NFP Capability Building
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    NFP Capability Building NFP Capability Building Document Transcript

    • Building capacity in not-for-profit sector: Insights and ideas for actionIn a ‘kitchen-table’ conversation held on December 15, 2010, seven organizational were invitedleaders to discuss how, in times when funding becomes more challenging, NFPs can grow theircapabilities to meet the demands of their communities.The seven main participants • Stephen Faul, Executive Director, Second Harvest • Robin Cardozo, Chief Executive Officer, Ontario Trillium Foundation • Deborah Gardner, Executive Director, Volunteer Toronto • Fred Winegust, Business Value Animator, Zerofootprint and Ron Dembo’s Zero Footprint Foundation • Jeff Melanson, Executive Director and Co-CEO of Canadas National Ballet School, and Special Advisor to Toronto Mayor Rob Ford on Arts and Culture • Michael Coteau, Executive Director, AlphaPlus • Richard Knudson, Principal, Knudson Consulting Group; former president and CEO, Sleeman BreweriesInitial observations to the topic • Explore partnerships not just with the private sector, but also with other non-profits. • Capacity-building and sustainability are challenging because there may be too many not-for- profit organizations. Especially for well-established NFPs, there may be other organizations who could do a better job, or at least be collaborative partners. • During this recession, there has been much more responsibility and maturity among NFPs, who are saying, “Yes, we need government help, but we need to do things differently ourselves.” • Volunteering isn’t free. • We need to find a way to defray the costs, to volunteers and foundations, of doing good by doing right. • We need to fix the perception that business is the enemy of NFPs. • Foster growth and capability within NPF boards by getting young people with fresh ideas onto the board. • NFPs should reach out to business and create opportunities to engage.Best practice suggestionsFoster collaboration: First understand the attributes or raison d’être of your organization and itsrelevance to all stakeholders, then search for those attributes in other not-for-profits to see if they canbe brought together into a stronger whole. Try not to automatically assume that collaboration is somekind of ‘efficiency play.’ Instead, view collaboration more aspirationally, looking at the institution’smission and vision and trying to figure out who else is doing similar things. Ego can be a big obstacle,since some founders of organizations will be threatened if some other organization offers a bettervehicle to achieve the same values. “The NFP sector is very open to collaboration, but not to shotgunweddings.”Beware of the allure of ‘efficiency’: Combining two inefficient organizations doesn’t necessarilygenerate one more efficient organization. The corporate model of efficiency doesn’t necessarily applyDecember 2010 Roundtable moderation by: The Glasgow Group Report by: Glue 1
    • to NFPs, many of which are well-managed and fiscally responsible since they’ve dealt with flat-linedbudgets for years yet continued to deliver necessary services. Achieving a savings of three percent inthe budget isn’t really going to solve the problem. A better way to view the quest for efficiency may bein terms of ‘productivity,’ since it speaks to the overlaps that occur when different organizations do thesame thing. It’s tough to capitalize on all the synergies in a merger, since synergies are, at best,forecasts of the future and no one gets that 100 percent right. But you ought to at least think about howyou can perhaps improve things, or else nothing will change.Focus on revenue growth, too: Most NFPs are service industries that incur a cost for delivering theirservice. Rather than exclusively trying to pare away at administrative overhead, seek to grow therevenues from the organization, but do not sacrifice the core business to save money. Examine if thereare opportunities to increase your funding from either corporate, foundation or individual donors. Ifyou’re an event-driven organization, look into other ways to connect with donors, such as direct-mail.Standardize metrics: Government-funded organizations spend too much time filling out reports onperformance measures. The NFP sector already values accountability and transparency as one of itscore operational values. Funders may not always understand the most suitable metrics. Havingstandardized metrics would mean less time spent reporting and more time doing the work. Finally, thework of many NFPs can’t be measured by a bottom line of figures – how do you quantify changing thedirection of someone’s life?Exploit a loss of funding: One organization that lost half its government funding used the opportunityto take a step back and do