attendance and performance. After all, it’s difficult to concentrate on learning when you’re distracted by pain.

Founded in 1998 by retired Bend dentist, Dr. H.M. Kemple, the mission of Kemple Memorial Children’s Dental Clinic is to eliminate pediatric oral disease and to ensure all Central Oregon children get the dental care they need to be happy and healthy. As a nonprofit, we are able to further Dr. Kemple’s vision by working with more than 70 dentists in Central Oregon whose volunteer in-kind treatments have totaled more than $4 million over the last 15 years.

We recognize that preventative education is key in promoting the oral health and overall well-being of children in our community. We offer several on-site preventative hygiene appointments, including cleaning, x-rays and risk assessments in our clinic, and refer children in need of restorative treatment to our volunteer dentists’ offices. In addition, we provided off-site services including parent education and free, high-quality dental screenings and sealant programs for all children ages 3-18 in schools and through community outreach organizations around the region.

Celebrating 15 years of service, Kemple Clinic has provided oral health education and services to more than 7500 kids, insured and uninsured alike. Thanks to financial support from local business and individuals, we are able to expand our reach and our services every year. And by focusing on early intervention and prevention, we can ensure Central Oregon’s kids have the happy smiles they deserve and healthy habits that will serve them well for a lifetime., 541-617-1653.




Safe Place from Abuse

Kids Intervention and Diagnostic Service (KIDS) Center offers a safe and caring environment for children to share their experiences of abuse, whether it is sexual, physical, neglect or witness to domestic violence.

Years ago, without a safe place to tell someone about their abuse, Central Oregon children had to retell their stories multiple times. All too often they told an adult who simply did not know what to do or how to respond.

Founded in 1994, KIDS Center works together with law enforcement, medical providers and social service agencies to create a supportive response to child abuse through a multi-disciplinary team approach. We also strive to lead the community in addressing the issue of child abuse and work regionally with our partners to educate, train and empower adults to protect children.

More than 800 children are helped by our services each year; the number equivalent to an average size elementary school. These are the same children we see in our neighborhood, in the grocery store, in the park and in our schools every day.

Together, we can help end child abuse for hundreds of children in Central Oregon. Each year, businesses big and small, show up for the kids in our community by supporting KIDS Center. This year corporate giving will equal nearly 18 percent of our total revenue. That is enough to provide 100 children with a comprehensive child abuse evaluation while also providing family support service that help parents better understand how to reduce life stressors and support their children through the healing process. Thank you to the many businesses who have joined KIDS Center in the effort to end child abuse one child at a time.

Robin Antonson at 541-383-5958.



What is KPOV?

KPOV 88.9 High Desert Community Radio is the only nonprofit radio station broadcasting from Bend. KPOV can be heard throughout Deschutes County and Prineville.

Going on-air in June 2005, KPOV is the creation of many community members who saw the need in central Oregon for a non-commercial radio station.

What does KPOV do that’s different?

As a community radio station, KPOV provides:

•    Content not found elsewhere on the radio dial


•    Citizens a forum to tell their own stories, to share experiences, and to create media


•    Local dialogue of civic affairs, the arts, the environment, and health issues through seven local talk shows, including The Point, on-air daily at 9am


•    A huge range of music genres not heard anywhere else on-air


•    Non-partisan coverage of political candidate debates


•    Live broadcast of local music festivals


•    Youth education program

How does the community interact with KPOV?

•    Over 70 dedicated volunteers produce and host over 40 music and talk radio shows


•    All community members are invited to produce a show, speak on-air about issues and support programming through membership


•    Local musicians get an opportunity to play their music on-air


•    Teens get hands-on experience creating media by honing their writing and speaking skills and producing and hosting Youth Radio Hour

How can I support community radio?

•    Start listening to KPOV 88.9 FM!


•    Become a member


•    Volunteer at the radio station, during membership drives, and at KPOV events


•    Become a business underwriter – financial support in return for on-air spots


•    Go online at and learn more. Check the schedule for music or talk that interests you


•    Follow KPOV on Facebook and Twitter or get our e-newsletter





Keeps Children Safe

by TIM RUSK, Executive Director at MountainStar

Imagine you are a baby living in a family facing 17 major challenges such as unemployment, poverty, homelessness and a lack of food. Your life is chaotic, unsafe and you have little hope of getting your needs met. Through MountainStar Family Relief Nursery, our community steps up to prevent abuse and neglect in children aged zero- to five-years who live with these challenges. This age group represents 48 percent of all child abuse victims statewide, and 60 percent of fatalities. MountainStar Family Relief Nursery is a local response to reducing child abuse—and its working.

