ACN Year in Review 2020

01/05/2021 10:14 AM | Lidia Varesco Racoma (Administrator)


This was a challenging year for everyone, including membership organizations like ours. But despite the challenges, we found new ways to keep our members connected and supported by embracing the new virtual world.

COVID-19 Response

As in-person events were being canceled in March 2020, we launched an initiative to support our members virtually. We implemented weekly member resource emails, free flash webinars, networking opportunities in our private Facebook group, as well as virtual speed networking events.

We had record-high attendance at our flash webinars and our happy hour speed networking events were a hit.

2020 Board and Committee Changes

In our Annual Meeting in May 2020 (our first virtual event), we announced changes to our board and committee structure, including the implementation of Board Liaisons and co-chairs for each committee.

We also welcomed three new board members, Brad BallDon Raack and Shailushi Ritchie.


2020 Committee Highlights

Marketing & Communications Committee

Board Liaison: Lidia Varesco Racoma; Co-Chairs: Aashi Mital & Annisa Wanat

  • We launched a National Volunteer Week social media campaign in May, sharing stories from our current volunteers (getting our highest engagement, to boot).  
  • We continued to remain active on Facebook and LinkedIn (make sure to follow us!) and bumped up activity in our private member communities on Google Groups and Facebook.
  • We shared monthly guest blog posts by members.
  • We are in the process of revamping the ACN website in both structure and content to make it more user-friendly, both for our members as well as nonprofits seeking consultants.

Nonprofit Relations Committee (NPRC)

Board Liaison: Emily Taylor; Co-Chairs: Aashi Mital & Annisa Wanat

  • We further established our relationship with Forefront through our series of Ask a Consultant panels on COVID-relevant topics, getting ACN members exposed to Chicagoland nonprofits.
  • We created a Find a Speaker section on our website to direct our nonprofit partners to ACN consultants when they are looking to share relevant knowledge with their nonprofit members. 
  • We revised our RFP process to make it easier for nonprofits to fill out and gather more robust information for consultants to respond to.

Membership Committee

Board Liaison: Jim Javoricic; Co-Chairs: Fran Caan & Laura Weinman

  • We implemented virtual New Member Orientations on the first Wednesday of each month.
  • We sent emails welcoming new members and encouraging networking among members.
  • Our current membership is at a record high.
  • Membership has diversified by geography and membership type, including out-of-state memberships representing Colorado, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Washington, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Ohio, New York, Kansas and California.

Programming Committee

ACN Member Stories from 2020

We are thrilled to share stories from our members about how ACN supported them this year.

We are only as strong as our membership and we are grateful to work with such a dedicated group of nonprofit consultants.

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For the first half of 2020 I was a member of the Governance Committee and, later in the year, part of a working group to update the Conflict of Interest policy. As a past president, I know the importance of committee work and the mutual benefit—for members and ACN—derived from the experience. Committee work is a wonderful way to get to know colleagues and share expertise.

I was also delighted to have the opportunity to participate in Ask a Consultant. It was meaningful to be able to share expertise with nonprofits and colleagues as we all were learning how to navigate during a pandemic. 

Amy Wishnick, Wishnick & Associates, LLC

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As a board member, I have been able to take on new challenges that add skills to my business, such as better understanding the hard skills of governance and the soft skills of building a team. This year also brought big changes for me as I tried to manage my business while having a kid at home. Connecting and having conversations with ACN members in similar situations helped me think through how to retool my work to fit my capacity and still make a meaningful impact with my clients.

Emily Taylor, teeny big

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ACN has been great for me as I just started my consulting practice. There was no comparable organization in NYC and I have found ACN welcoming, supportive, comprehensive and a great way to meet new people!

– Kim Vaccari

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Participating in the ACN Board of Directors and Marketing & Communications Committee has helped me stay connected with nonprofit colleagues as well as fellow parents navigating remote learning. This year, I also got two new speaking opportunities and several new client projects thanks to ACN referrals.

Lidia Varesco Racoma, Lidia Varesco Design

Thank you for your support of ACN in 2020—here's to a healthy and successful 2021! 

The Association of Consultants to Nonprofits | 400 E. Randolph St., #2305 | Chicago, IL 60601


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