Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Adviser from Forbes Funds Assists Nonprofits Executive-in-Residence Heralded as 'A Phenomenal Sounding Board'

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Adviser from Forbes Funds Assists Nonprofits Executive-in-Residence Heralded as 'A Phenomenal Sounding Board'

Article excerpt

The Great Recession sent more people to food pantries and forced many who had never before known economic hardship to seek assistance in the form of second-hand winter coats or help paying their utility bills.

To meet the surge in demand for such services after the economy soured in 2007, South Hills Interfaith Ministries expanded its program offerings and quadrupled its revenue base - from $320,000 to $1.3 million for the current fiscal year.

Now the Bethel Park nonprofit - which runs two food pantries and provides programs including financial education workshops, clothing drives and activities for refugee families - is evaluating whether to expand its physical space and exploring whether to launch a major capital campaign.

"A wrong decision could really set the organization back," said Jim Guffey, executive director. "We want to make sure whatever decisions we make will be sustainable."

So before the board of directors gathers next month for a retreat during which members will discuss strategic planning, Mr. Guffey has been bouncing ideas off Donald Goughler, a third-party expert with no ties to South Hills Interfaith Ministries or its board but who has a long history of management in the nonprofit sector.

Mr. Goughler in July became the first executive-in-residence at The Forbes Funds, an affiliate of the Pittsburgh Foundation that provides grants and programs to help nonprofits improve the bottom line and overall performance. South Hills Interfaith Ministries is one of 12 nonprofits in the region he is currently advising.

"He's a phenomenal sounding board," Mr. Guffey said. "He can give me an objective point of view . he's been there and done that."

Mr. Goughler, 69, retired in July from Family Services of Western Pennsylvania, where he spent 15 years as president and chief executive. Prior to that job, he was chief executive of Southwestern Pennsylvania Human Services for 11 years. He has managed about 500 employees at those nonprofits. He's also an adjunct professor at the University of Pittsburgh's School of Social Work, where he teaches graduate courses in supervision and finance.

The Jefferson Regional Hospital Foundation helps fund his position, and The Forbes Funds hopes to add another executive-in- residence by the end of the year, the organization said in a statement announcing Mr. Goughler's position.

He works three days a week and meets face to face with nonprofit executive directors facing specific strategic challenges in running their organizations. "I've probably made more mistakes than they ever will," said Mr. Goughler, who views his role as "helping the CEO build confidence."

"I see myself as a guest, rather than an expert . a guest with useful experience."

He prefers to visit nonprofits at their own sites rather than meet in his office. …

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