Thirsty Thursday: The Juice on GRAPE–We are in the process of re-launching Grand Rapids Area Professionals for Excellent (GRAPE) as a non-profit organization. One of the first priorities Acting Executive Director John Potter and I have tackled is planning and recruiting members for the Board of Directors. We have been approached at events by individuals interested in a Board position.
When John and I first decided to change GRAPE’s legal status to a non-profit, we set an aggressive timeline on the process because GRAPE continues to grow with rising attendance at monthly events in Grand Rapids and Holland and strong interest from presenters, business, members, and volunteers. As the organization continues to build momentum, it makes sense to shift to a direction that allows the greatest impact on the community.

One of the first legal requirements is that a Board meets to approve the change to a non-profit as stated in the organization’s bylaws. Thus, finding individuals willing to serve on the Board who represent both local community and the GRAPE community has been one of our top priorities.

The response was overwhelming. It shouldn’t have been a surprise considering GRAPE’s five-year history of successful events and the members and presenters who have been involved, but we quickly had more individuals who wanted to be on the Board than we had positions available. Our goal is to discover a role for every candidate whether on the Board, committee leadership, or in another area where we have critical need for a skilled volunteer.

Sitting down with dozens of individuals in the past six weeks, we have wooed potential Board members. It’s a very personal process, and every individual we have met would be a tremendous asset to the Board. We have also reached out to dozens of others who would be outstanding Board members, and we know there are more we have not reached. It has been a challenge on top of planning our March events, scheduling our calendar for 2014, operating the Grand Rapids Business Blog, and strategizing the plan to grow GRAPE.

We intend to have GRAPE legally recognized as a non-profit organization and apply for our tax-exempt status before June 1, 2014. After the Board of Directors is selected, they will establish committees staffed by volunteers to help oversee the various aspects of GRAPE. We will also be introducing new opportunities for GRAPE’s partners, members, sponsors, donors, and volunteers.

We appreciate your support of GRAPE and your patience during this process. The positive feedback has been overwhelming as well as the suggestions and comments that have identified opportunities for improvement. Let’s keep working together to create excellence for professionals everywhere.

“Thirsty Thursday: The Juice on GRAPE” is the first in a series of articles that provides updates on the organization to relate what is happening at GRAPE. During our transition to a non-profit organization, we plan to deliver a weekly message.