SHINE - which stands for Share. Help. Innovate. Nourish. Engage. – is a place for nonprofit practitioners and stakeholders to communicate, collaborate, and stay up to date on events and developments in the field, according to Allison Schultz, director of programs for Siena’s Center for Academic and Community Engagement.
“SHINE will support innovative community initiatives to address local needs using the region's assets and resources,” said Schultz. “We are excited to see how the platform will support community mobilization in the area.”
Local nonprofits can use SHINE to share best practices, as well as experiences with software, systems and vendors. They can discuss issues and trends, access a library with articles and policy papers, maintain a shared calendar of community events, and much more.
The platform launched earlier this month and more than 100 users are already registered. Schultz expects that number to increase quickly.
Team members at the Commission on Economic Empowerment (CEO) in Troy have already started using SHINE.
“As a large nonprofit, our management team is thrilled to have a platform to share ideas and improve communication with other organizations,” said Katherine Maciol, president of CEO. “In a climate of limited funding and great need in our communities, we need to work together to share resources and build partnerships. Through SHINE I have connected with other administrators and our management team has already made helpful connections with their peers in other nonprofits.”
Siena students who are part of NEXT - the Nonprofit EXcellence and Transformation business consulting program - have been developing the platform for two years, through initial research, focus groups, beta testing and a recent town hall-style presentation. The NEXT team presented the platform at Siena’s annual Engage for Change conference on May 23, where local nonprofit leaders met for presentations and problem-solving workshops.
Zachary Brimmer ’20, a health care management major, is the SHINE platform moderator.
“Developing this project has been a great experience,” he said. “I’ve been able to work with executive directors of nonprofits as well as the leadership team at SEFCU to develop the professional skills needed for my future career.”
Recent Siena graduate and SHINE team leader Gabby Guidice ’18, said, “Through working on this online communication platform, I’ve been able to gain ample real-world experience, which has helped prepare me for the career I’ll be starting soon. Our team has been able to make a larger impact on the Capital Region.”
The SHINE project was generously funded by the Albany-based State Employees Federal Credit Union (SEFCU). Kathy Lanni, SEFCU’s chief community officer, initially reached out to the Denver-based Nonprofit Centers Network consulting firm to see if there was a need in the Capital Region for such a platform. She then contacted NEXT to get the project started.
“Bringing SHINE to the Capital Region has been extremely important to SEFCU as we strive to change lives every day through partnerships with the many nonprofit organizations that positively impact our community,” said Lanni. “We are grateful that Siena College agreed that this portal would allow our community’s nonprofit leaders and their staff to share best practices, optimize resources, and bridge gaps in service. I am personally proud to see this vision become a reality with the extraordinary talent and commitment from the Siena College NEXT team.”
Schultz said that in addition to its practical benefits, SHINE can lead to enhanced problem-solving.
“There needs to be more collaboration among local nonprofits. One person, one organization cannot solve societal problems alone,” explained Schultz. “We need to break down the need to compete. SHINE is a low-risk step in the right direction.”
Jerry DeFrancisco ‘68, Siena’s distinguished civic leader in residence (and recent honorary degree recipient) commented on the need for SHINE:
“The nonprofit sector has grown over 20 percent in the past 10 years. With so many new organizations competing for resources and employees, the ability for nonprofits to collaborate has become essential, especially for smaller nonprofits,” he said. “SHINE provides an efficient and user-friendly platform that enables nonprofits to connect with one another, which will greatly enhance their sustainability and ability to serve their constituents.
“This has been great work, providing tremendous benefits to our regional nonprofits, and terrific learning and experience for our students,” he said.