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The Critical Role of Pro Bono Consultants in Nonprofit Strategic Planning

June 11, 2015Alec Green

How does a nonprofit with 6 full-time employees find the time, resources, and expertise to develop a long-term talent management plan?  In our ongoing interview series with Foundation partners, we caught up with Megan Chery, Manager of Development and Special Projects at The Alliance for Water Efficiency about her first consulting project through the HR Pro Bono Corps (HRPBC).   Chery was paired with Ginger LaBine, an organizational development expert, who volunteered her time and expertise to help the team at The Alliance for Water efficiency develop a strategic plan to guide the future hiring and professional development of the organization.  Here are some of the highlights:

Tell us about the Alliance for Water Efficiency.

The Alliance for Water Efficiency was founded in 2007 and today is the only North American nonprofit organization dedicated solely to the efficient and sustainable use of water.  We are involved in advocacy, education and training, development of resources and technical support to help communities, business and individuals use water more efficiently, and finally we conduct research on issues related to water efficiency.  In 2014, we were awarded the U.S. Water Prize for innovating and leading on this important component of sustainability. 

What is the structure of the organization?

We have a team of 6 full-time employees located in Chicago and in California.  We also work with a network of consultants around the country.  Each team member here is responsible for a different function.  Certain administrative functions fall under the purview of Operations, and our President is primarily responsible for the areas of recruiting and talent development.  As a small team, HR strategy was not an area we could devote significant resources to in the past.  

How did you learn about the HR Pro Bono Corps?

We were first introduced to the Cornerstone OnDemand Foundation and HR Pro Bono Corps through the Gift of Learning portal (now NonprofitReady.org).    When we went through our strategic planning process with the help of a third-party consultant, we identified some specific challenges around talent management and growth, and knew we didn’t have the HR expertise on staff to solve them.  The HR Pro Bono Corps seemed like a great opportunity to bring in an organizational expert to help us work through these challenges.

What were some of these challenges?

As a small organization, we began to be concerned about how to efficiently manage our growth.  We knew that as we brought on new team members, our organizational structure may need to change.  In addition, we wanted to prioritize new roles based on the specific competencies that would be key to achieving our mission.

Most importantly, as a small team we knew that each staff member is the owner of a wealth of institutional knowledge.  Therefore, any change in staffing could have a significant impact on our ability to provide services to our members and achieve our mission.  We wanted to be very well prepared for any unexpected change in staffing and ensure our organization could carry on seamlessly under any number of scenarios.

How did you arrive at the scope for this specific project?

As we proposed the project and in conversations with our pro bono volunteer, scoped it out with our volunteer, we began to think about the entire organization, staffing, and resources.  We had an idea but in working with our volunteer, we hammered out the specific deliverables, and tasks to achieve each of the stated goals.

Tell us about your Pro Bono Volunteer.

First of all, Ginger was fantastic and went way above and beyond our expectations.  She is a talent development leader for a state agency and also for an environmental agency.  So there were quite a few parallels that helped make this project a big success.  She really understood the substance of our work and her experience in diverse corporate environments also equipped her really well to work with a team of our size. She had incredible patience considering we had just a basic understanding of the subject matter and limited resources within the team here.   

What types of deliverables did you receive?  And how have you put these recommendations into practice?

From the outset, we put together a specific scope with specific deliverables that we were working toward.  For the most part we followed the scope, but there were a few things that came up as we went along.  Our bi-weekly meetings kept us on track and Ginger was fantastic about helping us work toward these deliverables. 

We came out of this project with a few key deliverables were very important to demonstrate the impact of this strategic planning process to our board and to other stakeholders.  For example, we now have documents that give us a better sense of what our future organization will look like as we grow and expand and what specific roles are needed to expand our work and achieve our mission.  We also went through a number of exercises to determine how current staff fits into those roles.  As a result, we have a very clear plan to both develop current staff and be more targeted in filling needs for new roles.  We also have a game plan for major changes in staffing.  Should something happen to one of our staff members, we have a plan in place to manage that transition seamlessly ensuring we don’t miss a beat in providing services to our members or achieving our mission.  

These are tools we are actively putting into practice now to fuel our growth planning.  We are using these tools for developing current staff potential, we are making important changes to our performance appraisals, and looking at ownership of different needs in the organization in different ways.

What advice would you give to a nonprofit professional considering a project with the HR Pro Bono Corps?

1.  Make sure you have staff resources to invest the time and energy in the project. Although you have engaged a pro bono volunteer to spearhead the process, your staff is going to have to do the lion share of the work to make it successful.   And the best result will come when staff has ownership in the deliverables.

2.  You have to find the right balance between having one point person and engaging all the other stakeholders, colleagues, and board members.  Getting internal buy-in and involvement from my full team and board was critical for us and validated this work.   But you have to be careful about having too many cooks in the kitchen and pulling resources away from more programmatic priorities.  With the support of Ginger, we were able to strike that balance and complete a project that positions our organization for continued growth in the years ahead.

 

Thank you to Megan for sharing her experience with the HR Pro Bono Corps.  And a big thanks to Ginger LaBine for giving so much of her time over the past year to support The Alliance for Water Efficiency.  Learn more about the HR Pro Bono Corps today and stay tuned for more stories from our nonprofit partners and volunteers.

About Alec Green

As Chief Marketing Evangelist, Alec Green is responsible for developing the overall marketing plan and strategy for the Foundation, executing all outbound communications, increasing visibility of the Foundation’s programs, and building engagement with our partners... more

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The Power of Storytelling for Nonprofits

June 09, 2015Alec Green

Storytelling has become one of the more popular buzzwords in marketing and development circles. Many nonprofits use storytelling in the form of web profiles, blogs, and videos to demonstrate impact to supporters and donors.  In recent years, however, storytelling has also emerged as a powerful way to engage employees and volunteers.

Low company engagement is estimated to result in 300 billion in losses in the U.S. Keeping  nonprofit staff and volunteers interested and motivated cuts down on human resource issues like burnout, high turnover rates and the numbers of workers who stay on without a strong commitment to the success of the nonprofit’s mission.

NonprofitReady.org recently held a webinar entitled Moving Hearts and Minds: The Power of Storytelling within Nonprofits. During the session, Salima Hemani, Organizational Development and Change Management Executive Consultant and Leadership Coach, and founder of SZH Consulting, LLC, describes 4 steps nonprofits can take to use storytelling to increase organizational effectiveness.

1. Find stories that demonstrate why your organization exists

Look for stories within your organization that can remind staff and volunteers of why they started working with you in the first place. You need stories that can inspire, touching both their hearts and their minds. You can find powerful stories from sources within your organization as well as from the people and communities you serve. Some of the stories you might find include:

  • A day-in-the-life account or profile of a staff member, volunteer or client.
  • A personal story that shows how your organization is creating an impact in the community.
  • Your organization’s legacy story that reminds staff and volunteers of your vision and mission.

2. Train Staff to Find and Develop Stories

Learn to tell stories and train your staff to find and develop them, too. Some people may seem like natural storytellers, but storytelling is a skill that anyone can develop. To make sure your stories are impactful and engaging, work with your team to build stories along a narrative arc:

  • Start the story with a hook that captures your audience’s attention and introduces the main character.
  • Present the challenge the hero faces or struggle she or he overcomes.
  • Bring the story to a climax in which the main character is called to be courageous.
  • Move to the point where the protagonist changes her or his mental outlook or solves the problem.
  • Show the result of the change and describe what that looks like.
  • Conclude the story with a resolution of the problem and the message you’re trying to convey.

3. Share Stories

Cultivate a supportive environment in which staff members and employees feel empowered to tell stories that inspire and increase engagement. Sharing the stories needs to be as nonthreatening as possible and you need to express your commitment to creating the storytelling culture. To share stories and encourage others in your organization to do the same, train everyone in your organization on how to deliver stories.

  • Start stories with an immediate jump into action.
  • Provide several clear, concise and vivid details.
  • Connect with the audience.
  • Be aware of the message you’re trying to convey and your intent in telling the story.
  • Use silence for impact and emphasis.

