Consultant Finds 'Life's Work' In Serving DC-Area Nonprofits
Nonprofits in the D.C. area, as they struggle during COVID-19, can turn to the Alliance for Nonprofits for an array of consulting services.
Brenda Alford, president and executive director of the Alliance for Nonprofits Inc., consults with community-based nonprofits and has seen demand for her services grow since the start of the pandemic. (Courtesy of Brenda Alford)
VIRGINIA/DC — Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic almost two years ago, nonprofit organizations have struggled to sustain funding and reassess their priorities as certain services have become more in demand during the crisis.
Many nonprofits were already dealing with cash flow before the pandemic hit in March 2020. COVID-19 has led to many nonprofit groups getting creative with how to operate with fewer resources and less staff.
In the D.C. area, nonprofit groups have an organization at the ready to help them through these tough times so that they can continue serving vulnerable populations and communities in need.
Brenda Alford has forged a successful career in both the private and public sectors by developing a strong understanding of fundraising and organization-building and then sharing that information with clients.
In her current position as president and executive director of the Falls Church-based Alliance for Nonprofits Inc., Alford offers a wide range of services to community-based nonprofit organizations in the Washington, D.C. area, including programs designed to help groups meet their fiscal and performance goals.
"Our services have been more in demand since the start of the pandemic," Alford said in an interview with Patch.
Among its many services, the Alliance for Nonprofits conducts research for nonprofits and then provides them with the tools to pivot or reinvent themselves, if necessary, to help them keep going or expand their services.
"We help nonprofit organizations to succeed," Alford said.
The Alliance for Nonprofits, for example, is working with its clients during the pandemic on after-school programs by reviewing how programs in other parts of the country make use of virtual techniques to help youth. The Alliance takes what it learns from other cities to advise its clients on virtual after-school activities in the D.C. area.
"One of our goals with client organizations is to broaden their thinking and operations," she said. "If a child faces a problem, a parent or grandparent can often assist with intervention and solutions. Many problems are family issues, not just those exhibited with the child."
Having parent sessions become a component of after-school programs provides support that makes the programs even better at supporting young people, noted Alford, similar to how Parent Teacher Associations can make schools stronger and more accountable to the students' educational achievement.
Alford worked in the federal government at two different times in her career, totaling 15 years. After her first stint in government, she left to start a for-profit business where her nonprofit clients created the greatest reward for her in terms of their community impact, she said.
After leaving from her second stint in government, Alford decided to dedicate herself to creating a social enterprise venture that eventually evolved into the Alliance for Nonprofits in 2018. "I have finally found my life's work using all the skills from my total career," she said.
The Alliance, a member of the Northern Virginia Black Chamber of Commerce, offers consulting services to a wide range of nonprofit groups in the D.C. metro area, including organizations that help youth, the homeless population, or pregnant mothers.
Earlier in her career, Alford served as president and director of the Association of African American Women Business Owners, a national trade association founded in 1988 that had chapters across the East Coast.
In that position, she managed training programs for business owners, helped the business owners obtain federal contracts, and worked on expanding the profile of the association's members.
Today, as someone who has spent a large part of her career advising human service nonprofits, Alford encourages residents to give back to their communities by supporting nonprofits that do important work, whether it is through volunteering their time or donating money.
"People should find a nonprofit that aligns with their strengths or interests," Alford said. "If you can't find one, call me and I can find one for you."
Visit the Alliance for Nonprofits website to learn how it can help your nonprofit organization.