Nonprofit organizations seek to "do good."

Nonprofit organizations seek to "do good."

Charles E. Wolfe seeks to help them do better.

Nonprofits frequently serve the role of adult education outlets, according to Wolfe, teaching volunteers about organizing, fundraising and administration.

That's not to mention the warm and fuzzy feeling people get by doing good work.

"It really provides people an outlet to help the community," Wolfe said.

Nonprofits also provide a significant number of jobs.

And, obviously, such organizations seek to fill a need, to help some segment of the population.

"I believe that nonprofits are an important and integral part of a community," Wolfe said.

Helping nonprofit organizations better fulfill their missions, becoming even more important and more integral parts of the community, is the purpose of Wolfe Consulting Associates. The limited liability corporation that the Northland resident founded in 2001 is a for-profit enterprise geared to assist nonprofit entities.

So when Wolfe takes on a client, the pressure is on him to deliver the goods, to make the investment pay off. The consulting firm, Wolfe said, seeks to help nonprofit clients grow, improve productivity and therefore expand their capacity to serve their mission, "to help them get to that next step."

"The return to the community is an improved quality of life," Wolfe said.

Before starting WCA, Wolfe said that he spent nearly two decades in various capacities with the Boy Scouts of America. He lived for a time in Germany, and his experience in Europe, he said, showed him this country is unique in that volunteers and nonprofit agencies fulfill many social roles that are part of government responsibility abroad.

Wolfe, a trustee with the Northland Area Business Association, said that for-profit enterprises are all about the bottom line, while nonprofits are more about the services provided. Still, he said, nonprofit organizations increasingly are being held to a level of accountability similar to that desired by a for-profit corporation's board of directors.

"Today, funders and shareholders are asking -- and I'm dating myself here -- 'Where's the beef?' " Wolfe said. "That's put the onus on nonprofits to get away from, 'We just do good.' "

Corporate partnerships have become an increasing aspect of funding mechanisms for nonprofit organizations, but many in the nonprofit sector are leery about how they can show some return on that investment, according to Wolfe.

"I work with nonprofits to help them navigate through that," he said.

Wolfe Consulting Associates has plenty of potential clients coming on board all the time. Around 1,500 new nonprofits are incorporated in Ohio every month, Wolfe said.

"A lot of them go under the first couple of years," he said.

Many of these are started by individuals or groups of people with a real passion for their mission, but not a lot of organizational expertise or knowledge about forming a board of directors, raising funds and myriad other aspects of getting off the ground and up and running, he said.

"The secret to fundraising is to ask. ... But how do you position yourself to ask? How do you position the basket so some things fall of the tree into it?" Wolfe said.

Wolfe Consulting works primarily with what its principal described as small to medium organizations, nonprofits with annual budgets of between $100,000 and $1-million. The firm offers a variety of services, but Wolfe said that he does an initial free assessment to determine what a nonprofit most needs and what it can afford.

"I like to customize it to the nonprofit and its needs and its resources," Wolfe said.

Wolfe, who is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, which has more than 30,000 members in 200 chapters throughout the world, moved to the central Ohio from Baltimore 20 years ago.

kparks@thisweeknews.com