We’re all working together, that’s the secret. Sam Walton
Collaboration is about being who you are and speaking what you see. Lynn Serafinn
Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success. Henry Ford
[add your own synergy-laden quote]
For the past three years, one of our key strategies has been to encourage strong, collaborative connections. As one executive director is fond of telling me, “If you want to increase your organization’s capacity, collaborate.”
Collaboration and cooperation is something we encourage, but it’s also something we practice.
In the past, ONEplace has cooperated with the Arts Council, Volunteer Kalamazoo, the Cultural Data Project, Kalamazoo Bar Association, and others to bring workshops and service opportunities to the nonprofit sector. Looking ahead, upcoming collaborative efforts at ONEplace include:
By working together we can move the needle on some of the most entrenched issues facing our community. I know many of your organizations are doing this. Please use the Comment tool and let us know how you’re building strong, collaborative connections.
There are things we do every day. Certain actions and behaviors form the habits that seem to run on autopilot – without thought. It’s for these actions and behaviors that ONEplace created the Lunch & Learn Series, where we
Spend one hour focused on something we rarely think about.
Each session explores a habit, beginning with a short presentation on the topic followed by a facilitated discussion among your colleagues. You get to share information, test ideas, and connect with others in the nonprofit sector.
Mostly, however, you spend about an hour becoming more self-aware.
We opened the Lunch & Learn Series last week with a look at Giving & Receiving Feedback. This week (Wed, May 27), we examine how we’re Managing Expectations. Next month (Tues, June 23) we’ll explore Effective Board Meetings.
We limit the discussions to 12 so all have a chance to participate. Consider coming to a Lunch & Learn, or at least consider spending some focused time discovering and testing your habits.
It’ll be time well spent.
The Kalamazoo Human Resource Management Association (KHRMA) in association with ONEplace will be offering assistance to area nonprofits in July for Human Resource related questions.
Members of KHRMA have offered to volunteer a few hours of their time in July to assist with Human Resource projects or issues that they may have. Last year's inaugural program saw KHRMA members helping with everything from areas of a strategic plan to handbooks to onboarding practices.
If you are with a nonprofit in the Kalamazoo area and are interested in receiving assistance, please email Ben Cohen, the KHRMA Community Relations Chair, with your name, organization, and a description of your requested assistance. Ben will assign a KHRMA volunteer to assist you, and they will reach out to you directly to schedule a time to help.
Ben's contact information is firstname.lastname@example.org or (269) 552-3248 (office). If you're unsure about anything, please also feel free to reach out to Ben.
Please have all requests in by Friday, June 12, 2015. Thank you!
The Kalamazoo Nonprofit Advocacy Institute is a beginning-level program for organizations that are ready to engage in advocacy but need the skills to do so. It is designed to enhance your nonprofit’s capacity to impact public policy at the local, state and federal levels. Michigan Nonprofit Association has contracted with Erin Skene-Pratt to facilitate the sessions. During the five month program, you and your peers will learn how to engage in policy work with specific strategies tailored for your community.
The Institute will include:
Individualized course learning plan
Five group sessions covering the following topics with customized content:
- June 16, 1-4 pm: “How and Why of Advocacy”
- July 28, 1-4 pm: “Systems and Process: How to institutionalize Public Policy in Your Organization”
- August 25, 1-4 pm: “Effective Techniques for Engaging Policymakers”
- September 22, 1-4 pm: “Engaging Your Team to Affect Change”
- October 20, 9 am-4 pm: “Funding Your Advocacy Efforts”
Monthly one-on-one conference calls with the instructor, Erin Skene-Pratt
Individualized organizational advocacy action plan
Upon completion of the program, you will have a customized advocacy action plan that includes specific objectives for building your organization’s capacity to advocate.
Registration is limited to 10 organizations. Organizations are required to assign a representative from the staff and one from the board of directors to participate in all aspects of the Institute. It is estimated that each participant will spend about 10 hours per month on this course. Organizations must be members of Michigan Nonprofit Association. The cost to participate is $100 per organization.
If you and a board member are interested in participating in the Institute, please request an application and submit by Monday, May 11.
Questions? Contact Erin Skene-Pratt, facilitator, at email@example.com or Thom Andrews, at ThomA@kpl.org
As I approach my third anniversary as director of ONEplace, I’m still amazed at the foresight of those who created it. Year round professional development, free of charge for all nonprofits in Kalamazoo County – it’s quite a gift. Yet, there are many who still don’t know all that ONEplace has to offer.
I want you to help me change that. Here’s how:
1. Let’s get all your staff and board officers on the ONEplace email list. Every Monday, we send a brief email listing our upcoming events. Every month, our events address topics in fundraising, communications, management and leadership. Keep your team in the know. Sign up on our website or send me a list.
2. Give ONEplace 15’ on an upcoming staff meeting. ONEplace offers more than events, including many resources available online. We’ll do a brief presentation with time for Q&A to make sure your staff knows how to take advantage of all our resources. We’ll also hold a drawing for a stylish ONEplace mug! Let us know a good day/time to visit.
I’m grateful to the Irving S. Gilmore Foundation, Kalamazoo Community Foundation, Kalamazoo Public Library and others who make sure you have ONEplace as a resource. I also appreciate your comments and suggestions – so keep ‘em coming.
