Representatives of hundreds of nonprofits, from American Red Cross to the outdoor-based mentoring program Trekkers, attended the Maine Association of Nonprofits’ 25th anniversary celebration June 20 at the University of New England in Portland.

The program opened with Elton John’s “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” – a hit in 1994, the year Maine Association of Nonprofits was incorporated by 12 nonprofit leaders to share resources, learn from each other and raise a collective voice.

The first dues-paying member was the Southern Maine Area Agency on Aging (represented at the gala by its chief executive officer, Larry Gross), and by the end of 1994 there were over 100 members. Today the association has reached an all-time high of 1,130 members – a mix of nonprofits and consultants.

“Just look at what you started,” said the executive director, Jennifer Hutchins. “Together this network is educating and caring for our children, protecting Maine’s forests, waterways and coastline, supporting our most vulnerable citizens, creating affordable housing, sparking innovation in science and the arts, growing the economy and strengthening civility. The list goes on. We also create jobs, develop leaders, and invest significant financial and human resources to the state.”

Nonprofits employ one of every six workers in Maine and contribute about $12.6 billion annual to the economy through wages paid, purchases and professional services contracts.

“Our collective impact goes beyond an economic one,” Hutchins said. “It’s about ensuring that Maine and its people lead healthy, happy and fulfilling lives.”

The association supports nonprofits with training, peer connections, management advice, data reports and advocate work at the State House and in Washington, D.C.

“They strengthen every nonprofit in the state,” said a member, Wendy Betts of The Shadow Group. “It’s a beautiful symbiotic relationship, all working together to make the greater good better.”

“We rarely take time to celebrate all the people who have come together over those 25 years,” said the assistant director, Molly O’Connell, “but the more empowered nonprofits are, the more impact they can have.”

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at [email protected]


Comments are not available on this story.