At MountainStar, our mission is to keep children safe, parents successful and families together. Between our centers in Deschutes and Jefferson Counties, MountainStar will support 90 children in our therapeutic early childhood classrooms this year. These families receive 300 hours of direct services annually and a recent independent evaluation has shown that 95 percent of these children avoid foster care. In the coming year we will serve an additional 185 children in these two counties through our Safety Net Program that includes home visits and parent coaching, referrals to community resources, and respite care on Fridays. Families can also receive mental health services at MountainStar.

Raising a small child is challenging under the best conditions and stressful living situations affect a parent’s ability to effectively parent their children. We tailor our support to meet the needs of a child and their family and work with parents’ strengths in order to create change. These families love their children and want the best for them but expend all of their energy on survival.

Help MountainStar support families and children in your community; come in for a tour, give your time as a volunteer or donate.




Partners with Nonprofits

NAO is proud to partner with nonprofit leaders, businesses and policy makers in Central Oregon to ensure that nonprofits are visible, valued and better able to serve the needs of Central Oregon. As the sector-wide network representing all Oregon nonprofits, the Nonprofit Association of Oregon (NAO) works across the state to strengthen and connect nonprofit leaders, organizations and the sector as a whole.

We collaborate with a local advisory committee to plan and produce a series of professional development and peer networking events designed specifically to meet the capacity building needs of nonprofits in Central Oregon. Our 2013/14 series includes six 90-minute sessions incorporating best practices on topics including organizational development, fundraising, impact evaluation and marketing. Look for our schedule in this publication or online at

In addition to NAO’s professional development training series, we offer other valuable services to Central Oregon nonprofits including consultancies, interim executive placements and executive searches to maximize organizational effectiveness and impact by improving capacity and leadership. Our Nonprofit Helpline offers telephone assistance and robust online resources on starting a nonprofit, board governance, fundraising and financial management—all at no cost.

NAO provides a strong collective voice for Oregon nonprofits to advance critical policy issues affecting the nonprofit sector in our state. Recent work included advocacy on the state and federal levels to protect the charitable giving tax incentive.

NAO membership—as a nonprofit or business affiliate—allows you to become part of our statewide network. Members gain access to a wide range of benefits including advocacy efforts and discounts on a variety of programs and services. For more information visit our website at

Join with us in celebrating the good work of Central Oregon’s nonprofits. Strong nonprofits make strong, vibrant communities across Oregon.

Nonprofit Association of Oregon, McKenna Lebens, Development & Communications Coordinator, 503-239-4001, ext. 126,




Integrated Employment

The Opportunity Foundation of Central Oregon opened the first and only school serving children with disabilities in Central Oregon nearly 50 years ago. When state institutions closed, we worked to welcome individuals into neighborhood homes, and we continue to support them there.

Supported employment is a new national and state priority with the goal of supporting individuals experiencing disability in finding, maintaining and flourishing in community based integrated and inclusive employment. Many of these individuals currently work in facility based employment supported by Rehabilitation Agencies, such as the Opportunity Foundation.

Just as we embraced full inclusion for children with disabilities in schools, and welcomed new neighbors experiencing disabilities into our communities, we are now continuing our journey toward full community participation by means of supporting individuals through integrated employment in the community. Encouraging exploration of this new world and supporting each unique journey is what supported employment is all about.

This excellent work can only be done in continuing partnership with our supportive community. Employers seeking phenomenal employees, we are here for you. The Opportunity Foundation invites all local businesses and individuals to join us on our continuing journey founded on the idea of possibility and not disability. Donate and shop at our thrift stores in Bend, Madras and Redmond while supporting this critical community service.





Less Is More

by DENISE ROWCROFT, Rethink Waste Project Coordinator with The Environmental Center

Last year, after a New Year’s inspired run on de-cluttering my home, I learned that the less stuff I have, the less I have to organize. It’s certainly a work in progress, but it’s helping me be less attached to having, buying and storing so much stuff. This fall The Environmental Center’s Rethink Waste Project is focusing on that most elusive part of the “3 R’s”, reduce, through the “Less Is More” campaign.

