ONO, founded in 2001, had previously functioned as a stand-alone steering committee, but will now operate as a committee of DVLF.
ONO chair Ron Lucente said the group has been looking to partner with a larger nonprofit in the region, as it is not its own legal entity.
“We’ll now have the backing of such a well-respected organization as DVLF,” Lucente said. “From a legal standpoint, this insulates us from certain liabilities and risks.”
DVLF executive director Samantha Giusti said the group will be similar in structure to DVLF’s Wonder Women.
“We have a lot of committees and some focus on DVLF’s actual work — like the marketing, development and executive committees — but then others like Wonder Women are really more programmatic, and that’s how we see Our Night Out operating,” Giusti said.
She added that DVLF could provide funding to ONO in the future, and the committee will have access to other agency resources.
“Certainly as a committee of DVLF, Our Night Out can take advantage of anything our other committees have to offer — so, staff, resources, sometimes finances. We have our own service that sends out e-blasts so they can certainly switch to that,” she said. “We haven’t talked about specifics, but anything Our Night Out needs, DVLF is happy to provide.”
The makeup of the ONO committee will not change, although they will be asked to submit periodic organizational plans to Giusti for approval.
“My job will essentially be to make sure the committees are working cohesively and that their plans are in line with the mission of the organization,” Giusti said. “We want them to be as autonomous as possible while working with the DVLF mission.”
The ONO committee looked at an array of potential partners throughout the region and narrowed their choice to between DVLF and William Way LGBT Community Center.
Lucente, who, as a DVLF board member, abstained from the vote, said both agencies were viable options.
“[William Way executive director] Chris Bartlett and Samantha did write-ups about how they envisioned us working together, and then the committee voted based on that information,” Lucente said. “And it’s not that one was tremendously better than the other; they were both great and pretty equal. But William Way does a number of other outreach activities, so the committee thought DVLF might be a better fit. If you look at DVLF, their mission is really about building community, which I think is why the committee decided to go with them.”
The ONO events will not be impacted by the partnership, Lucente said.
“From an outsider perspective, there will be no change for Our Night Out,” he said. “We’re still going to hold our monthly events and still each month have a host that’s an organization here in the city. From someone looking in from the outside, you won’t be able to see any change.”
DVLF served as host for Monday’s ONO at R2L, which drew about 200 people; other events have featured hosts such as Mazzoni Center, William Way and the Elements Organization.
Giusti said the agency’s capacity to develop new supporters for local nonprofits fuses well with DVLF’s work.
“They have an excellent model that works,” she said. “It’s such a mission match for DVLF and Our Night Out. And in the future, I think it’ll be great to find even more ways to increase philanthropy using Our Night Out.”