4. Create a Storytelling Culture

Learning and giving your staff training on telling stories is only productive if you encourage storytelling and create an organizational culture that encourages people to engage in storytelling. You have to have a strong commitment to storytelling if you want to encourage people to tell and listen to these stories. Then, you have to give people in your organization plenty of opportunities to share the stories they’ve developed.

  • Lead the storytelling culture from the top down.
  • Develop a story bank where people can go to read or view stories.
  • Identify a Chief Storyteller on your team.
  • Provide opportunities for employees to share their stories in team meetings and, if appropriate, outside the organization on your blog, video channel, and no social media.  

Learn more about why storytelling is crucial to your organization’s success and how to implement a storytelling process within your nonprofit by watching our NonprofitReady.org webinar Moving Hearts and Minds: The Power of Storytelling within Nonprofits. Thank you to Salima Hemani for her ongoing support of NonprofitReady.org and the HR Pro Bono Corps.

About Alec Green

As Chief Marketing Evangelist, Alec Green is responsible for developing the overall marketing plan and strategy for the Foundation, executing all outbound communications, increasing visibility of the Foundation’s programs, and building engagement with our partners... more

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And the Winner is...

May 20, 2015Alec Green

We are proud to announce the winner of the inaugural HR Pro Bono Corps Volunteer of the Year Award.  Rachel Marino Vital, Manager IT Training at the University of Miami, has been a member of the HR Pro Bono Corps for over 2 years.  In that time, she has consulted to nonprofits such as Team Rubicon, conducted webinars, and led a week-long online collaborative learning session for over 200 nonprofits.

The HR Pro Bono Corps matches HR professionals like Rachel with nonprofits that want to build out their performance, learning, and succession strategies.  Over 70% of our volunteers come from the Cornerstone client base.  And we are proud to add the HR Pro Bono Corps Volunteer of the Year to the Cornerstone Convergence Client Rave Awards.  

In this short video, Justin Wedell, Manager with the Foundation's Nonprofit Empowerment Program, shares some background on the HR Pro Bono Corps and Rachel's contributions to our nonprofit partners.  And Rachel talks about her experience as a volunteer and why other HR professionals should get involved:

Congratulations to Rachel and thank you to all our volunteers that have given their time and expertise. Get involved today! Learn how you can volunteer or how your nonprofit can benefit from the HR Pro Bono Corps.

About Alec Green

As Chief Marketing Evangelist, Alec Green is responsible for developing the overall marketing plan and strategy for the Foundation, executing all outbound communications, increasing visibility of the Foundation’s programs, and building engagement with our partners... more

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Build your Nonprofit Profile on LinkedIn

May 05, 2015Alec Green

LinkedIn is one of the best places to find potential volunteers, employees, board members, and donors, but many of us have not considered all the ways in which we can use the professional networking tool to build our organizational capacity.

Marc W. Halpert, LinkedIn Trainer and Evangelist with Connect2Collaborate recently hosted a NonprofitReady.org webinar entitled “Nonprofit Organizations on LinkedIn: Beyond the Personal Profile” which covered the best ways get attention and reinforce nonprofit brand image on LinkedIn. Halpert detailed 3 ways in which Nonprofits should use LinkedIn to bolster their organization:

1. Pump Up Company and Personal Profiles

Most nonprofits have a LinkedIn company page with basic information about the organization. Because nonprofits compete with each other for attention, volunteers, employees and donors, it is imperative to stand out from the crowd. To do this, you need to make your profile unique, informative and easy to navigate.  Halpert recommends you:

  • Highlight your company logo. Put your organization logo near the top of the profile page, and make it clickable to your nonprofit website.
  • Use the description field. Write a succinct description of your organization that would be informative to a wide range of audiences.  Include your top SEO keywords to improve your organization’s ranking in relevant searches.  
  • Make a splash. Incorporate bold graphics and videos to engage new visitors. 
  • Post updates often. Include news, human interest stories, your organization’s successes, information for the public, and blogs.  Be sure to include images to increase engagement.
  • Be helpful.   Use updates to connect readers to other sites.
  • Spread the word. Include social media buttons on events pages, and encourage likes and shares.

2. Join Groups for Collaboration

LinkedIn groups allow you to connect with like-minded people you can then collaborate with to accomplish goals. You can find groups to join or create your own groups. Search for a narrowly focused group of people, such as accounting professionals, or go even deeper to segment these audiences by geography, educational background, or interests outside of work.

When you request to join a group, the moderator chooses whether or not to let you join; the same works to your advantage when you create your own group. Use the gear icon to find out details about a group you are thinking of joining. It will tell you how many members, how much conversation is going on, and give a growth chart for the group. Once in a group, you can make closer connections and perhaps make a subgroup to discuss issues more privately.

3. Search Efficiently for Team Members and Donors

Once you boost your connections on LinkedIn, you have a powerful tool for reaching out to prospective members and donors for your organization. Skip the standard search box and go immediately to advanced search for industries, specialties and locations. You can also place LinkedIn ads to find the type of person your organization needs with a very small budget. Even a 1% clickthrough rate on your ad shows that you are reaching the right audience for your organization.

**

A big thank you to Mark Halpert for sharing his LinkedIn expertise with the NonprofitReady community. To get more timely advice on using LinkedIn for your nonprofit organization, sign up to watch the entire webinar on NonprofitReady.org. For a wealth of other resources on LinkedIn, be sure to check out Connect2Collaborate. 

Image courtesy of jscreationzs at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

About Alec Green

As Chief Marketing Evangelist, Alec Green is responsible for developing the overall marketing plan and strategy for the Foundation, executing all outbound communications, increasing visibility of the Foundation’s programs, and building engagement with our partners... more

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Partnering with Spark to Inspire Students and Mentors

May 01, 2015Alec Green

Jonathan is a seventh-grade student living in South L.A., about 15 miles from the Cornerstone office.  In many ways, he’s like any other pre-teen: inquisitive and confident, confused and easily distracted. 

In addition to his core curriculum at school, Jonathan is part of in an innovative student enrichment program called Spark.  Spark matches 7th and 8th graders with mentors working in career fields aligned with the students’ interests.  I have been Jonathan’s Spark mentor since February and we’re preparing to present his final project at Discovery Night in May.  Officially, we’re developing a business plan to manufacture and sell a street soccer ball.

Unofficially, I’m helping him figure out what he’s capable of doing and trying to inspire him to do even more.

At the beginning of the semester, Jonathan told me he wants to start his own business. Before long, I discovered that Jonathan has all the qualities of a successful entrepreneur. He is an active listener and asks insightful questions.  He is hungry to soak up information and confidently incorporates new concepts into our ongoing discussions.  And like any effective manager, he pushes me to help make his project a success.   

In our 8 weeks together, Jonathan isn’t going to learn how to launch a business. And that’s not really the point of these workplace apprenticeships.  He will, however, learn to recognize his innate strengths, how to set lofty goals, and be inspired to believe that he can achieve them.  In addition, Spark provides these students the opportunity to visit a new part of their city, interact with people from different backgrounds, discover new ways of communicating, and immerse themselves in a work environment very different from what they see on a daily basis.

There are more than 60 Spark mentors here at Cornerstone and hundreds more across the country. The 2-hour weekly apprenticeships are the most visible part of the program.  But there is a ton of work that goes on behind the scenes throughout the year to ensure an enriching experience for both the students and mentors, all of which falls on the shoulders of a small staff of Spark employees and volunteers.  Their team has done an amazing job creating a rich experience for the current number of students.  But in order to expand to more schools and cities, Spark had to rethink the way in which they deliver the program.  As Kelly Dwyer, Chief Knowledge Officer at Spark explained in an interview on our blog last year, online had to become a more significant part of the student and mentor experience.  To this end, The Cornerstone OnDemand Foundation awarded Spark a technology grant to develop SparkOnline - an online platform to deliver structured resources, project plans, eLearning and collaboration tools to both students and mentors.

We are proud to partner with Spark on this new learning initiative and excited to share the story of our work together in our new micro-documentary:

Please take 3 minutes to watch our new video on the Spark program and SparkOnline.  Share it with someone you would like to inspire. And consider the difference you could make in the life of a middle-school student by learning more about volunteer opportunities with Spark in your community.  

