CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- In West Virginia, nonprofit jobs outnumber coal jobs, according to one nonprofit official. The state has more than 8,000 nonprofit groups, 1,400 in the Charleston area alone.
And a newly organized association hopes to unify the voice from those organizations.
The West Virginia Non-Profit Association held an informational meeting with members of the nonprofit community Thursday morning at Goodwill Industries in Charleston. The association is a collaboration of West Virginia Grantmakers and the West Virginia Community Development Hub.
The goal of the association is to strengthen philanthropy in West Virginia as well as focus on training and public policy, said Paul Daugherty, president of West Virginia Grantmakers.
Movement toward the association began two years ago when Grantmakers and the Community Development Hub received a grant from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation. The organizations determined that the state -- then one of only four states without a non-profit association -- needed one.
The association has a nine-member advisory board that's made up of three representatives from state nonprofits, as well as members from Grantmakers and the West Virginia Community Development Hub.
Michelle Foster, of the Kanawha Institute for Social Research and Action, is a member of the advisory board.
It's said that great is the enemy of good, Foster said.
"I believe by being a part of the nonprofit association, we can all go from good to great," Foster said. The association will come together to negotiate rates on resources and to have a voice in the legislature, she said.
"Yes, I'm busy but I think it was very important for me to be a part of this," Foster said.
John Ballengee, the executive director of United Way of Central West Virginia, also is a member of the advisory board. Ballengee told the crowd he agreed to join the effort because he did not think it would be successful.
"I said in the beginning it's not going to work," Ballengee said. He added that he did not believe "another oversight" organization was needed. But now, Ballengee said, he thinks it just might work. The association has a focus on nonprofit organizations that may be overlooked, he said.
"I'm involved because I said it wouldn't work but it's getting close to working," he said.
The association will focus on providing training on a regional platform as well as being a clearinghouse for benefits and services that strengthen individual organizations, Daugherty said.
WVNPA hopes to launch a website and a Facebook page this spring or summer, he said. Hiring an executive director also is on the agenda for the late summer or early fall.
WVNPA, which will be a dues-paying association, will be under the auspices of Grantmakers until it gets its own nonprofit status, Ballengee said.Reach Lori Kersey at lori.ker...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1240.