Nonprofit coffee hour

Nonprofit directors and representatives meet for the monthly nonprofit coffee hour at the Idaho Falls Habitat for Humanity ReStore on Friday.

The meeting room on the second floor of the Idaho Falls Habitat for Humanity ReStore was filled to capacity Friday morning.

It was the store's turn to host the monthly coffee hour attended by the members of the Idaho Falls Nonprofit Community. More than a dozen executive directors and representatives were at Friday's meeting to share the fundraisers they were working on for the holiday season and support each other in their efforts to help the community.

"We could all be competing for the same dollars. But isn't it better to work together?" Habitat for Humanity executive director Karen Lansing said.

For more than five years, members of the nonprofits met to get help with projects in the short term and schedule future fundraisers. Natalie Hebard from the College of Eastern Idaho Foundation and Kathy Baker from the Museum of Idaho currently lead the group and manage a joint calendar that helps keep the groups from holding major events at the same time.

Nonprofits as varied as the Idaho Falls Community Food Basket, the Idaho Falls Arts Council, Snake River Animal Shelter and the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center are regular attendees to the meetings. Friday's meeting also included business representatives from Thrivent Financial and Idaho National Laboratory, which frequently partnered with and donated to the city's nonprofits.

"There's the warm and fuzzy side of nonprofits that make people want to donate. But the bottom line is that we are businesses and we have to approach our planning like a business," said Teena McBride, director of the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center.

Much of the December meeting was taken up with discussions of a planned trip to a tiny homes community in Texas next spring. Lansing has already recruited six representatives from local nonprofits to make the trip and hoped to find ideas to help them create their own tiny homes for families in need.

Friday's meeting was also attended by Jonny Fisher, who recently started the ELF Project in Pocatello. Hebard invited him to attend the coffee hour because he was seeking advice on how to harness the generosity of his community in the same way the Idaho Falls nonprofits have.

"I wanted him to see the camaraderie in our area and I wanted him to know he can pick up the phone and talk to us," Hebard said.

The January meeting will be hosted by the Idaho Falls Symphony.

Brennen is the main education reporter for the Post Register. Contact him with news tips at 208-542-6711.