About Alec Green

As Chief Marketing Evangelist, Alec Green is responsible for developing the overall marketing plan and strategy for the Foundation, executing all outbound communications, increasing visibility of the Foundation’s programs, and building engagement with our partners... more

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5 Steps to Improving Your LinkedIn Profile

April 28, 2015Alec Green

LinkedIn is a valuable tool for anyone looking to connect with others in their field and advance their careers. For nonprofit professionals, this social networking site also offers a rich source of potential volunteers, board members, supporters, and donations that can advance the organization's cause and garner their staff the recognition they deserve.

In the webinar Why You Do What You Do: Better LinkedIn Personal Profiles for Nonprofiteers, Marc W. Halpert from Connect2Collaborate outlines the ways in which nonprofit professionals can leverage LinkedIn to distinguish themselves and advance their careers and their nonprofits. In the session, Halpert describes 5 ways in which nonprofit professionals can improve their use of LinkedIn in order to stand out.

Make your profile complete

Your LinkedIn profile will be viewed by many different people, each looking to know different things about you and your experience.  Start by uploading an approachable, yet professional photo of yourself. Include honors and awards you have earned, even if you feel awkward about displaying the signs of your success. List plenty of contact information, including other websites, phone numbers, and social networking pages to enable people to reach you easily.

Describe why you do what you do

To stand out, go deeper than your resume. Create a vibrant page full of engaging photos that depict you and your nonprofit's work. Write a thoughtful headline and create a memorable summary that highlights not only your skills, but your passions and interests.

Connect with new people

Most people know about using LinkedIn to stay in contact with professional colleagues, classmates, friends, and associates.  But LinkedIn offers many ways to build support for your nonprofit and expand your network. For instance, you can distribute relevant content to individuals, groups, or all of your connections. You can update your status to reflect what your work or to promote upcoming events. The more you take part in relevant conversations on LinkedIn, he more likely you will be to find the collaborators you and your nonprofit need to be successful.

Use multimedia and graphics for visual effect

Using visual representations of your work is a great way to enhance your LinkedIn profile. Graphics or multimedia associated with your organization or particular project can easily be added to the background picture, as well as in the summary and experience sections. Examples of the type of visuals you can use include photography, artwork, videos, pdfs, slideshows, and links.

Use analytics to determine the effectiveness of your posts

LinkedIn provides analytics on the relative engagement of each of your updates. With LinkedIn analytics, you can see who has read, shared, and commented on your posts from each level of your connections. This provides rich insight into which updates are of most interest to your connections and what types of content will help build your profile over time.

Creating a professional LinkedIn profile will make visitors to your page more willing to learn about you and your organization. Build your personal brand over time and stay in the habit of updating your profile on a regular basis. Consistent, engaging updates will keep you top of mind with your connections and help build support for your organization or personal causes.

Register for free on NonprofitReady.org to watch the complete webinar with detailed examples and best practices for improving your LinkedIn profile.  And don’t miss Part II of our webinar series with Marc Halpert this Thursday at 1 PM ET on Nonprofit Organizations on LinkedIn: Beyond the LinkedIn Personal Profile.  Registration is free and space is limited.

About Alec Green

As Chief Marketing Evangelist, Alec Green is responsible for developing the overall marketing plan and strategy for the Foundation, executing all outbound communications, increasing visibility of the Foundation’s programs, and building engagement with our partners... more

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Nonprofit Mobile Strategy in 8 Easy Steps

March 27, 2015Alec Green

At every marketing conference I’ve attended in each of the past 10 years, there’s always the same bold prediction:  This is the year of mobile!

According to a recent report from Comscore, the number of mobile users surpassed desktop users in 2014.  Perhaps we have finally reached the mobile tipping point.  If 2015 is, in fact, “the year of mobile,” what marketing strategies should a nonprofit adopt to engage their mobile audience?     

Julia Campbell from Julia Campbell Social Marketing recently hosted a webinar as part of our NonprofitReady.org webinar series entitled How to Implement a Mobile Strategy for Your Nonprofit.  In the session, Campbell details 8 ways in which any nonprofit can get started with a mobile strategy:

  1. Create content designed for mobile. Mobile content needs to be unique, eye-catching, visual, and easily digestible.  Is your content concise and stimulating enough to grab your listener's attention when they are waiting in line or watching television?  If not, it will likely be ignored on a mobile device.
  2. Overhaul your long, graphic-intensive newsletter. According to a study by Litmus, 43% of emails are opened on a mobile device.  Your mobile readers will respond to short descriptions and a very clear call-to-action rather than paragraph-intensive descriptions and multiple requests.  There are a number of email marketing services to help, but Campbell points out that ConstantContact has some great email marketing resources for nonprofits.  
  3. Build your website using responsive design. Your website is your most important marketing asset.  Responsive websites are more expensive, but will enable your website to render as effectively as possible on different screen sizes.
  4. Think like a journalist. Catching your reader’s attention is an even greater challenge on mobile and most readers will only skim your blog headlines and email subject lines.  Most mobile email users only see the first 38 characters of a subject line, so keep it short and make it relevant.  
  5. Use white space strategically. Less is always more on a mobile device and images will always be easier to absorb than long blocks of text. Allow plenty of white space between your body and calls to action and prioritize short paragraphs and bulleted lists to make your content easier to read.
  6. Incorporate visuals. Have at least 1 or 2 photos in every piece of content.  And make each of your visuals clickable links back to your landing page, YouTube channel, or website.
  7. Make your Call to Action (CTA) crystal clear and compelling. In every piece of content, ask your supporters to do only one thing.  Figure out the one action that is most important and save the others for your next email or blog.  
  8. Don't build a mobile app. If your supporters aren't going to use your app on a daily basis, they won't bother downloading it.  Most mobile users download apps for gaming, social networking, or content consumption.  Ask yourself what you could accomplish with an app that you couldn’t accomplish with a well-executed mobile strategy.

Mobile is becoming an increasingly important part of any online marketing strategy.  And the number one rule of online marketing -- "Always Be Testing" – applies to your mobile strategy as well.  Test all your mobile content on multiple screen types including email, video, social media, and (of course) your website.  One of the best tools I've found for testing the appearance of any URL across devices is the Quirktools.com Screenfly.  This free resource allows you to do responsive screen testing on various-sized monitors, tablets, and smartphones.

Campbell’s overarching point is that, for any nonprofit, mobile strategy involves much more than building a website that looks beautiful on a smartphone and tablet.  Mobile strategy requires marketers to use mobile-friendly design, and messaging in every communication and fundraising channel.   Developing messages and calls-to-action for a mobile audience will enable your supporters to engage with your content and seamlessly take whatever actions are most important to your organization.  

Watch the full webinar on NonprofitReady.org. And be sure to visit Julia Campbell Social Marketing for some great free nonprofit marketing resources.

 

 

Image courtesy of StockImages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

About Alec Green

As Chief Marketing Evangelist, Alec Green is responsible for developing the overall marketing plan and strategy for the Foundation, executing all outbound communications, increasing visibility of the Foundation’s programs, and building engagement with our partners... more

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If I Knew then What I Know Now: Lessons Learned from the Impact Grant Recipients

February 26, 2015Alec Green

Our annual Impact Grant cycle is in full swing.  Started in 2012, the Impact Grant program enables nonprofits to expand the reach and impact of an existing education program through online training of their volunteers, beneficiaries, and community partners. Selected organizations receive a two-year donation of Cornerstone OnDemand’s learning and development software, services, and HR consulting, valued at approximately $1 million.

