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Next ConFab:  September of 2015.

March 2015, Getting Our Act (further) Together

Ann Shulman offered a training session on More Effective, More Efficient — capacity building and planning. (mirroring our Spring 2015 grants round) An interactive decision-making module offered hands-on skills that was simple but revelatory.  Overheard at the reception afterward: “I’ll use that information starting tomorrow… and every day thereafter.  That was great!”

This ConFab also presented 4 West Marin Updates, by people doing work we all should know about.

Steve Siegel of Coastal Health Alliance on advances in serving their 6000 clients.

Kim Thompson of our local land trust, CLAM, on the Coast Guard Station’s promising potential to be affordable housing.

Maria Niggle, Socorro Romo and Bonny White on impressive and welcome progress in our Latino Engagement efforts.

Julie Cassel on a pilot project Giving Through Youth, where  students will decide where to grant $1000 to a local non-profit.  Inspired donor Richard Kirschman offered up another $1000 for each of the 2 classrooms in the project — making his gift total $4000 and inspire others to join in.

Our 6th ConFab:   September 2014, The Dance Palace in Point Reyes Station

Grantsmanship:  the art of the perfect proposal

Speakers Carol Friedman and Delia Reid outlined critical strategies for researching, preparing and submitting a grant.

Representatives from over 30 non-profit organizations, some 45 attendees, joined the session and stayed for the networking reception afterwards.  From south in Bolinas up through Tomales, we had a wide range of interests and experience on hand.

Our April 3 ConFab a success:  

Evaluating programs, personnel and communicating the results.

Presenters included Heather Johnson of Marin Community Foundation

Wendy Todd, formerly of Marin Community Foundation and

Kay McMahon, HR Consultant

This was a well-attended event, with a lively question and answer session, and active networking at the reception.

See our Spring 2014 Update for more details.One of the West Marin Fund’s most important — and popular — services is the shared learning, skill building “ConFabs” we offer our local nonprofits for free, the subjects of which are based on requests from the field.  Past ones have included:

March 2015

The West Marin Fund hosted its 7th ConFab on March 25th, at the Dance Palace Community Center in Point Reyes Station.

Participants came from up and down coastal Marin, and enjoyed a terrific tutorial from Ann Shulman of Philanthropy Associates — on building capacity, and Getting Our Act (further) Together.  She led an interactive session on Decision Making that had people saying “I’ll use lessons from that tomorrow and every day thereafter”, and “Our board is ripe for that teaching, right now.”   With real tools to take away, it was a perfect short session that preceded updates on some key activities in our region.

Ann Shulman of Philanthropy Associates led a concise skill-building exercise on Decision Making... harder than we think!
Ann Shulman of Philanthropy Associates led a concise skill-building exercise on Decision Making… harder than we think!

Coastal Health Alliance’s Steve Siegel talked about the services it provides over 6000 clients in its 3 clinics. No longer asking “what’s the matter with you?” but “what matters to you?” is shifting the focus of health care to preventive strategies with high levels of compliance  — and healthier clients.

SS at COnF 7

Kim Thompson of CLAM offered an update on the Point Reyes Coast Guard Station’s potential to become affordable housing. It’s a project with wide community support, and now needs political support to get turned over to the County, and then to CLAM and its development partners, to become reality.

Latino Engagement is emerging as one of our proudest community activities:  The Fund is part of a collaborative effort to invite, train and welcome Latino leadership in our communities.  Maria Niggle of the West Marin Collaborative, Socorro Romo of West Marin Community Services, and Bonny White of the Point Reyes Library gave an update on recent activities that was both heartwarming and promising.

Maria Niggle, Socorro Romo and Bonny White describe impressive new Latino Engagement efforts.
Maria Niggle, Socorro Romo and Bonny White describe impressive new Latino Engagement efforts.

Julie Cassel, 8th grade teacher at West Marin School, introduced our new pilot project Giving Through Youth.  Her students are exploring community needs and will identify non-profits that would address that need. Then they’ll write a proposal to West Marin Fund for $1000. to give to a non-profit for its work.   Donor/idea-generator Richard Kirschman stood and offered to support TWO classrooms at $2000. each … a great boost to students who find this project “Awesome!!”.  Colin Williams of Nicasio School will lead his classroom of 6th, 7th and 8th graders in a parallel project. We can’t wait to report on their decisions.  Young philanthropists of West Marin!  New donors are invited for our next round in Autumn of 2015.