some strategic planning and further define the organization.Pursue new supporters when they’re young: High-school students must do 40 hours of volunteer workto graduate. Reaching out to them can instill an appreciation for the value of giving back to thecommunity, while also creating opportunities for networking. Take advantage of the shift from whatused to be ‘hands and heart’ volunteering to more of ‘head’ volunteering using one’s professionalskills.Make fundraising a board requirement: Many NFP boards dislike being told their job is to fundraise.It’s not helpful to recruit board members who have lots of good ideas but are unable to raise money. Bedisciplined in determining exactly what skills you require on the board.Ideas for action from group breakout sessionsThe board’s role in building capacity• Be clear on what the organization expects of board members and vice versa (e.g., fundraising, or professional expertise in a particular business area).• Ensure the Board is an advocate for change, including helping with government relations activities.• Looking back from 2012: Roles are clearer and all board members are functioning well in those roles. There may be turnover because of this process, but more money is being raised and there’s more sectoral training among board members.The executive director’s role in building capacity• Recognize the vitally important relationship between the ED and the board chair.• Know when to ‘say no’ to money. Ensure you remain aligned with your mission, and if an offer looks too good to be true, maybe it is. Have an established process for making such decisions that the board and staff both support.December 2010 Roundtable moderation by: The Glasgow Group Report by: Glue 2
    • • Don’t forget about training for EDs!The relationship with government funders in building capacity• Recognize that governments are looking for cross-sector collaboration and a holistic approach. Demonstrate how your NFP fits in the continuum of improving communities.• Rather than approaching government and saying ‘please help us out,’ work with bureaucrats so that they can help you solve your problem rather than expecting them to solve them for you.• As a large organization, recognize your responsibility to mentor smaller organizations, which builds an ecology for the whole sector.The relationship with private funders in building capacity• Strategy is essential; you don’t have time not to have a strong strategy. You must know who you are, what you want, where you’re going, who your target audience is.• Understand the return on investment you’re seeking; it’s not always money. Know the WIIFM (What’s in it for me?) for the both the private funder you’re approaching and for the not-for-profit.• Build your board wisely. Are these board members who simply want the position on their bio, or are they people who will make things happen?The one action you can take now to make a difference• Help people who aren’t involved in NFP better understand what it’s all about; that’s an impediment to everything we do.• Provide time and facilities for organizations for think about their medium to long-term strategy.• Ensure everyone understands that an hour of volunteering can make a difference and change a life.• Help find a way to ensure that people who contribute money to charity should not have an tax advantage over those who contribute time.• Help ensure that board members have the right skills and experience for board governance.• Encourage everyone to be more optimistic about what can and is happening. Attracting dollars is much more effective when you have a smile on your face and a great story to tell.• Every day, celebrate where we’re achieving success and making progress.• Help train people who receive services from NFPs to serve on boards.• Demonstrate to NFPs that business is not the enemy, it’s an opportunity. More and more businesses are recognizing the importance of social responsibility and sustainability.• Do fewer things, but better. Stay focused on the end goal.The session’s observer participants• Alexis Mantell, Communications Department, Ontario Trillium Foundation• Tim Morawetz, Writer and Strategist, Glue Inc.• Lori Willcox, 3 Guineas Business Solutions Inc.• Anthony Alfred, Director of Communications, ABC Life Literacy Canada• Dave Lukey, Program Manager, Allstream• John Gill, Broadcast media consultant• Marion Plunkett, Plunkett Communications Inc.• Jo-Ann McArthur, Chief Strategist & Partner, fisheye corporation• Bob Ramsay, President, Ramsay Inc.• Sanjay Shahani, Program Manager, Ontario Trillium FoundationDecember 2010 Roundtable moderation by: The Glasgow Group Report by: Glue 3
    • Roundtable moderation by Alan Kay of: (416) 481 3588 Report by Tim Morawetz of: (416) 703 5300December 2010 Roundtable moderation by: The Glasgow Group Report by: Glue 4