Over the past few weeks we’ve spoken with a number of organizations that are considering the Impact Grant.  After attending our introductory webinar that details the requirements, many of these prospective grantees came back with great questions about the implementation process and the skills, time, and resources required to be successful.   To address these questions and share their experience with the software, we invited three current grantees to take part in our 2015 Chat with the Grantees:

The panelists came from three very different organizations in terms of size, target audience, and use of the Cornerstone technology.  Over the course of our 1-hour discussion, Renee, Cindy, and Sarah provided many actionable recommendations to any organization considering the Impact Grant or any large-scale technology implementation.  Some of the best “lessons learned” from our current Impact Grantees include:

  • Think Big!  In the case of the Ounce, Renee saw the Impact Grant as their opportunity for transformational impact.  Most of their training was being done in person and offered only in Illinois.  They soon realized that in order to scale and offer a catalog of courses to a national audience, online training was the only way to do it.  D2L, in only the first year of their Impact Grant, went from having trained 10,000 adults on their old online platform to 150,000 using Cornerstone.
  • Assign a project owner and ensure their time is properly allocated.  Cindy comes from a relatively-small organization, but had one member of her programs team who became the “LMS expert” ended up spending 60-70% of her time on the implementation. 
  • But don’t try to do it alone.  Sarah recommends you have executive-level support before considering the Impact Grant and dedicated staff with the time and talent to manage the project.  Renee has a senior-level steering committee that meets regularly to manage the roll-out of their new platform.  She compliments the executive team with a learning council made up of training experts from different business units to develop the content and agree upon core functionality of the new LMS.
  • Invest in content development.  If you don’t have the expertise in house, look for external support.   Cindy has worked with Aptara, a media company specializing in digital content development, to roll out an updated version of their Stewards of Children online course.  Sarah is working with a consultant in the Foundation’s HR Pro Bono Corps to transform BGCA’s executive onboarding program into a blended curriculum.
  • Allow time for a pilot period.  Renee has brought in a diverse group of learners in terms of age, geography, and experience levels to provide feedback, test all the systems, and drive some key improvements prior to launch.  In addition, the Ounce was able to leverage a few of these beta users to provide testimonials and help spread the word about their new platform.
  • Plan your customer support model.  D2L struggled initially to provide customer support to the large number of learners on the new system.  Cindy explored various customer support models including chat, telephone, and email, before deciding to outsource the customer support function to a third party to address the myriad questions from the 150,000 (and growing) learners taking the Stewards of Children course on the new LMS.
  • Don’t expect perfection.  Renee recommends you “don’t try to perfect everything right out of the gate.”  But have a clear sense of how your organization will track progress for the project and set realistic milestones and measures of success.

Big thanks to The Ounce, Darkness to Light, and Boys and Girls Club of America for taking part in our first-ever Chat with the Impact Grantees.  Is your organization ready to join them in leveraging technology to scale an external education program?  Find out more about the Impact Grant program today.

About Alec Green

As Chief Marketing Evangelist, Alec Green is responsible for developing the overall marketing plan and strategy for the Foundation, executing all outbound communications, increasing visibility of the Foundation’s programs, and building engagement with our partners... more

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Assessing Nonprofit Financial Health

December 04, 2014Alec Green

As the calendar turns to December, many nonprofits are reviewing their 2014 results and planning for the new year.

These strategic planning sessions are a great opportunity for nonprofit professionals to evaluate the health of their organization and determine what new investments or operating expenses to prioritize.  In our most recent HR Pro Bono Corps webinar, David Greco of Social Sector Partners, provided an in-depth overview of how nonprofit leaders can use their organization’s financial statements to better inform those decisions.

Financial statements such as balance sheets, income statements, and IRS Form 990s are often viewed as the most reliable and accessible data sources for any evaluation of financial performance.  But Greco cautions that nonprofit leaders who use these statements for strategic planning should view them through a very different lens than that of their accountant or tax auditor.

Greco provides how nonprofit leaders can analyze their financial results to address two critical questions:

Question #1:  Are we staying within our means?

Put another way, did we generate enough revenue (e.g. grants, donations, earned income) to cover our operating expenses (e.g. salaries, program fees, administrative costs).  

One of the first places many managers would go for this information is the Statement of Activities (also known as the income statement). In the sample Statement of Activities below, ABC Center has $1.262M in total expenses and $1.016M in total revenue. With - $246M in total change in net assets, this nonprofit appear to be running a deficit. And from an accounting standpoint, they are. But for the purposes of evaluating the operational health of the organization – “are we living within our means” – Greco recommends focusing on the unrestricted column under Operating Activity. By considering the unrestricted revenue  – the only dollars that are available to pay for operating expenses – ABC Center has $1.707M in unrestricted revenue to cover $1.262M in expenses, which yields a positive change in net asset or operating surplus of $445M.

By analyzing the figures in the unrestricted column of the organization’s income statement, nonprofit leaders can get a more realistic assessment of the available revenue that can be used to cover its operating expenses.

Nonprofit Income Statement

The second question relates to an organization’s ability to manage risk.

Question #2: Can your organization afford to pursue new opportunities?

When an organization is running at an operational surplus, the Executive Director and Board might consider expanding high-performing programs, hiring more employees, or enhancing their infrastructure.  But what are the risks of these new investments?  And how much financial cushion should the organization have in place to withstand unexpected expenditures.

The Statement of Financial Position, better known as the balance sheet, provides good visibility into the nonprofit’s ability to handle risk.  The balance sheet includes the organization’s assets – everything the organization owns – and its liabilities – everything that is owed to them.  The difference between assets and liabilities is the Net Assets or the nonprofit’s net worth. 

In evaluating net assets on the balance sheet, Greco recommends zeroing in on the liquid net assets – those that are both unrestricted (accessible today) and liquid (cash or cash equivalents).  Managers can then use this figure to calculate the number of months the organization could operate exclusively with cash on hand or availability through a line of credit. 

There are no set guidelines on how many months of liquidity the organization should have on hand.  20-25% of nonprofits have between 3-6 months of available cash, and Greco considers this to be a good benchmark.  Once the organization falls below 3 months of cash on hand, any delay in funding or unanticipated costs become a catastrophic event.  In most cases, having more than 6 months provides an adequate safety net and a good opportunity to consider new investments. 

Nonprofit Months of Liquidity

Our webinar on Nonprofit Finance Fundamentals covers these key financial sustainability issues in much greater detail.  Greco also provides actionable recommendations on how nonprofit leaders can use financial information to better communicate their strategic priorities and funding needs to their board and supporters.  View the full recording along with more than 200 nonprofit resources at no cost on NonprofitReady.org.

About Alec Green

As Chief Marketing Evangelist, Alec Green is responsible for developing the overall marketing plan and strategy for the Foundation, executing all outbound communications, increasing visibility of the Foundation’s programs, and building engagement with our partners... more

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Sparking the Next Generation of Students and Mentors

November 18, 2014Alec Green

Spark is a national nonprofit that partners with schools and workplaces to match 7th and 8th graders with mentors working in career fields aligned with the students’ strengths and interests. Recently, Spark became a strategic partner of the Cornerstone OnDemand Foundation and has been awarded a technology grant to build a new online platform to deliver enhanced student and mentor training.Kelly Dwyer

We caught up with Kelly Dwyer, Chief Knowledge Officer at Spark, to learn more about the inspiration for this unique mentoring program, some of the challenges they have faced in their first 10 years, and how they are using the Cornerstone platform to engage even more students and mentors across the country.

Background

Tell us about Spark and the inspiration for the program.
Spark was created in 2004 in the San Francisco Bay Area after two entrepreneurs and educators, Chris Balme and Melia Dicker, noticed that their middle school students didn’t see a connection between what they did in school and their future goals.  Chris and Melia could see how student disengagement led students down a path of lower attendance, lower grades and eventually dropping out or graduating unprepared.  The big idea was to connect these same students to workplaces and adult role models right in their own communities. Students gain an opportunity to develop a relationship with someone who has a job they admire, get inspired to dream big for their own futures and make connections between the classroom and the ‘real world.’ In addition, adult mentors have a chance to work with an enthusiastic young person and gain some important leadership skills themselves.   

What were the early days like for the mentors and students? 
Spark’s program initially occurred in the summer months when students were paired with mentors in one apprenticeship.  We learned a great deal from Spark’s early years, especially about how to make great matches between mentors and students, and what kind of support our staff could give to mentors and students to help them have a great experience. Over the years, we’ve become even more sophisticated about tracking our students’ outcomes and gathering feedback from our mentors. As a result, we’ve made a few changes to our program, most notably that in our current model, students participate in two apprenticeships over an entire school year (rather than the summer), and we now give mentors weekly guidance on the specific skills they should talk about with their students, as well as more resources for how to create great Spark projects and organize student-friendly activities at their workplace.

