Nonprofits Tackle Pandemic: Madeleine McGee

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Allan and Clare interview Madeleine McGee, President of TogetherSC:

Episode Notes:

  • TogetherSC, Allies for Good, is the statewide network of nonprofit leaders, has been around for 23 years, and is about 800-members strong
  • Philanthropic partners: United Way Association and the SC Grantmakers Group have come together for first time in the past year to work on the Census, and now re. coronavirus with weekly calls à 2 weekly calls convening now (nearly 150 people on those calls this week)
  • General advice: you have to believe that change can happen… for the good; “if you like problem solving, this is a great time to be doing our work;” reimagine in the face of change; stay positive; consider how we do it differently
  • For members: communications plan – Good Connections every other Monday, sharing a section on reimagining to share positive things people are doing, inspiration, resources (esp. from Business Partners); also sending weekly email; strengthening advocacy allies network (such as a letter to the Governor re. nonprofits’ needs and regulatory changes needed)
  • Surveying nonprofits’ needs to formulate responses
  • Literacy Association taking training online, as an example of a benefit for good happening at this time
  • “If we do this right, it really could help alleviate some of the underlying inequities… to wipe away the cover of what should have been in plain sight, which was immense inequities in rural communities” (citing Hurricane Hugo as an example)
  • Now exposing lack of internet in our rural households: 193,000 (10% of households in SC) have none or have insufficient internet
  • Role of the board: most EDs are in their roles because of their passion, not because they love management (80% have budgets under $750k) à opportunity for business people on boards to lend their expertise to help in scenario planning and thinking through options and making decisions; need to lean in and provide counseling, technical advice and crisis strategic thinking; crisis management could be rewarding for board
  • Recommend: weekly calls with board leaders
  • Boards: 1. Ask the Chair to “lean in” and customize the ask to each board member for how they can help; 2. Confirm their ability to engage; 3. Fully engage leadership pipeline now
  • Very important to have a good Treasurer now
  • Not the time for board to “play devil’s advocate” right now; responsible for “nurturing” EDs as part of their board role – ask insightful questions, bring cheer, partner with senior leadership
  • Advice re. foundation relationships: power dynamic between funders and nonprofits needs to be evaluated and put aside at this time – need to be able to make shifts in use of funds as needed in crisis, staying in close communication with funders; “speak honestly and get ahead of the curve”
  • Example of generosity: recent willingness of Business Partners to “lift the pay-wall,” helping pro-bono and helping nonprofits access resources and services, even if they can’t pay right now
  • Just concluded 3 days of Summit, talking about racial equity in early March – now is the time to make change to allow racial equity à in pandemic: “must find a way to continue to do this work through a racial equity lens, using resources to lift up and create opportunity”
  • Summit: Heather Hackman, “Facing Whiteness” – important speaker program to be shared soon; esp. good for the white majority to learn SC’s full history and our advantages in our systems

Madeliene McGee:

Madeleine has served South Carolina’s nonprofit community for more than 30 years. She’s led start-ups like the downtown revitalization program in Georgetown, SC, as well as established nonprofits like Coastal Community Foundation of SC that she ran for 10 years.

A fierce believer in the power of collaborative partnerships and a committed community advocate, Madeleine has also provided consulting services and worked for both local and state governments.

Since her appointment as president of Together SC in 2011, Madeleine has helped build South Carolina’s network of “Allies for Good” to effectively serve more than 800 member organizations and the state’s entire nonprofit sector.

Fueled by her lifelong passion for the work of South Carolina’s nonprofit community, she works closely with Together SC’s board of directors to provide services that strengthen the sector and the communities they serve.

Madeleine received her bachelor’s degree and MBA from the University of Virginia. She’s helped build Habitat houses and is a Big Sister with the Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring program. Madeleine is a native Charlestonian, a SC Liberty Fellow and served on the Town Council for Sullivan’s Island, where she resides with her husband, Bunky Wichmann, three amazing children, and two Boykin Spaniels.

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