The roots of the Lakeshore Nonprofit Alliance began in 2004 when a dozen executive directors in Holland/Zeeland began to meet regularly to discuss the challenges of running nonprofit organizations and to seek support from one another. These informal meetings led to the emergence of the Lakeshore Nonprofit Alliance in 2006 and a focus on serving a greater number of nonprofits as a membership organization. Led by the volunteer board of directors (all local executive directors), the organization grew in membership and created regular space for nonprofits to gather and learn together in community.
In 2012, LNA led an initiative (along with other stakeholders from the philanthropic, business and government sectors) called Nonprofit Next to help craft a vision for the future of nonprofits in the Holland/Zeeland area. Still feeling the effects of the recent recession with declining donations and the needs of the community greater than ever, the timing was ideal for this effort. Nonprofit Next spanned six months with several large gatherings of 75 different nonprofits and 130 community stakeholders. Out of this initiative came three priority focuses: furthering nonprofit collaboration, seeking opportunities to leverage resources between nonprofits, and looking for ways to provide high-quality, low-cost professional development for nonprofit boards and staff. Lakeshore Nonprofit Alliance was a logical organization to turn to in order to carry out this vision.
The organization needed to build its own capacity before it could begin to help other nonprofits and staffing was needed. In 2013, the Lakeshore Nonprofit Alliance created a formal partnership with another community-based organization, the Ottawa County Human Services Coordinating Council, in order to have enough resources to hire a shared director and begin to implement the work of Nonprofit Next. This partnership has proven to be an incredible example of LNA’s dedication to collaboration and has brought about improved nonprofit and government relationships. Since 2014, LNA has focused on listening to the needs and desires of the local nonprofit community and responding in kind.