What were some of the early successes and wins?
Feedback from the first cohorts of Spark students was very inspiring!  You can watch one of the first Spark students, Sonya, share her story on TV. Once we began tracking quantitative program outcomes, the data supported the anecdotal evidence of the success of Spark’s model. One of the most exciting things is that when we were able to collect report card data on a number of students, we found that students – especially those who came in just barely above a “C” average – increased their grades during their apprenticeships. This was really exciting because Spark is not a tutoring program.  This was proof that our focus on engagement and “soft skills” was critical to students’ success.

Early on, what were your long-term goals for the program?
We always had a vision that we could bring Spark apprenticeships to students outside of the San Francisco Bay Area.  The high school dropout rate was on the rise across the country, and we saw our students leaving the program better prepared for the important transition into high school.  Our vision was for apprenticeship learning to become a part of the middle school experience for more students – engaging them at the right time in their identity development and helping them get excited about learning.

Complication

What were some of the challenges you faced with the program?
Recruiting enough mentors each semester remains a challenge, but we have seen improvement by building partnerships with companies and working to recruit 20-50 mentors at each office location. As a national program, there are region-specific challenges, such as a lack of public transportation infrastructure, that each region works closely with staff, school-based and other partners to address. Cornerstone OnDemand remains a lead partner for Spark in helping to overcome these challenges by being the organization’s largest mentor source nationwide, as well as covering the cost of transportation for many Los Angeles students.

Additionally, as we grow the number of students we serve across the country, we not only need a proven model that withstands geographic expansion, we also need a program infrastructure that can help us to provide a consistently high quality experience for students and mentors without adding exponential costs.

Turning Point

What prompted you to consider building out an online training program?
After each program cycle, we collect feedback from everyone involved. We are committed to giving students and mentors the best experience possible!  We began to hear a consistent theme from mentors - they wanted more training and easier access to sample projects, session agendas, activities and more. As we were already operating in four regions across the country, and because we have limited resources, we needed a way to deliver these program upgrades without increasing staff or expenses. We began to see this as an opportunity to streamline how we deliver our program and actually improve quality at the same time.  

What experience did you or the organization have with online training before making this switch?
My first job out of college was as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ukraine, and one of the projects I worked on was bringing internet to a school so that teachers could access videos and see what American schools were like. This was in 2000, still in the earlier days of “online training,” but there were some great websites where teachers would post videos, share lesson plans, etc. The first time I developed content for online training was when I worked at another nonprofit, Citizen Schools, which also creates apprenticeship-learning experiences for students. At the time, the organization was facing a similar business problem: how do we work with a greater number of students and volunteers across the country while maintaining quality and keeping costs down? I helped to develop online trainings for initial onboarding, and saw firsthand how it could be critical in helping an organization grow to scale.

Resolution

What was the organization's reaction when you were awarded the technology grant from Cornerstone?  How did your goals change?
It was an absolute game changer. We had been talking for many months about moving some elements of our program model and resources online, but the grant gave us the “how.” It enabled us to think even bigger and integrate features and functionality that we hadn’t originally conceptualized.  The grant made it possible for us to create more than a training platform.  The project became the start of a new program delivery infrastructure. One thing that is unique about our platform is that we are going to go beyond just training resources online. The platform will become the guide for how students and mentors work together to set goals and work on specific skills. Without this kind of technology, we would be relying on our staff to do that for caseloads of 75-100 students, which would never be possible.

What are your goals for the program once the platform is complete?
Through a phased pilot and rollout process, we will evaluate these program goals:

  • Provide mentors with structured resources for working with students each week
  • Help students set and achieve goals related to building specific 21st century skills with the help of their mentors and teachers
  • Allow a space for collaboration between mentors and other mentors, mentors and students and mentors and classroom teachers
  • Enable more middle school students across the country to demonstrate skills key to high school success and have a successful transition to high school

Where do you see this program in two years?
More and more education research shows that blended learning experiences (those that have a combination of online and in-person elements) are most effective for students when they are truly personalized. Our online platform will be a revolutionary way to bring together personalized learning, mentoring and 21st century skill building to support high school readiness and healthy student development. As we move forward, we hope to add more resources and diverse activities to the platform, offering students a range of options for building each skill – allowing them really to tailor their experience. We also hope that the platform will be able to use data about student performance and behavior to guide Spark students down a positive path.

Learn how your business can make a difference in the lives of middle-school students in your community at www.SparkProgram.org

Could your nonprofit benefit from a technology grant to engage your employees and volunteers?  Learn more about the Cornerstone OnDemand Foundation's Strategic Partnership and Impact Grant programs.

 

 

About Alec Green

As Chief Marketing Evangelist, Alec Green is responsible for developing the overall marketing plan and strategy for the Foundation, executing all outbound communications, increasing visibility of the Foundation’s programs, and building engagement with our partners... more

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#IamNonprofitReady featuring Heather Brown from Starfish Family Services

October 30, 2014Alec Green

Heather Brown is a Program Manager at Starfish Family Services, a community-based nonprofit serving vulnerable children and families in metropolitan Detroit. Heather has spent her entire career in the nonprofit sector, focusing on the areas of community mental health, juvenile justice, community services, and family work.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Heather about her career, her role at Starfish, and what inspires her to develop new skills and take on new responsibilities.

Tell us more about Starfish Family Services

Founded in 1963, Starfish Family Services is a private, nonprofit agency serving vulnerable children and families in metropolitan Detroit. Starfish is a leading provider of early childhood development and parenting programs, children’s mental health services, after-school programs, and an emergency shelter for teens and youth in crisis. We have more than a dozen programs at service sites throughout metropolitan Detroit, 400 employees, and a $20 million dollar budget that serves more than 10,000 at-risk children and families each year.

Starfish believes in investing early in the lives of families to keep them intact. We strive to prevent problems before they escalate and help strengthen relationships to build solid families that work. We believe in the potential of all children and the power of healthy parent-child relationships to break the cycles of poverty and create long-term positive outcomes for children.

How has your role there changed?

I’ve worked in nonprofit social work for 20+ years, all in the Detroit area. For the past 3 years at Starfish, I have run our Center for Family Success, which is a program we created to help parents and caregivers establish meaningful goals for themselves.  My day-to-day responsibilities have revolved around supervising staff, managing budgets, networking with other professionals, and building relationships with the families we serve, our staff, community members, and volunteers.  Recently, I’ve been focusing less on these traditional programmatic responsibilities and have been working on a new framework to expand our engagement with parents across the agency.

How have you managed that transition?

I’ve really needed to take a longer-term focus to my work.  It’s very different from my programming, which tends to revolve more around day-to-day management of people, budgets, and tasks.  In my new role, we’re really trying to create this new model and framework for the agency.  It’s very intense and I felt like getting some additional training on project management might help me to think about where to start, how to break all the requirements up into discrete tasks, and determine  if I’m on track with my current approach. I learned about NonprofitReady.org through our monthly newsletter, signed up, and browsed the catalog for project management courses. In the past, I have taken training on creating budgets, grant writing, and operations. This was the first time I took any type of project management course.

What are your impressions of NonprofitReady.org so far?

I’ve taken 6-7 hours worth of training and found it to be really helpful. I’m the kind of person that is always trying to find free or low-cost training. Every year I need to get a certain number of Continuing Education Units to keep my license current. But I also seek out professional development courses -- either because I’m interested in the topic or because it will help me in my job.  In the past, some of the in-person training courses I have attended were okay but not worth the money. I really like how with NonprofitReady.org I can take training when it’s most convenient that all the courses are free.

NonprofitReady.org seems like a really good resource for new managers.  Unfortunately, very few nonprofits are able to offer courses  to new supervisors.  People may get promoted because they are good at their job, but may not have any experience actually managing people.  The courses on having difficult conversations and becoming a first-time manager would be really valuable to anyone making that transition.

What keeps you motivated to seek out these new challenges?

I have always liked working with families, especially the parents. Anyone who has been a parent knows that we all need support sometimes, so I know how critical it is that these types of programs exist. To be honest, I never imagined myself having a corporate job. Working in the nonprofit sector is not without its challenges, but the personal rewards have always made it worthwhile.

