October 13, 2011; Source: WBOY | There are 36 state nonprofit association members of the National Council of Nonprofits. That number might increase by one if the effort underway in West Virginia gels. We think every state needs a nonprofit association to speak for its nonprofit sector in the state capitol and to provide a variety of supports and services such as capacity-building training.

WBOY reports that the Mountain State’s nonprofits have been toying with the idea of forming an association for some 30 years. Now, sparked by the West Virginia Grantmakers Association (WVGA) and the West Virginia Community Development Hub, that’s beginning to happen. The Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation has funded the drafting of business plan by a Silver Spring, Maryland consultant.

We are impressed by the WVGA’s support of the creation of infrastructure that will strengthen its nonprofit grantees. Too often, in our experience, foundations act like they have no role to play in providing support and sustenance—beyond funding and grant monitoring—to the nonprofit sector. The WVGA has always been distinctive in seeing its role as connecting everyone, both foundations and nonprofits.

Maybe it is because of where the WVGA calls home. West Virginia has long been challenged by tough economic conditions as well as the nationwide problem of paltry support for rural communities from both the government and philanthropic sectors. Maybe it is also because West Virginia has a consistent foundation champion in the form of the Benedum Foundation, which believes in developing the philanthropic and nonprofit infrastructure. (This can also be seen in Alaska, for example, with the Rasmuson Foundation, which recognizes the importance to foundations of a strong nonprofit sector.) Our congratulations to this new and hopefully real nonprofit association and to the West Virginia foundation sector that sees its role as extending beyond those nonprofits that submit 990PFs.—Rick Cohen