NetworkPeninsula celebrates 10th anniversary

A local nonprofit organization is celebrating a decade of helping the community Dec. 7 with a forum in Williamsburg.

NetworkPeninsula services more than 280 fellow nonprofit groups through education efforts, networking, information sharing and more to help expand their outreach.

“There are a lot of nonprofits out there,” said Karen Dutro, the organization’s founder and executive director. “Our mission is to raise awareness for nonprofits in the community.”

Dutro previously worked as a development director for a community agency in Richmond, where she saw firsthand the challenges nonprofit organizations face. She launched NetworkPeninsula with 11 nonprofit groups in December 2007 as NetworkWilliamsburg, a website on which the groups could share their needs with one another.

“They were all having the same challenges,” including staff retention and fundraising, Dutro said. “There was a lot of education there that was needed.”

When the recession hit soon after, Dutro watched nonprofit groups struggle even more. In 2008, she began offering educational workshops that covered topics, such as fundraising and board development. In October, NetworkPeninsula hosted the 106th such workshop.

“The membership is a tremendous value,” said Nancy Paschall, executive director for the Williamsburg-based nonprofit group Dream Catchers. She said the workshops are “targeted, concise, but thorough.”

NetworkPeninsula also helps groups get the word out regarding needs for volunteers and materials, and it acts as a megaphone for upcoming events through its website, weekly email blasts and social media.

“Recently, we’re focusing a lot on advocacy and trying really to demonstrate the value of nonprofits in our community,” Dutro said. “If nonprofits didn’t exist, who would be doing this work?”

NetworkPeninsula works with larger organizations, such as the United Way, Habitat for Humanity, Goodwill and Dream Catchers, as well as smaller ones throughout Williamsburg and the Peninsula.

“I see the work being done and I just want to scream their names from the rooftops,” Dutro said. “We’re just trying to be the voice for nonprofits.”

The organization has also reached out to government officials through legislative breakfasts and faith leaders through similar events.

The Dec. 7 forum will feature four senior executives from businesses in the area, such as Bank of America and Newport News Shipbuilding. Panelists will discuss how their corporate giving strategies have evolved over time.

Alongside the 10th anniversary celebration, an anonymous donor plans to match all donations made to NetworkPeninsula, up to $5,000, from Nov. 28 to Dec.7.

“There are ways that we can help nonprofits from the smallest to the biggest ways,” Dutro said. “It just has a lot more value than I think people realize.”

Impact forum

NetworkPeninsula’s Impact Forum runs 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Dec. 7 at Legacy Hall, 4301 New Town Ave. Tickets are $25 and include lunch; registration is available online at

For more information or to date, visit

Birkenmeyer can be reached by phone at 757-790-3029.

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