Thank you for sharing your story Heather! Learn how Starfish Family Services is strengthening families to create brighter futures for children in the Detroit Area  by following them on Facebook and Twitter.

Know someone else that should be featured in our #IamNonprofitReady series? Leave a comment or send an email!

About Alec Green

As Chief Marketing Evangelist, Alec Green is responsible for developing the overall marketing plan and strategy for the Foundation, executing all outbound communications, increasing visibility of the Foundation’s programs, and building engagement with our partners... more

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Social Media Best Practices

October 27, 2014Rebecca Zacanti

An estimated 1.73 billion people used social media in 2013[1] and that number continues to rise. To ensure that your nonprofit organization is optimizing its social media presence to engage its users, here are five quick tips:

1. Find your tone.

Define and set a tone for your social media account. In order to do this, know your organization inside and out. Imagine you’re the same character every time you communicate via social media.

2. Be interactive.

Make it your goal to have your followers interact with every post. The point of using social media is to be social! The biggest mistake people make is continuing to use social media as if it’s just another way to spew information out. Remember those rolled up, black and white pieces of paper that used to appear on your doorstep in the morning? People don’t get those anymore (unless they have a pet rabbit) because it’s a boring, slow way to receive news. If you’re posting questions, challenges, or ways to get involved then your followers are much more likely to comment and get a conversation going. If there’s ever a time you can include a picture or video, do it.

3. Quality over Quantity.

People tend to put a lot of pressure on the quantity of followers they have when they should really be concerned about the quality. A quality follower is someone who interacts with and shares your posts. These are the people who tell their friends, both on and offline, about your organization and its message. When they do that, they’re doing your job for you!

4. Don’t go overboard.

Don’t post every second of every day. Do your research. There are tools that you can use to see when the majority of your followers are online, so schedule your daily posts according to that data. It’s much more effective to have a few posts per day that people actually see rather than cluttering their feed all day long.

Also… #This #Is #Too #Many #Hashtags #For #One #Post #YoureGoingOverboard

5. Have fun!

People go on their social media accounts for a distraction, so add some humor when appropriate to your posts.

What has helped your nonprofit optimize its social media channels? Share your tips below or tweet @csodfoundation with your suggestions. 

About Rebecca Zacanti

Rebecca Zacanti is a Silicon Valley native living in Santa Monica, California.  She loves Mexican food, long walks on the beach, and playing any kind of competitive game. Rebecca is an intern for the Knowledge Management team at Cornerstone OnDemand and has... more

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Cloud Computing For Nonprofits

October 23, 2014Alec Green

Cloud computing and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) are not new concepts in the nonprofit sector. But it was only 2 years ago that 51% of Americans believed stormy weather would interfere with their cloud computing. For nonprofits of all sizes, adoption of cloud computing software is on the rise.  But many organizations are still confused about how to best utilize cloud and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications.

In a recent survey of 10,500 nonprofits from 88 countries, TechSoup Global found that 90% of respondents have implemented some form of cloud technology with the most popular services being e-mail, web-conferencing, and file storage. But 60 percent cited “lack of knowledge” as a barrier to their further adoption of cloud technology. The second most-cited barrier to adoption was cost, acknowledged by roughly half of the respondents.

Many nonprofit executives have moved beyond the question of “what is cloud computing?” to more systematic analyses of the pros and cons of cloud computing for their organization.

Where does your nonprofit rank in terms of cloud adoption? If you have been wondering what types of technology might be best to move to the cloud and what benefits other nonprofits have derived from cloud computing, sign up for the next free webinar in our HR Pro Bono Corps Webinar series.

Neil Jensen and Scott Schmidt from Appirio will lead an interactive webinar on Nonprofit Operations from Now to Next: Using the Cloud to Improve Operations and Support your Mission on Tuesday, October 28 at 10 AM PT/1 PM ET.

Neil and Scott will dispel many of the common myths around cloud computing and provide some specific tips to determine which cloud applications are right for you and your team.  Seats are limited, so register today for this webinar!

About Alec Green

As Chief Marketing Evangelist, Alec Green is responsible for developing the overall marketing plan and strategy for the Foundation, executing all outbound communications, increasing visibility of the Foundation’s programs, and building engagement with our partners... more

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Embrace Your Inner Superhero

October 22, 2014Justin Wedell

Can your professional skills save the world?

This is the burning question that I ask of my sessions at company orientations, usually accompanied by a slide adorned with a Superman silhouette. Typically, it’s met with smirks and laughs, and for good reason. When one usually thinks of saving the world, skillsets as vanilla as HR or accounting don’t tend to rank too highly on the list of superpowers. Instead, superhuman strength, laser vision, and the power of flight often rule the day. How can financial wizardry, talent management expertise, or marketing best practices ever hope to hold a candle to these?

As with most things, the answer is a matter of perception. Sure, we could all wait for our superheroes to come flying to the rescue - those who we feel are specifically built for such world-saving endeavors. In the real world, this often involves the expectation that the “big guys” - governments, large organizations, major foundations, famous philanthropists - will step in to save the day. They have all the resources, influence, and power, right? Who are you, but a small pawn in the greater landscape of the haves and have-nots?

It is this attitude that we at the Cornerstone OnDemand Foundation want to change.

Who are you?

You’re a hard-working, career-driven professional whose education and experience have led you to a successful role in your organization. You are talented team member with boundless knowledge about your profession and role. You are a consummate pro with a deep expertise that has bolstered your company and made you the highlight of more than your fair share of networking events. You are a superhero... capes just aren’t your thing.

There is so much that you can do to save the world and it starts with the knowledge of just how valuable your professional skills can be. This is especially true when considering the nonprofit sector, where organizations are frequently subject to a drought of resources as they try to continue to drive meaningful impact for their communities and causes. Pro bono volunteering can help to alleviate these pain points. When you connect with a nonprofit to share your expertise - be it in HR, accounting, or any number of other focus areas - you help an organization to achieve more substantial and sustainable mission success. From your assistance, nonprofits gain the critical insight and support to drive the kind of programs that can change the world. That change might not arrive faster than a speeding bullet, but with your help, it can come to life in a way in which existing resources would’ve never allowed.

Ready to embrace your inner superhero? Volunteer your skills today and help solve a nonprofit's talent management challenge with our HR Pro Bono Corps.

HR Pro Bono Corps Superhero
About Justin Wedell

As Manager of the Nonprofit Empowerment Program, Justin Wedell is responsible for maintaining and supporting the Foundation's global portfolio of capacity building services, including the HR Pro Bono Corps and Gift of Learning.

Previously, Justin was a... more

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#IAmNonprofitReady featuring Karen Krejcha of Autism Empowerment

October 20, 2014Alec Green

For the first in our #IAmNonprofitReady story series, I had the pleasure of speaking with Karen Krejcha from Autism Empowerment.

We discussed the many challenges she has faced in building her nonprofit from the ground up, how she has used online training to engage her Board of Directors, and what advice she has for anyone starting a nonprofit in their community.  

Tell us about Autism Empowerment

Autism Empowerment is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to enriching and empowering the lives of children, teens, adults and families in the Autism and Asperger communities locally, regionally and worldwide.

We serve all ages, abilities and ethnicities. All our programs and services promote Four Foundational Pillars of Positivity: Accept, Enrich, Inspire and Empower.

The vision we work toward is an inclusive society that accepts and respects all youth and adults on the autism spectrum and empowers all people to reach their highest potential.

Key Programs (more details are available on our website):

  • Autism and Scouting  sensory Friendly Scouting for Youth of All Abilities, Cross-Scouting Community Training Summit, Autism & Scouting Youth Leadership Training
     
  • Autism Empowerment Radio Podcasts  over 135 free shows available on-demand
     
  • Autism Serves  inclusion-based volunteerism for individuals, families, nonprofits and business entities
     
  • Community Outreach  resource Referral, In-Person and Online Support Training, Men’s Autism Support Group, Self-Advocates Autism Support Group, Social Media, Autism Empowerment YouTube channel, Blogging, Exhibiting, Parent Education Workshop Series, Special Events

    Annual Easter Egg Hunt for Acceptance of All Abilities
  • Signature Event – 3rd Annual Easter Egg Hunt for Acceptance of All Abilities & Cross-Disability Resource Fair served 1,400+ attendees and 40 agencies in 2014 (served 450 in 2012 and 1,100+ in 2013)

What is your background and what inspired you to build this organization?