It usually starts with big plans and a lot of anticipation. As we move further into it, schedules become crunched and other urgent matters crowd our To Do lists. Reality sets in – hard! – and we just need to get it done. Finally, we deliver the project, and it’s…well…good enough.
I’m tired of good enough.
Good enough finishes the job but doesn’t make an impact.
Good enough meets the need but doesn’t move the needle.
Good enough satisfies the stakeholders but doesn’t transform the system.
Good enough is another glass ceiling. We look up. We get a glimpse of what could be, of what’s beyond this glass ceiling. We’re drawn to it. Yet, stretched as we are, our efforts lack the momentum and sharp edge to break through.
An emerging goal at ONEplace is to not just help organizations build capacity but to also help them strengthen capacity. I believe that many of our area’s nonprofit organizations can break through the Good Enough Ceiling, and we want to offer some programmatic umph to support those efforts.
Do you share this concern? I look forward to talking with you over the next several weeks about this. I know that some of you have broken through, and I want to hear and share your stories.
Let’s do this!
Direct Assistance forms one of the cornerstones of ONEplace. Available to all nonprofit staff, board members and other volunteers, our Direct Assistance services help you get a grip on new or uncommon challenges and concerns.
Whether by phone, email or personal meeting, we’ll work directly with you to improve your situation, whatever it may be. These confidential conversations help pinpoint problem areas, identify underlying issues, and determine the best course(s) of action.
Should you desire someone to come alongside your organization to help for a period of time, we will provide recommendations from our endorsed consultant directory. These consultants bring high levels of expertise and considerable nonprofit experience to your organization, often at a discounted rate. Further, they come highly recommended from past clients.
Every month, ONEplace handles around 120 Direct Assistance requests and makes about 10 consultant recommendations. It’s a primary reason ONEplace was founded, and, like all ONEplace services, it’s provided to you free of charge. [learn more]
Our direct assistance services bring a myriad of issues and concerns through our door. While each appointment paints problems with its own palette of colors and textures, one common thread runs through almost every meeting.
Organizational concerns always involve the Board.
Every business, club, and organization takes its cue from the top. Boards, in partnership with the chief executive, set the tone for the nonprofit organization, affecting its climate, culture, and effectiveness.
Collecting and analyzing data since 1994, BoardSource’s biennial reports provide one of the deepest dives into the state of board leadership and trends. Their January 2015 report, Leading with Intent, surfaces three key findings:
- Getting the people right is fundamental – Boards that aren’t thoughtfully composed relating to skills sets, leadership styles, and diversity of thought and background are less likely to excel.
- Boards need to get outside their comfort zones – Boards generally do well at compliance and oversight functions, but strategic and external work challenge them.
- Investments in board development are worth the effort – Building and strengthening a board takes ongoing, intentional effort.
BoardSource, Leading with Intent: A National Index of Nonprofit Board Practices (Washington, D.C.: BoardSource, 2015).
Many executive directors find the amount of time they must spend on board matters surprising. Even though they function as the ED’s superior, boards pose a volunteer management challenge of the highest order.
ONEplace recognizes the need for intentional board development efforts. Our quarterly Board Membership 101 workshop not only provides basic board responsibility training but also serves as a regular reminder for organizations to attend to their own board development. We also stand ready to work with you to develop a focused board recruitment and development plan.
Board service offers individuals unique challenges. It also offers unique opportunities for personal growth and enjoyment. Intentional board development helps your organization strike this balance.
It’s not uncommon to be surprised by people and events. When you least expect it, a situation arises, a problem occurs, or a discussion ensues that throws you for a loop. It’s not something you’ve ever dealt with before, and you’re not sure what to make of it…what to do about it.
You’re not alone.
Everyone – even a seasoned executive – encounters a baffling challenge from time to time. Try as we might, we can’t seem to figure it out. We need to get some distance, some perspective on the matter.
That’s why ONEplace offers direct assistance services.
We’re prepared to listen, inquire, and help you come to grips with your new challenge or concern. Depending on the nature of the concern, we may have suggestions, resources, or recommendations of actions to take or people to consult.
Don’t let a festering issue hold you back. We’re here to be at your service.
At ONEplace, this marks the midpoint of our three-year plan (July 2013 – June 2016). Leadership development is job ONE stands as one of three pillars of this plan. Here’s an update on this pillar’s progress to date and direction for the coming year.
This past fall, we arrived at our working definition of leadership: taking full responsibility and ownership of your role(s); listening and learning from others, and; teaching and sharing with others. We’re expanding our intensive experience offerings to facilitate development of this type of leadership.
The ONEplace Nonprofit Leadership Academy offers an intensive development experience for those in supervisory roles at medium to large organizations. Our Peer Learning Groups provide this experience for managers, supervisors, and directors of small to medium organizations. Later this winter/spring, we’ll introduce a retreat experience suitable for anyone wishing to explore their leadership capacity.
We’re also in the midst of pilot testing coaching services for new executive directors within their first year of service. Expect a formalized program to roll out later this year.
Also, expect things to change…hopefully for the better. This continues to be a work in progress for us as we seek to provide an array of events and experiences to meet your and your organization’s leadership development needs.