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How to effectively lead Charlotte's charities

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When the news of former United Way director Gloria Pace King's million-dollar retirement package broke, a ripple effect tore though Charlotte's nonprofit community, leaving leaders of other groups under scrutiny from donors who wanted to know if their donations were going to the needy — or into the pockets of executives.

People stopped giving and cast a keen eye on the executive directors, questioning if they had what it takes to be good stewards of money that had been given to help others -- and if they even knew how to successfully lead their organizations. That said, the fallout from the King debacle begged some important questions: Where do nonprofit leaders learn the skills necessary to guide their agency and reassure donors? And what programs and services exist in Charlotte to serve those whose business is service?

Locally, at least two groups -- Leadership Charlotte and Leading To Change -- reportedly function to teach individuals how to effectively lead charities in the Queen City.

Leadership Charlotte is a leadership development organization that works with people from the community to address community needs in a hands-on fashion. While Leadership Charlotte doesn't offer specific nonprofit training, executive director Elizabeth McKee said the 10-month training program offered focuses on existing and emerging leaders in Charlotte -- not just from nonprofits but all aspects of the business community.

According to the group's Web site, the mission of Leadership Charlotte is "to develop and enhance volunteer community leadership by providing a diverse group of emerging and existing leaders."

Leading to Change, on the other hand, is a training agency that tailors its teachings and training to the needs of specific organizations. Eric Rowles, president of Leading to Change, said his group is currently working with several nonprofits -- which he declined to name -- about how to frame the message of the good works they are doing.

"We're working with a lot of 'we don't want to restructure ourselves,' but we need to reframe the message so that folks know we're here, we're going to stay strong, we're going to stay alive and we're going to stay true and more importantly, we're doing the right thing," said Rowles.

For more information about efforts to aid local charities, visit www.charlottemissionpossible.org.

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