My husband, John, and I co-founded Autism Empowerment in Vancouver, WA in June 2011. Although we both had extensive experience owning our own business as well as working within the corporate world, we were new to the nonprofit sector.

Karne's children -- Justin and RyanBoth of our sons (now 8 and 15) were diagnosed on the autism spectrum in 2008. I was diagnosed a short time later. My youngest son, who was nonverbal at the time needed considerable support, but we only received a simple brochure and were invited to come back a few weeks later if we had any questions.

Soon after, I immersed myself into online autism culture and attended meetings around the state and country.  I quickly tired of the doom and gloom and negative messaging that was being promoted by many autism-related organizations in order to secure funding. Messaging which stigmatizes youth and adults on the autism spectrum hurts self-esteem and sends the incorrect message that individuals with autism are to be excluded and not included. I was also disappointed to learn that very few individuals on the autism spectrum were being actively included in significant leadership roles or in advisory capacities in the organizations which were raising the most funds. I didn’t want my sons to grow up in a world where they weren’t accepted or respected and I didn’t want anyone else’s children to feel the same way.  

What distinguishes Autism Empowerment as unique from most local and national autism-related organizations is that everyone on the Board of Directors is either on the autism spectrum or closely related to someone who is.  Autism Empowerment volunteers and staff are authentic and proactive autism allies with a vision of a better world. 

We firmly believe if you want to meaningfully enrich and provide support to youth and adults on the autism spectrum, it is essential that individuals with autism be given a voice in the conversation throughout all facets of program, support and service development. Autism Empowerment proactively includes youth and adults on the autism spectrum in program development and volunteer roles. 

What are some of the challenges you have faced in getting Autism Empowerment off the ground?

Like many nonprofits, funding is an ongoing challenge. Our biggest obstacle by far has been raising funds to build capacity and fund programs so we can transition from a volunteer-based grassroots start-up to a thriving, mature and sustainable organization.

Being a strong steward of the funds that have been entrusted to Autism Empowerment is of critical importance to us. Finding the balance of having funds to be able to meaningfully and directly serve our stakeholders as well as to build organizational capacity has also been a challenge but we know it’s paramount for both the short and long-term success of our organization.

Karen and Board Member Gary BorghelloWe look for opportunities to reduce costs without sacrificing quality and this is one of the reasons we were ecstatic when Gary Borghello, Engagement Manager at Cornerstone OnDemand and Autism Empowerment Board Member, told us about the free education and social networking opportunities available at NonprofitReady.org.

How have you used NonprofitReady.org in support of your mission?

We know how important it is for our Board of Directors and volunteers to have access to quality nonprofit education. Unfortunately this education can often be cost-prohibitive to organizations with smaller budgets. NonprofitReady.org allows us to train our volunteers, staff and Board Members for FREE and the quality of the courses is exceptional.

Being fiscally responsible is very important to us and now money that we would have allocated toward training can go back into the budget to fund projects in service to those in the autism community.

Autism Empowerment has Board Members in Washington, Oregon, Alaska and California. We like the fact that with NonprofitReady.org we can learn at our own pace and that each of our Board Members can take the same course at different times and the information will be exactly the same.

Although there is value to in-person trainings, it’s often hard to retain all the information learned. With NonprofitReady.org we can go back to the same course again and again. Courses are in different formats to accommodate different learning styles and our transcript is always available to us so that we know what courses we have taken.

Because courses are free and you can stop and start them at any time, we are able to sample a wide range of topics and then hone in on what will be most useful to us in supporting our mission.

We are also grateful for the social networking component and look forward to the opportunity to connect with like-minded nonprofits around the world so that we can share challenges and ideas and have a greater social impact.

What are your plans for Autism Empowerment going forward?

We recently reworked our Strategic Plan for the next three years. As excited as we are about launching new programs and expanding others, we need to make sure that the programs and services we currently offer are strong and sustainable for the short and long-term.

We are learning as much on NonProfitReady.org as we can about development, operations and professional effectiveness.

We are also applying for grants, diversifying our revenue streams and seeking out new funding and social venture partners that are interested in supporting positive programs that empower youth, adults and families in the autism and Asperger communities.

Our strategy includes piloting programs locally and then having them replicated regionally and nationally. We have an Autism Empowerment Radio podcast and just launched an Autism Empowerment YouTube channel. We have educational and inspirational podcasts and webinars that are available on demand to anyone with computer or mobile device access.

We also have an Autism and Scouting Leadership Training Program that was piloted in Southwest Washington and is now being utilized in all 50 states.

Our plans for 2015 include hiring me full-time as Autism Empowerment’s Executive Director and my husband John as our Programs Director. We have been filling these roles voluntarily since co-founding Autism Empowerment. Our next hiring plans are a Development Director and Volunteer Coordinator.

What advice would you have for someone who is considering launching their own nonprofit organization?

When we set out to launch Autism Empowerment, it was a calling. We knew we had passion, perseverance and professionalism but we also knew that there was going to be a learning curve in becoming familiar with the rules, regulations, compliance issues, lingo and culture that accompany the nonprofit world.

Here is some advice based on our own personal experience:

  1. Ask yourself if there is an unfulfilled need and demand in your community for the work you want to do. If similar programs are already being successfully offered by another local nonprofit, you may wish to team up with them rather than reinvent the wheel.
  2. Pick up a copy of the NOLO book, “Starting & Building a Nonprofit, A Practical Guide.” This book helps walk you through the basics and provides step-by-step instructions for getting your nonprofit up and running in an efficient way.
  3. If you are looking to become a 501(c)3 tax exempt corporation, pick up a copy of the NOLO book, “How to Form a Nonprofit Corporation.” It provides step-by-step instructions, clear explanations of the law and sample forms that you will need to prepare your articles of incorporation and organizational bylaws.
  4. Build an effective Board. Your founding Board Members are often people you trust and know who are passionate about your mission, however you will eventually need to reach outside your inner circle to make sure you have a healthy mix of different skill sets, including entrepreneurial, financial, legal, marketing, technical and service-oriented board members.
  5. Invite your Board of Directors, staff and key volunteers to join NonprofitReady.org. Classes are FREE, accessible and you can go at your own pace. You can also use social learning tools to network with other nonprofit professionals.
  6. Community networking is important too. Join the local nonprofit network or nonprofit society closest to your area and begin to build relationships by attending local events.
  7. Try to become involved in community or online coalitions of other nonprofits serving a similar client base. (In our case, we are part of the Clark County Disability Coalition, SW WA Special Education Alliance, Northwest Health Foundation Learning Together, Connecting Communities cohort, Community Autism Network and Safe Kids Clark County.) These groups are great for sharing information about your organization and also partnering together on work that mutually benefits your target audience.
  8. Share your organization’s story with the community. Have a website and social media presences. Engage in social media and digital storytelling.

Thank You Karen!  Follow the Autism Empowerment story on social media at Facebook: www.facebook.com/autismempowerment and Twitter: @AutismEmpowermt

About Alec Green

As Chief Marketing Evangelist, Alec Green is responsible for developing the overall marketing plan and strategy for the Foundation, executing all outbound communications, increasing visibility of the Foundation’s programs, and building engagement with our partners... more

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3 Surefire Ways to Create Professional Level E-Learnings

October 06, 2014Emily Popper

E-learnings are an inexpensive and convenient way to onboard and train employees, but not all e-learnings are created equal.  If you’ve ever taken an e-learning, it’s easy to tell the good from the bad, but it can be hard to understand what’s working and what’s not.  Folks who are new to e-learning creation will focus on the visuals, but instructional designers who specialize in e-learning content development know that the big differentiators have little to do with what you see.   

Using the tips below you’ll be able to lay a strong foundation and create e-learnings that are a cut above the rest.

