Monday, June 22, 2015

Investing in the Infrastructure of Under-Resourced Nonprofits

Nonprofit Strengthening Projects
An innovative program of Charities Review Council's Grantmaker Services, where Council staff partner with grantmakers to accomplish their strategic interests for increasing the capacity of the organizations they fund.

In 2014, Charities Review Council successfully completed three Nonprofit Strengthening Projects, created in partnership with local funders: Youthprise, Greater Twin Cities United Way and Northside Achievement Zone, while also launching a new 2014-2015 project for St. Cloud area nonprofits with the Otto Bremer Foundation. The goal for each of these projects is to strengthen the capacity of the organizations participating, their relationships with each other, and with the funder who supports them.

Each project is carefully designed with the participants' needs in mind. Projects include a Strengthening Workshop Series, access to the Accountability Wizard® at no cost, and individual consulting sessions. By using Charities Review Council’s 25 Accountability Standards® and the Accountability Wizard® as common ground, organizations are able to assess and improve their current practices, policies and procedures with support along the way.

  1. Community Engagement: Goals are created in partnership with the supporting funder. Each project engages local partners and community-based consultants to provide a meaningful and relevant experience for each project participant. 
  2. Peer Learning Communities: We strive to create culturally affirming programming, which reinforces our ability to learn from one another, while building a stronger sense of community.
  3. Customized Strengthening Workshops: Each workshop is designed with input from project participants and facilitated by subject-matter experts. These workshops utilize adult learning techniques such as honoring time and knowledge, leveraging motivation, and presenting practical tools/learnings that can be used right away. 
  4. Individual Consulting Sessions: Council staff (or in some cases a Council Consultant) meet organizations where they are, providing non-judgmental support in order to help them achieve commonly agreed upon standards of accountability. 
  5. Built-in Assessment & Incentives: Traditional capacity building services often lack proper incentive and assessment. These projects provide both by using pre and post assessments to identify needs and enabling organizations to demonstrate their strength to a wider audience by earning the Meets Standards® seal, a visual maker of nonprofit strength recognized by donors, funders, and community members.
We invited more than 100 organizations to participate in our Strengthening Projects; 88 registered to participate. In 2014, we hosted 10 Strengthening Workshops, facilitated by subject-matter experts from MAP for Nonprofits, Nonprofits Assistance Fund, and several community-based consultants.

“The Strengthening Workshops gave me real tools that I can apply at work right away. I enjoyed the informal, interactive, yet resourceful atmosphere and presentation style.”

54 organizations took advantage of a free, two-hour consulting session with a Council Staff member or Consultant.

"My consultant helped me to feel more confident.. She reinforced the fact that I did not have to have things perfect now, rather it was a process to achieve some of the standards over time."

Nonprofit Strengthening Projects demonstrate the value of investing in the administration and infrastructure of historically under-resourced nonprofits, with each component designed to be a capacity building opportunity for nonprofit professionals at all levels of the organization. “I think it’s great these workshops are open to more than just the Executive Director. I learned a ton as a young, relatively new, nonprofit professional.” On average, 97% of project participants indicate that the Nonprofit Strengthening Projects are valuable. We look forward to continuing these projects in 2015 and beyond.

Interested in learning more about each Nonprofit Strengthening Project? Click here for more information.

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