By Caitlin Switzer
MONTROSE—(May 6, 2014) Running a non-profit organization is certainly similar to running a small business. As lifelong entrepreneur Carlton Mason is learning, however, there also subtle differences. Mason, who recently took over as executive director of CASA of the Seventh Judicial District after the departure of longtime director Karen Tuttle, has plenty of experience making practical decisions and thinking about the bottom line. Now, he is enjoying the chance to work with and lead an organization that is owned not only by himself, but by the community.
“I am used to working 60, 70 hours a week, and to being in charge,” Mason said.” Here, there are so many entities and people involved—from the children to whom we provide services to our board and our volunteers.
“I want to emphasize collaboration.”
To that end, Mason has expanded the non-profit’s board of directors to 10 so as to include business owners as well as community leaders, adding new board members Valerie Hill (owner of Ridgway’s Mountain Market), mechanical contractor Lance Daniel, and retired dentist Mick Francis, who built his own practice from the ground up.
“They bring diversity to our board,” Mason said, “and strengthen our business presence. I think our community is very focused on collaboration with small business, which is something that makes this community special.”
In addition, he has sought the assistance of the Region 10 Small Business Development Center to create a new business plan for CASA.
“Susan Bony of the SBDC has been providing these services to CASA,” he said. “Working with Susan helped me expand our scope, and she answered my questions. She has a very good communication style, and she gets right to the point.”
After the first draft of the plan came back “marked up,” Mason was able to tighten and narrow the focus.
“Susan taught me not to assume anything,” he said. “This plan will really help us to know where we are headed and how to get there; it will be central where we end up. We owe a big thank you to Region 10 for giving us Susan! It’s a real vote of confidence, and we need buy-in and support from the entire community.”
“Carlton was a pleasure to work with,” Bony said. “He actually listened and was proactive in the plan development process. Many clients want me to do all the work for them. Carlton was also able to ask insightful questions about why I was having him do certain things. He realized everything had a purpose.”
Region 10 is also leading by example, Mason said.
“They are showing us how an organization can evolve to meet the needs of the community,” Mason said.
Seeing that businesses and organizations not only function effectively, but also thrive in their environments is a key component of the Region 10 mission, said Region 10 Executive Director Michelle Haynes.
“The Region 10 Small Business Resource Center and the Small Business Development Center enable businesses and organizations to attain professional counseling that they may not have access to,” Haynes said, “allowing them to develop in areas beyond the owners and managers expertise.
“We are pleased to be able to offer this service to businesses and organizations at low or no cost,” she said, “and happy to discuss their needs as well.”
Mason noted that the 2014 CASA Ray of Hope Fundraising event held in April was a success, bringing in around $27,000 to fund the non-profit’s operating costs, with reduced overhead. And what about the annual dodgeball tournament…will it continue?
“Absolutely,” Mason said.