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Forty Carrots Family Center knows how to keep board members engaged.  There are a million ways of measuring “engagement”, but step one is getting people to show up. As an indicator of engagement, The Giving Partner asks your organization about board attendance at your meetings over the last fiscal year.  Forty Carrots stays well above the recommended minimum of 67% attendance.

How do they do it?  Special thanks to Jennifer Abbott, development director at Forty Carrots, for sharing with us today:

 

A parent works with his child during a library class at Forty Carrots Family Center in Sarasota

Can you picture it? A fifteen year old mother who doesn’t make eye contact and resists participating in playtime with her child. A father of three year old twins who has lost his job and is feeling isolated while caring for the boys all day because they can no longer afford preschool.  A homeless pregnant teen who is so fearful of being a mother that she breaks down in tears.

Sure you can picture it. Those examples of Forty Carrots service in action tug your heartstrings.  But do they engage you? Maybe.  Will you remember their stories tomorrow? Will you share it with others?  Maybe not.

But if you saw those things first hand – and saw Forty Carrots mission in action strengthening these families – would that be even more memorable? Would it engage you more deeply in the mission? Would it make you a more passionate and authentic advocate? You bet!

Every month Forty Carrots arranges for one of its trustees to observe an agency program that interests them or that they know the least about. Then they come back and share their experiences with their fellow trustees at a brief (3 -5 min) Mission Moment during the board meeting.

Judge Thomas Krug, a former Forty Carrots trustee, said “being able to participate in Mission Moment was an invaluable experience for me as a Trustee member of Forty Carrots. As a trustee, you often get lost in the verbiage of what your organization strives to do, but rarely get the opportunity to witness it firsthand.”

“Seeing the goals and objectives laid forth in the mission of Forty Carrots come to life solidified my strong foundation and belief in what we are trying to achieve as a board at Forty Carrots.  It made me more connected to what our goals and objectives are and better able to develop strategies to accomplish them.  I feel I am able to offer much more now as a trustee and offer insights and suggestions based on my Mission Moment experience.  I definitely feel a stronger connection to what we are setting out to achieve.”

Judge Krug shared a powerful Mission Moment with his fellow trustees.  Peer-to-peer, it had a lot of power.  And now when people ask him about the work of Forty Carrots, he has a passionate, authentic story he can tell from his heart. Can you picture it?

 

Engraved stone at the Grove Park Inn in Ashville, reading "Be not simply good--be good for something."

If you’re working hard on your organization’s profile in The Giving Partner, you know there is a considerable amount you are asked to share.

It may be time consuming at the front end, but complex? It’s not. And complex plans, statements and program success measures aren’t the focus or the goal.

Hal Williams, an internationally-known thought leader in outcomes is visiting our community this week to talk about results-based leadership, communications and strategy versus the more common but relatively meaningless “activities based” form of operations to which we have become so accustomed.

Hal worked with the creators of DonorEdge to develop the program fields, and together, they answer the big picture question shrewd donors want to know: “What result are you achieving when my dollars go to work?”

Two keys to a successful nonprofit, according to Hal, are:

  1. A spotlight on programmatic  results instead of activities; and
  2. Keeping it simple

The CEO and board can energize your staff, donors and volunteers for a focus on results by setting a powerful example…

  • Constantly pushing for stronger outcomes for those you serve
  • Insuring that everyone knows what the next results are to be and making their behavior intentional to receiving them
  • Focusing clearly on a few key accomplishments 
  • Dropping the conversations based on activities and always keeping the desired achievement at the center of discussions

Check out those questions again in the program section of The Giving Partner. Do your answers speak to results? Will they get an investor-centered donor excited?

Let’s not stop with The Giving Partner as a donor development tool.

You will find a number of fields in The Giving Partner asking about your people, your plans and your policies. Are those outcome based?  Yes. And here’s why:  from our point of view, one very important result of The Giving Partner is building strong nonprofits that are certain of their direction and how they’ll get there.  But complexity isn’t a player we’ve invited to the table.

Everyone knows that a plan on the shelf is no good. Some of the best plans we’ve seen are really simple. A good strategic plan may be as basic as a one page chart outlining the key accomplishments you hope to achieve, strategies to achieve them, who’s responsible and when they are to be accomplished.

Remember, it’s not about voluminous documents. It’s not about your activities. It’s about making a difference and what allows you to do it. Burn your positive energy to inspire others, and let us know how we can help.

