Friday, October 30, 2009
Throughout the course we spoke of the very real ability to create amazing communities. That ability starts with creating a vision that captures our highest potential – not for the organization but rather for the community. We must be able to see how lives will be dramatically changed as a result of our efforts. After all, when we aim for the sun or the moon, if we don’t make it, at least we’ll be up among the stars.
However, we can create the most inspiring vision known to man, but if our work does not move us on a direct trajectory toward our vision, we will fail to get there, or at best, get there after unnecessary delays and untold financial and human costs. Dimitri shared the example of a space craft designed to reach the moon. The astronauts or Mission Control must make numerous adjustments throughout the flight to ensure the craft remains on the proper path. If it is off by even a degree or two over the course of its long journey the craft will miss the moon altogether. Think how often we allow mission creep or even the protection of a program that is past its prime to take us the degree or two off course. With money as tight as it has been this last year and the needs greater than ever, we cannot afford squandering resources on paths that are not perfectly aligned with our vision.
So, begin today by reviewing your vision. Consider the conditions that must be met in order to achieve it. Identify the community impact goals that will allow you to meet each condition. Then prioritize these goals based on those that are most likely to help you reach your vision in the most elegant and robust manner possible.
Monday, October 26, 2009
Too many programs, started with a grant, have weak or absent sustainability plans. In most cases, the grant funds are shortly expended and the program (no matter how excellent) closes for lack of funding. Thus, your great idea is ruined by a grant.
Don’t let a grant ruin your great program. Disciple your organization, to create a realistic sustainability plan and implement it. Here, are two articles that will help you to create programs that will be enhanced, instead of ruined, with grant funding:
When to Begin Your Sustainability Plans
Sustainability Questions for Before You Seek the Grant
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
This example provides us another opportunity to play another round of Nonprofit What If. Remember the rules of >Nonprofit What If? Take a successful concept used elsewhere and consider how you can apply it at your nonprofit for fun, profit and mission enhancement. Consider the benefits. If you are inspired, find others using the model to learn more.
Round #3: What if you worked with one or two other nonprofits to consolidate your back office procedures?
- You will do more with less resources
- Collectively, you can hire one expert to staff each function and less expensive personnel to support them (instead of each organization hiring a semi-expert)
- Economies of scale provide additional cost savings
- Staff members focus on what they do best, instead of performing scattered tasks in cross-functional areas
- Donors love collaboration
- Opportunity for positive media exposure
- Once you work together, new program collaborative opportunities will become visible
Intrigued? Want to explore the concept further? Google these Chattanooga organizations to check out their “back office consolidation models.” And check out articles on our website www.kedconsult.com about developing partnerships under Articles and Resources and then Team Building.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
-- Clay Shirky, on the communications revolution
Shirky, author of Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing without Organizations, addressed the Communications Network conference this past Thursday. The Communications Network is a group of philanthropic professionals focused on communications.
Hoping to overcome the fear of change and loss of control that too frequently delay philanthropic organizations from embracing social media, Clay urged those present to "start small and only talk to people who care. ...The whole idea of filter before publish is gone. ...Figure out where the people you want to talk to are, and give them the tools to help spread your message. ...View the Communications Department as not just a mouthpiece, but also a microphone. It's now about 2-way conversation. ...The feedback loop makes the organization smarter!"
He also pointed out that "The loss of control you fear has already happened."
To read more excerpts from Clay's speech, including his suggestions on how nonprofits can get started engaging in social media, click here: http://neurocooking.blogspot.com/2009/10/this-is-revolution-it-can-not-be.html
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Under Real Estate: I recommended a site called Zillow. Yesterday, Terri Thacker (Realtor with Michael Saunders Sarasota) shared that Zillow’s pricing of the property’s market value is considered accurate by plus or minus 6 percent. To be conservative, adjust your budget up or down by this amount.
Add to Discount Opportunities: From a recent podcast, I learned about Grassroots.org. Grassroots.org provides nonprofit organizations with free valuable technologies and resources to increase their efficiency and productivity, i.e., website development.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
We talked about our mutual desire to expand applied narrative work within the nonprofit sector, to help nonprofits in finding and utilizing stories to help not just in communications, but also in program evaluation, organizational learning and knowledge sharing, and capacity building. We talked about the Army and their use of After Action Reviews, and how this type of immediate, constructive, and democratic analysis of programmatic action contributes to rapid organizational learning and advancement. And we talked about the dire need to expand this low-cost, high-benefit approach to capacity building within the sector, despite fears of fall out from a recessionary economy.
Without training, Bob said, nonprofits are limited in their constructive use of the stories and anecdotes surrounding them. He also talked about the need for organizations to fully vet the stories they are using for marketing and fundraising, to assure that the successful outcomes are also sustainable outcomes.
There's another reason to fully vet the stories and anecdotes that are gathered: so much is learned in the retelling! As you speak with the real-life characters, you not only corroborate the facts of the story, you also learn details that can help make the story more dynamic for future listeners. Small, sensory details help listeners to imagine and emotionally connect with the story. And, with each retelling, more meaning is uncovered, and more understanding is fostered.
x-posted to Neurocooking
Monday, October 5, 2009
I had the pleasure last month to serve on a panel at the Florida Museum Associations Annual Conference. The topic was how to create compelling grant applications in these economic times. Co-panel member, Evan Jones, Grants Manager at the Selby Foundation, shared two tips that I would add to the 121 other tips in Grant-tastic! if I was re-writing the booklets. They are:
122. Send any extra materials, your CD, the new brochure or new annual report, you want the grant donor to review, with a follow-up note to the grant donor, after you submit your application. Your cover note might read: “Just confirming that your received our applications and sharing our new brochure.” Why? If you send extras with your applications they almost universally become trash.
123. Pepper your requests with highlights of your collaborative efforts. This can be as simple sharing how others use your building and what it would cost them to rent a building on the open market. Or, more elaborate, include a paragraph outlining the extent of your referral network, how often you use them and an estimate of the value your customers receive when they follow-through.