Reducing waste at the individual level is based on our choices when shopping. Choosing bulk snacks instead of highly packaged convenience foods. Choosing a product that has recyclable packaging over one that gets tossed. Choosing a durable product that going to last, instead of one that is cheaper but unrepairable and destined to break within six months. Choosing to buy something at all.

Do I want it? Sure! Do need it? That can be a tough one. If you actually ask that question to yourself when making purchases, more often than not you find you really don’t. And with each purchase you make you spend money, money that you work hard to earn, maybe in lieu of free time with friends and family and doing things that make you feel connected. So you buy more stuff. We’re stuck in a never ending cycle of consuming and it’s affecting the earth in a big way.

For every item we buy, most of the impacts to our environment are upstream (when it’s being made, packaged and shipped for instance) out of our sight. For a great visual on this, check out the After 20 minutes your habits will be changed for the better.

Less stuff can mean more space. Less packaging can mean more product. Less shopping can mean more time. “Less Is More” is about rethinking the accumulation of stuff in our lives, looking for better options and finding opportunities to seek out connection over consumption. Stay tuned for the Rethink Waste Project to organize Central Oregon’s first Repair Café, an event where people come together in an attempt to learn how to repair their items instead of simply replacing them.

What is your “Less Is More?”, 541-385-6908 x14.




Encouraging Community Enrichment & Economic Development Through The Arts

by ROLAND WHITE CBN Feature Writer

Over 10 years ago Kathy Deggendorfer and her mother brainstormed new ideas for ways to stimulate the arts and creativity in the community of Sisters. Deggendorfer recalls, “Several years ago my mom, Gert Boyle, and I began discussing the idea of creating a foundation. The focus of the foundation would be to help celebrate art and creativity.

Gert Boyle is chair of one of Oregon’s best known companies, Columbia Sportswear Company, that manufactures and distributes outerwear and sportswear.

“One of mom’s sayings is, “It is better to give with a warm hand than a cold one.” “In that spirit, she has funded and I direct The Roundhouse Foundation.”

Deggendorfer is no stranger to the arts being a successful artist herself with a studio in Sisters. She has also served on the boards of the Sisters Folk Festival and Arts Central, and as an advisor to Caldera. She is also a member of the Oregon Community Foundation’s Leadership Council for Central Oregon and is a board member for Oregon Cultural Trust.

As explained on their website, “The Roundhouse Foundation was established in Sisters in October 2002 to encourage community enrichment and economic development through the arts. The Roundhouse Foundation focuses its funding on collaborative, community projects that celebrate the arts and heighten community awareness and appreciation for the arts in its many aspects.”

Says Deggendorfer, “Our desire is to begin immediately to focus on supporting ideas and projects that create positive change. We are interested in projects that celebrate artists as positive role models and mentors for children and as important forces in creating a new economy for the Central Oregon region, an economy driven by the arts.”

The Roundhouse Foundation started in 2002 making its first grant of $12,000. The Foundation is scheduled to make approximately $300,000 funding grants in 2013 showing a steady rise over the years in total funding dollars.

Recently in April of this year it awarded a $15,000 grant to Caldera in Sunriver. “This generous grant allows Caldera to contribute to arts training for Oregon teachers, strengthen relationships with its partner schools, and formalize its own professional development activities,” said Caldera’s Executive Director Tricia Snell.

In Sisters it has been a strong supporter of the (FAN) Family Access Network. “Roundhouse Foundation is incredibly generous in their continued support of FAN in the Sisters community. We appreciate their dedication to our most needy families, especially during our current economic climate,” Kristi Miller, FAN foundation chair.

“We try to build leverage in our grant funding. When our grants involve several groups, community volunteers and cooperation from other’s it is worth much more than the dollars funded and the result is greater than each of the parts everyone plays,” Deggendorfer adds.

“The Roundhouse grants are more than just the money. By bringing in the artists, the community, the city, the schools, the families and kids, a project becomes a community success far exceeding the value of the grant. A community needs participation, not just money to make things happen, and when it does the money part ends up being small and the community part is huge,” concludes Deggendorfer.