Julie Cassel introduces the Giving Through Youth project at West Marin and Nicasio schools
Julie Cassel introduces the Giving Through Youth project at West Marin and Nicasio schools


StuArt Chapman, Ian MacLaird and Richard Kirschman
StuArt Chapman, Ian MacLaird and Richard Kirschman
 Judith Shaw and (former ConFab instructor) lawyer Tom Silk
Judith Shaw and (former ConFab instructor) lawyer Tom Silk

 April 2014

ConFab #5 was held April 3 at the Dance Palace, with over 50 people in attendance. Our presenters gave concise and informed presentations on Evaluations:  your programs, your staff — and how to report your findings to others.  Heather Johnson, Evaluations Officer at the Marin Community Foundation; Wendy Todd, consultant and former Program Director for Health and Aging at Marin Community Foundation; and Kay McMahon, a West Marin consultant on HR issues and professional coaching each did a great job at outlining basic needs:  capture good data, get clarity about the audience you’re serving, and create clear expectations and communication with staff at all levels.  Each speaker had hand-outs and web resources for further learning.

We surveyed the crowd for issues they’d prioritize for upcoming ConFabs.  While the list was long, it included seminars on Grant-seeking, Volunteers, more Board Management, Succession Planning, a deeper dive into Evaluations, and a look at local demographics.

This latter was also a request for better data on West Marin demographics in general. The Fund will seek opportunities to find and compile information specific to our region, with help from the Marin Community Foundation’s rich directory of resources.

A big YES answered the questions — would you use a circuit rider on information technology?  on grant writing?  The West Marin Fund will explore this as a service to local non-profits.

October 2013

Over 50 representatives of West Marin nonprofit organizations gathered on October 16 at the Dance Palace under the aegis of the West Marin Fund (WMF) for a ConFab on Nonprofit Law. Attorney and nationally recognized expert Tom Silk described the legal responsibilities of nonprofit boards in regard to fiduciary duties, commercial activities, conflict of interest policies, and more. Tom’s highly useful overview of these issues can be downloaded here: Silk on NONPROFIT LAW 101 .

“Nonprofit law can be very opaque for people working in nonprofit organizations,” said WMF board chair Harriet Moss. “Having an expert in the field come to West Marin gives all of us the advantage of his knowledge and expertise—a great benefit to our nonprofit community.”

Jim Grant, who joined the Inverness Association board of directors a year ago, said he really appreciated Silk’s presentation, “I was a corporate guy before I retired and joined the IA, so I especially appreciated the idea of keeping employees fully informed.”

Ann Emanuels, president of the Dance Palace board of directors, was enthusiastic. “To a certain extent, we’re reinventing the wheel in our individual organizations. It’s a huge help from WMF to bring us all together for these types of gatherings. We can learn from one another, too. It strengthens and energizes all of us.”

The seminar was followed by a wine and cheese reception for conviviality… networking.

Representatives from local organizations and businesses sign in at the West Marin Fund ConFab on nonprofit law. Left to right: Meg Linden; Martha Howard; Ann Emanuels; Kathryn Lino

Representatives from local organizations and businesses sign in at the West Marin Fund ConFab on nonprofit law. Left to right: Meg Linden; Martha Howard; Ann Emanuels; Kathryn Lino


A full house for shared learning

A full house for shared learning

May 2013

The West Marin Fund hosted an afternoon of two simultaneous workshops followed by a networking reception – another chance to learn and connect.

Workshop 1  Creating a Smart Phone Video: Energizing websites and Facebook pages in 10 minutes flat.  Allen Bronstein, award-winning producer/director offered a tutorial about why and how, with hands-on experience…and a competition down the road!  (Fact: Websites without videos hold visitors about 48 seconds.  WITH video:  6 minutes!)

Workshop 2 What Every Board Member Should Know to Serve a Non-Profit Well  Consultant Carol Friedman, in a new version of her last acclaimed session, helped board members better understand their roles and responsibilities and how they can most effectively support their staff and organization.

Plus a reception afterwards where over 50 people gathered to meet, greet, and share stories, wine and snacks.

December 2012

The West Marin Fund hosted two concurrent workshops and a rousing holiday party, with 50 people attending. The workshops were:

The Role of a Non-Profit Board of Directors.  West Marin consultant and long-time non-profit Executive Director Carol Friedman outlined the basics and tapped her own deep experience, as well as answered specific needs of the audience.

Using Facebook as a Tool for Fundraising and Outreach.  Brain van Weele, Director of Philanthropic Planning at Marin Community Foundation, hosts a Facebook page for a small non-profit he serves. He has become wildly enthusiastic about this medium and offered case studies, answered questions, and brought a show-and-tell success story.

August 2012

The West Marin Fund held a two-hour workshop on “Enhancing Nonprofit Effectiveness with Information Technology,” with 45 participants from over 25 West Marin non-profits in attendance.  Noted IT expert John Levy (author of Get Out of the Way: How to manage Development of Timely, Innovative, and Relevant Products) covered a broad variety of IT topics relevant to the audience.  John is a management consultant to high-tech organizations, with over 30 years of experience in IT – including at Quantum, Apple, Tandem Computers and Digital Equipment – and the information he imparted was extremely well-received.

For more information, contact the Fund directly at