From our foundation’s point of view, we have work to do as well in giving the right signals about the outcome-based results we’re hoping to achieve as we invest in nonprofits.  We’re certainly not above the road to continous improvement either.  It’s all about evolution, right?

-Susie Bowie
Director, The Giving Partner
Community Foundation of Sarasota County

Learn more about Hal Williams online.

Thanks to Debra Jacobs, President & CEO of The Patterson Foundation, for this insightful contribution about the vision behind The Giving Partner:

 

Today each and every one of us has instant access to information and knowledge that 20 to 30 years ago would have been next to impossible to find. This certainly applies to philanthropy in communities. Now more than ever, donors demand more information and transparency from the nonprofits they care about. This is part of a growing demographic that asks questions and makes informed decisions.

This brings me to our support of the community collaboration around The Giving Partner, the online knowledge tool connecting donors and funders with local nonprofits in our community. Our region’s community foundations — The Community Foundation of Sarasota County, Gulf Coast Community Foundation and the Manatee Community Foundation – and others are collaborating to rollout this platform in our community.

Our region is so blessed that they have committed to support and uplift our community’s long-term vision of philanthropy, one that is informed, transparent and connected for the greater good.

Inspired by this, we are providing strategic communications, financial thrivability and technology expertise in support of the collaboration for a more effective and efficient nonprofit sector.

What are the benefits of this community collaboration?

  • A trusted online resource for donors to connect with nonprofits and make informed decisions
  • Transparent, in-depth information on nonprofits that make a difference in our community
  • A third-party credibility element, as each nonprofit profile is reviewed to verify key documents and fields
  • A better understanding of the social sector assets and needs in the community

An interesting fact to note, our region — comprised of Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte and DeSoto counties — is the 12th to embrace this platform, and the only region with funding support from more than one community foundation.

This speaks volumes of the philanthropic support and vision in our vibrant community, and setting the standard for others to follow!

To join the conversation as The Giving Partner moves toward its launch this spring, follow The Giving Partner on Facebook or continue to join the conversation on this blog.

How do you think you’ll make a difference in your community with such a resource at your fingertips?

 

My Agenda for Action

January 3, 2012

Greg Luberecki

Greg Luberecki

This afternoon, Gulf Coast Community Foundation’s 2012 “Agenda for Action” is set to mail.

The publication replaced our traditional annual report last year. Rather than just look back at our work, our Agenda lays out Gulf Coast’s commitments for the year ahead—our highest priorities for transforming our region.

Completing it brought congratulations and verbal “high fives” from coworkers who knew just how much critical thought and creative work go into producing it. But while the back-pats are welcome, I know that the piece is hardly finished.

The whole point of our Agenda is that it can’t begin and end with a printed-and-bound publication. Our work on each Agenda item necessarily evolves. And our results grow and improve (if we do our work right).

Last year, a community foundation peer from another state, who was impressed by our new take on the “annual report,” raised an insightful question amid his glowing review: How will you keep the community updated on your progress through the year?

That query helped reshape our e-newsletter last year, which itself morphed from a traditional monthly collection of news items into periodic updates on our progress on a specific Agenda item. (Here was the first, delivered early in the second half of the year.)

We also just updated the Impact page on GulfCoastCF.org, which offers snapshots of the results of Gulf Coast grants and initiatives. While I don’t think numbers alone ever tell the full story, these offer accessible, measurable examples for people who care about what we and our donors are trying to improve.

As we strive to move even more timely data online for community members interested in our work, I recently heard about the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s online Dashboard in one of the reliable blogs or e-newsletters or webinars that I frequently turn to for ideas.

The IMA Dashboard was shared as a living annual report of sorts, one that is updated throughout the year as indicators change. Again, not the whole picture, but a big, accessible, and measurable part of it. I know I’ll be working on a way to render more of Gulf Coast’s data in a user-friendly format like this in the coming weeks.

The Giving Partner, of course, is another place where detailed information on the structure, performance, and impact of organizations like ours will live and grow. Donors, potential grantees, and interested community members can review this data as deeply as they wish—from detailed program information to the highlights of your board and staff team. You will even be able to generate a printable organization profile or summary at the click of a button.

This year, my own agenda for action includes making it easier for the community to understand what we do at Gulf Coast, how we do it, and how we’re doing at it. The Giving Partner will be a key part of that. If you have more ideas, I’d love to hear them. (And I resolve to give you full and proper credit if I share them in a future blog post!)

-Greg Luberecki
Director of Marketing and Communications
Gulf Coast Community Foundation