Healing Environment

Founded in 2006, The Shepherd’s House strives to feed the hungry and to shelter the homeless, but our deeper aim is to walk alongside people to effectively address the life-controlling issues that perpetuate the long-term cycles of pain

and homelessness.

Our goal at The Shepherd’s House is to be a safe and healing environment where the Grace and Truth of Jesus flows freely, transforming the hearts and lives of people from the inside out.

Some of the exciting things happening at The Shepherd’s House in 2013:

•    We consistently have 28 men in our long-term discipleship and habilitation program and very often a waiting list.


•    We are currently partnering with St. Charles, COCC, and other members of the community in designing and building a commercial kitchen so we can continue to prepare over 3,000 meals per month and provide other culinary opportunities at The Shepherd’s House.


•    Right now, we can only shelter and provide a long term program for men. The reality is that women and children also need shelter, but more importantly, they need help in breaking the long-term cycles of pain and homelessness.

The community around us needs more than what The Shepherd’s House can currently offer today. It is our desire to not only walk alongside men to effectively see their lives changed, but also to bring life change to women and children who are in need in Central Oregon.

The Shepherd’s House, 541-388-2096, 1854 NE Division St, Bend.




Many Facets Make a Community Jewel Shine

by STEVE MAGIDSON for Tower Theatre

A vibrant community, such as Central Oregon, is like a multi-faceted jewel. While each facet of the community reflects its own “shining light,” collectively they create brilliance brighter than the sum of the facets.

One such facet in our community’s shining light is the nonprofit Tower Theatre Foundation, whose mission is “to be Central Oregon’s leading performing arts organization, providing cultural and educational programs that make essential contributions to the region’s lifestyle and strength of community.” By reaching a broad and diverse mixture of community facets, the Tower helps shape and lead the cultural, entertainment and performing arts landscape of Central Oregon.

For example, our LessonPLAN program, directed at the community’s youth, is designed to enhance education and engage our children’s minds while enriching their hearts. The program reaches thousands of students every year, both at the Tower and at individual schools, with diverse programs such as the Shangri-La Chinese Acrobats, Are You My Mother, Simon Wiesenthal: The Conscience of the Holocaust, Thomas Edison: Inventor, Lecturer, and Prankster and many others. And, the Stover Fund has provided needed financial support for organizations including Bend Parks and Rec, Deschutes Public Library for Story Stars and the Education Foundation of Bend-La Pine Schools for Trivia Bee.

With over 170 events in the past year (including those of the Tower Theatre Foundation as well as over 40 other nonprofit and community organizations), the Tower reaches a broad cross-section of Central Oregon’s population. From concerts by George Winston, Brandi Carlisle, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, to record-setting community theatre productions Spamalot, Chicago, The Producers, 1776 to movies including the BendFilm Festival, the International Fly Fishing Festival, The Big Lebowski, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, to community-building events including the Bend Venture Conference, Tom McCall Centennial Lecture, The Nature of Words, and more, there truly is something for everyone.

And, as “Bend’s Living Room,” who can forget the Tower opening its doors as the centerpiece of The Parade of Olympians Honoring Ashton Eaton.

The question, you may ask, is how is all of this accomplished? The answer is the Tower Theatre Foundation, the nonprofit that owns and operates the renovated venue. Through memberships, foundations and grants, sponsorships, corporate support and individual donations, the Foundation uses a variety of funding sources to ensure it remains on solid financial footing, both now and in the future.

As an avid arts enthusiast and a proud member of the Tower Theatre Foundation’s board of directors, when parents tell me that LessonPLAN has been transformative for their children, when patrons tell me the Tower’s variety of programming has made it one of their favorite places in town, when businesses tell me their numbers go up on show nights, I am reminded that the Tower’s light shines brightly in the community.




Help for the Whole Community

For more than 60 years, United Way of Deschutes County has been bringing people together to change lives for the better and, in the process, strengthening our community. Since it was founded in 1952 the organization has raised more than 25 million dollars and invested those contributions in a host of agencies and programs that address some of our community’s most pressing human needs.

Currently there are 26 funded partner agencies helping individuals and families meet such basic needs as food and shelter, keeping children and families safe from violence and abuse, helping kids get a great start in life and keeping youth on track for success.

