Nonprofit Center of the Berkshires aims for shared growth among charitable groups


GREAT BARRINGTON — Liana Toscanini is a great-granddaughter of renowned Italian classical music conductor Arturo Toscanini.

But unlike that Toscanini, music isn't this Toscanini's forte.

"I like to say that I conduct business," she said.

A transplanted New Yorker with 20 years of experience in the Berkshire nonprofit sector, the South County resident recently formed the Nonprofit Center of the Berkshires, an entity designed to facilitate growth for charitable organizations through shared resources, affordable services and creative collaborations.

Tosacanini's organization joins 1Berkshire's Nonprofit Business Network, formed in 2012, to provide services to the county's nonprofit sector, which provides an economic impact of $2.2 billion to the Berkshire economy, according to a 2012 report released by the North Adams-based Center for Community Development.

Toscanini, who has served on many boards and worked full-time for the Great Barrington-based Community Access to the Arts, is still setting up her organization, which officially launched in June. The center is located at 40 Railroad St.

The Nonprofit Center of the Berkshires has so far held three workshops featuring local speakers on subjects of interest to nonprofits. Toscanini is also compiling a 200-page "Giving Guide," a periodical that will include profiles of Berkshire nonprofits ranked by category, "to make it easier for someone who wants to help or get involved," she said.

Toscanini expects to release her guide, which she claims is the first of its kind in the Berkshires, this fall.

"I don't know why anybody's never done it," she said.

Since relocating to the Berkshires from the New York City area in 1996, Toscanini has volunteered for several nonprofit organizations, including helping to raise funds for the restoration of the Sandisfield Arts Center building, which received a preservation award from the state.

She has also edited newsletters, chaired a local cultural council, assisted nonprofits with marketing, served on many boards, and owned a small business in Great Barrington. It was a "combination of things" that led Toscanini to form the Nonprofit Center of the Berkshires.

"I've done so much volunteering that I became the go-to person for every little nonprofit," Toscanini said. "One week four different people came up to me and asked me for help. So that was kind of the catalyst.

"I have a marketing background," Toscanini said. She spent a decade as the vice president of marketing for a slipcover firm in New York City before coming to the Berkshires. "Helping people tell their story is something I've been doing for a long time. Around here the little guys certainly struggle getting the work out and some of the larger organizations, too."

The Nonprofit Center of the Berkshire currently has 15 members. "I haven't actively solicited members yet," she said.

The organization's board of directors includes Southern Berkshire Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Betsy Andrus and local businessman Richard Stanley, who owns the Triplex and Beacon cinemas.

Membership fees are $75 annually for nonprofits with yearly revenues under $200,000; $125 for organizations with budgets between $250,000 and $750,000; and $195 for those with budgets over $750,000.

Membership is not required to attend a workshop — the cost is $25 for members, $35 for nonmembers.

"The mission of the nonprofit center is to have affordable services," she said.

For more information about the nonprofit center call 413 645-3151, or visit


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