Pasadena's Vaunted Nonprofits Get Helping Boost as Sea Changes Buffet Philanthropic Organizations

Published : Tuesday, September 10, 2019 | 4:58 AM

[Updated] Pasadena has a rich history of philanthropy, a social fabric laced with nonprofits, but faces contemporary challenges to maintaining that charitable tradition, challenges associated with economic and generational forces of transformation.

From her vantage point focused on the operational needs of local nonprofits, Jericho Road Pasadena Executive Director Melanie Goodyear sees the challenges.

“There are lots of wonderful nonprofits doing great work,” she explained as impetus for a workshop series her nonprofit is offering to strengthen other local philanthropies, “but they don’t necessarily have the funding for a financial officer or a marketing officer or a human resources manager.”

Jericho Road Pasadena Executive Director Melanie Goodyear

Jericho Road Pasadena, said Goodyear, hunts for volunteers with the needed skill sets and matches them up with nonprofits in just such a situation.

“All nonprofits have a volunteer board of directors, but in many cases board members have never been taught what they’re supposed to be doing as a director,” explained Goodyear. “So this is really the training that everybody who serves on a board, or would like to serve on a board, should get before they actually start working on one.”

Jericho Road does a good amount of board development work, which involves helping nonprofit organizations by “coaching” their boards, she explained. This involves some common sense querying about what skills are needed at the nonprofit, what board members are actually needed for, and how to go about recruiting for those tasks.

Jericho Road Pasadena continues, on Sept. 11, a series of workshops to help meet those challenges. Next up in the cycle of workshops, sponsored by the Tournament of Roses, is one addressing fundraising.

“Nonprofits are running up against fundraising issues,” said Goodyear. “We’re often trying to accomplish such lofty goals and we often have small budgets to pay for those big, world changing-goals. So fundraising is always a challenge.”

The other topics in the series include; strategic planning; governance; legal rules and responsibilities; and finances. “Anybody that comes to all four sessions would have a masters-level education in the nonprofit sector,” she ventured.

She called Pasadena an “incredibly philanthropic area,” but noted that work is necessary to keep it that way.

“We are typical of an affluent community in that we do have a lot of nonprofits,” said Goodyear, “though I do think that is changing as older Pasadenans either pass away or retire to other communities. Those kinds of long-term donors might be leaving and there are challenges associated with that.”

Inhabitants of the newer, high-rise apartments altering the city’s typically, low-lying skyline may not be the type to sprout long-term roots, she noted.

“I think really cultivating a community of volunteers or donors is getting more difficult and figuring that out is going to be a big challenge.”

One possibility for the future nonprofit is a transition away from philanthropy toward social enterprise, said Goodyear.

Social enterprise can be defined as the use of market-driving approaches to address social or environmental problems. Colloquially, it might be considered getting into the “business of good deeds.”

“I do think that some of Pasadena’s older organizations may still be doing great work, but it’s hard for them to kind of figure out what that looks like in the 21st century,” she opined.

One thing seems certain, the 21st century looks like social media.

“It is certainly one of the ways to attract people,” Goodyear noted, “and we’re finding the millennials are really cause-oriented rather than organization oriented.”

That means, she said, that 50 years ago people would become the member of a group for life, which meant a lifetime of steady, charitable giving to the same cause or causes.

“We’re finding millennials don’t work that way,” she observed. “They really want to work on the issues that are most pressing. And that may change from year to year.”

In their generational break from the established ways of being charitable, millennials get a bad rap, said Goodyear, mostly because the way they’re being charitable looks different.

“Millennials are actually doing tons of stuff,” stated Goodyear. “I think they are giving more, but more sporadic and less through ongoing, long-term commitments. And they are volunteering.”

That’s where the matchmaking service, Jericho Roads, primary offering, comes in, because it may be hard for a nonprofit with a quorum of septuagenarians on its board to know where the young blood is found.

“We can get millennials, or newer folks in the door and match them with the right organization,” said Goodyear.

To find out more about Jericho Road Pasadena’s September 11, 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. workshop at Pasadena Tournament Of Roses, 391 Orange Grove Boulevard, or to register, go to

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