Volunteers representing all segments of our community decide how much money to distribute to each agency. They work together to review agency finances, work plans and evaluate program success. This annual review process ensures that every dollar is spent wisely. Nearly one in three local residents benefit from United Way funded services every year.

Thanks to Corporate Cornerstone partner companies, who direct their contributions to meeting United Way’s overhead expenses, more of every dollar given by individuals goes directly to provide essential programs and services to those needing a helping hand.

In addition to raising funds, United Way of Deschutes County researches community conditions to identify emerging needs and works behind the scenes to coordinate services and bring groups and resources together to find long-term solutions to issues affecting our community. The organization also coordinates the annual Days of Caring event, two days when agencies and volunteers come together to complete hands on projects at local nonprofit agencies. It also manages Central Oregon 2-1-1 and distributes FamilyWize prescription discount cards. Through Take Credit, a volunteer tax preparation assistance program, United Way helped more than 1,000 households file their taxes and returned $1.25M in refunds to the community.



If You Were the ONLY NONPROFIT You’d Be the Best……..



But, there are 1.1 million 501(c)(3)’s in this country so how do you know if you are the best? Even if you are the best, could you be better? What would it look like if you were better? What do you need to do to be better?

To be a successful nonprofit means more than having the ability to raise money. Successful also means having the ability to demonstrate effectiveness and improving upon it.

The 4 fundamentals to a successful nonprofit:

•    Financial Sustainability

•    Effectiveness of Management

•    Community Engagement

•    Program Performance

How are you doing with all these? How does your organization compare to other organizations doing the same programs? How is your organization doing compared to prior years and how much better do you want to be?

If you can measure it, you can manage it

Tattoo this on your forehead. For-profits make a profit, nonprofits make a difference. So how do you measure the impact you are making on your community? To get answers to all these questions you need to establish common metrics that gauge relative performance. This is called benchmarking; the systematic, continuous process of measuring and comparing an organization’s business processes against leaders in your field (external) as well as within your organization (internal) to gain insights that will help the organization take action to improve its performance. The term was first established by land surveyors who needed to mark a fixed reference point in order to measure distances. To benchmark, you need to first establish a point of reference known as a baseline, your actual or current level of results for a particular performance measure. The benchmark is your desired level of results for a particular performance measure.

Why do Benchmarking

The potential of benchmarking is tremendous. Benchmarking can help your organization stimulate innovation, increase the impact of your mission, reduce expenses, uncover hidden weaknesses, inspire staff and board members, impress funders, attract board members, improve your public face and, help to focus more on the mission of your organization.

Getting Started

•    Assess whether your organization is ready and willing to undertake benchmarking. Does your organization really want to improve or continue to just survive?

•    Identify what you want to improve. The key is to fix the right thing. Perhaps your organization wants to get more grants, have more money in the bank at the end of each month, grow your revenues by not only keeping your current donors but obtaining additional donors or perhaps you identify another need in your community and want to add a new program. Board member turnover and attendance at meetings may also need improvement.

•    Form a benchmarking team to take charge, gather resources, write the benchmark plan and determine deliverables of the plan.

•    Don’t try to measure everything! Start with some simple goals. Go for the low-hanging fruit instead of drinking from a fire hose. For outcomes that are more concrete and measurable start with the financial information. Go for the program outcomes once you get the hang of benchmarking. Make sure your financial information is credible. Inaccurate financial information will cause you to merely spin your wheels. As Ronald Reagan said, “trust by verify.”

But we’re too small to undertake Benchmarking

There is no whining in the nonprofit arena. Benchmarking doesn’t have to be complex, time-intensive or a waste of money doing the wrong thing.

•    Use volunteers within your organization and outside such as SCORE

•    Use your Board to spearhead the benchmark efforts

•    Do benchmarking instead of your strategic plan which usually has the same priorities and goals but benchmarking will produce greater precision measures

•    Try focusing on improving just one thing

•    Collaborate with peers

•    Write a planning or capacity building grant to fund the benchmarking process

•    Focus on improving management to eventually increase your impact

The work of nonprofits is critical to the wellbeing of communities. Get started today on elevating your nonprofit and making it thrive. Society needs you.

Chris Telfer CPA,, 109 NW Greenwood Ave., Bend. 541-389-3310,


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