  1. Write a script (and make sure it’s meant to be spoken aloud)

    • Why?  This is the number one thing you can do to raise the quality of your e-learning content.  E-learnings that don’t use a script are often confusing and terribly dull.  A good script uses real-world scenarios and simple language to tell a story in an organized way.  This creates the context your learners need to fully engage in the topic at hand.  
       
    • How?  Structure your script around example scenarios and use-cases.  Keep the words you choose simple and friendly.  Try to avoid unnecessary repetition, and don’t forget to read your script aloud to make sure it sounds natural.
       
  2. Rehearse and perform your script

    • Why?  Just like there’s “no crying in baseball,” there’s no “monotone” in a good e-learning.  You need to be able to use your voice to create a quick intimacy with your audience that encourages their trust, and keeps their attention.   If you’re feeling shy and silly while recording your script – get over it!  
       
    • How?  A great way to improve the way you handle this aspect of e-learning development is to listen to radio commercials.    Professional voice-over artists working with a good script know exactly how to make that fresh, creamy yogurt sound delicious.  You may not end up as a professional voice-over artist, but you’ll be amazed at how quickly you can improve your delivery by listening to the pros.
       
  3. Record good quality sound

    • Why?  A loud buzz, hum, static whine, or other sounds are surprisingly distracting for your learners and a great reason for them to stop listening.  Make it easy for your audience to hear what you have to say – that means no sneezes, no strange swallows and no background air conditioner noise.  
       
    • How?  Use a free tool, like Audacity to clean up your sound before you  produce your e-learning.  It’ll make all the difference. 

Do you have additional e-learning tips to share? Leave a comment and let us know.

About Emily Popper

Emily Popper has 19 years of experience working in Training and Development as an Instructional Designer and Knowledge Manager with a specialty in e-learning design and development. She is also an award winning Technical Writer and a Certified Scrum Master working... more

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D.I.Y. Professional Development

September 23, 2014Justin Wedell

September is National Self-Improvement Month... as if you needed another reminder to seek personal improvement. Scan the aisles of your local bookstore (if you have one), look at the top-sellers on Amazon, or pay a visit to any blog, and you’ll be greeted by a barrage of self-help manifestos. Become a better person! Boost your career! Increase your impact! This idea of continuous improvement surrounds us on all sides, yet how often do we, as nonprofit professionals, actually embrace the credo in our organizations?

For many of us, the answer is an awkward pause and an acknowledgement of probably not enough. Each of us individually has a number of reasons for this, but there are also frequently larger, sector-wide issues at play. It is no secret that many nonprofits, already operating with threadbare resources available for operations and professional development, are often unable to provide such improvement opportunities for their employees. The result leaves many of us scrambling to find development opportunities on our own or - even worse - with no opportunity at all.

If we hope to continue to drive increasingly greater impact as a sector, this becomes highly problematic. Without investment in the skillsets and careers of nonprofit professionals, the programs they administer start to stand on more precarious footing. Our collective success and sustainability as a sector depends on our ability to cultivate our individual - and consequently organizational - capacity to continually raise the bar on impact for our respective missions.

This is the very reason why we created NonprofitReady.org. A no-cost open online learning portal exclusively for nonprofits, it provides both individuals and organizations with a platform to access the training and development that has been so often unavailable. Whether you want to improve your public speaking, your management style, your fundraising strategies, your social media savvy, or any other number of essential skills, there are resources available on NonprofitReady.org for you to begin that journey. Such opportunities have long been at a premium in the nonprofit sector - a problem that we hope to erase.

Cliche as it may be, I suppose it’s fitting that we’re launching this portal during National Self-Improvement Month. Whether you’re a nonprofit that wants to be able to provide additional training for your team or an individual who simply wants to grow, NonprofitReady.org is available to meet your needs. Sign up today to take unlimited courses for free and discover what you can achieve.

 

 

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

About Justin Wedell

As Manager of the Nonprofit Empowerment Program, Justin Wedell is responsible for maintaining and supporting the Foundation's global portfolio of capacity building services, including the HR Pro Bono Corps and Gift of Learning.

Previously, Justin was a... more

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Introducing NonprofitReady.org

September 17, 2014Justin Wedell

Every day at the Cornerstone OnDemand Foundation, our focus is talent management. We think about it, we talk about it, we write about it, and - if we’re being completely honest - we probably dream about it too. Our goal is to be able to provide nonprofits across the world with the tools to ensure their employees are in the best possible position to achieve greater mission success. Sometimes this means providing organizations with software that can help manage the learning and performance of their staff. Other times, it’s the facilitation of pro bono consulting services, so that nonprofits can draw from the talent management expertise of leading HR professionals. Our core strategy however, is always the same: invest in the people behind nonprofits so that they can drive more significant programmatic impact.

One would think such a strategy would be fairly commonplace. But as many in the nonprofit sector can likely attest, resources for operations are frequently slim. For a wide variety of reasons, there is an unfortunate lack of funding earmarked for employee development and performance in our sector, the repercussions of which can be severe. If employees are not invested in and provided with opportunities to grow themselves as professionals, their nonprofit careers can quickly become a story of tragic resource deficiency and stunted potential. This leaves many of our most passionate mission-driven professionals ill-equipped to carry out and expand upon their duties. Just as importantly, it handicaps all those nonprofits seeking to maximize their organizational impact, by failing to ensure that they are supplied with a pipeline of evermore capable talent.

It’s this scarcity of widely-available professional development that led us to create NonprofitReady.org. A no-cost online portal, NonprofitReady.org is designed to combat the problem of limited training budgets by providing nonprofits with an easily-accessible library of diverse training resources. If a nonprofit wants to provide its employees with the latest training on leadership development, volunteer management, fundraising strategies, or any number of other essential skills, this tool makes that immediately possible. More importantly, these learning opportunities are not static. In addition to self-paced courses, NonprofitReady.org offers interactive online communities, allowing learners to connect with both subject matter experts and fellow nonprofit professionals to share best practices and experiences from the workplace.

We believe that every nonprofit professional deserves access to the training and peer support necessary to deliver even greater programmatic results. When employees are empowered to expand their capacity, they, their organizations, and in turn, the sector as a whole, all stand to benefit. NonprofitReady.org is now open to all nonprofits and nonprofit professionals, entirely free. Get empowered at www.NonprofitReady.org.

About Justin Wedell

As Manager of the Nonprofit Empowerment Program, Justin Wedell is responsible for maintaining and supporting the Foundation's global portfolio of capacity building services, including the HR Pro Bono Corps and Gift of Learning.

Previously, Justin was a... more

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Partnering with Darkness to Light to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse

September 11, 2014Alec Green

I have always believed that storytelling is the most impactful means of communication. It is how we learn. It is how we affect change. It is how we develop emotional connections. We are proud to debut a short documentary on Darkness to Light (D2L), a national nonprofit that seeks to empower adults to prevent child sexual abuse. Please take 3 minutes to learn more about the incredible work being done by this team and how they are scaling this important program.

Over the past few months, I have had the opportunity to get to know the wonderful people at Darkness to Light (D2L) and hear their story.  In 2013, they were awarded an Impact Grant from the Cornerstone OnDemand Foundation to scale the impact of their online education program.

From the first time I heard Cindy McElhinney, D2L's Director of Programs, speak to our team, I knew we needed to share their story with a broader audience for two very different reasons:

  1. Their mission has universal importance.  Child sexual abuse is one of the most prevalent health problems children face, with a serious array of consequences.  1 in 10 children will be sexually abused by the age of 18.  90% of the time it’s by someone the child knows and trusts.  This is an uncomfortable issue for many of us to think about, discuss, or act on.  Whether or not we have children or work with them directly, there are practical steps we can all take to prevent, recognize, and react to child sexual abuse in our community.   
     
  2. Their programmatic challenge is shared by many nonprofit organizations.    D2L is a small nonprofit – 12 employees in Charleston, SC – but their goal is to deliver their education program to millions of adults around the world.  Cindy and her team have seen firsthand the impact their Stewards of Children training has had on the lives of adults and children.  Their challenge comes in raising awareness both of the issue and of their solution.  And then having the technology and support in place to deliver their program at scale.

Share this documentary with someone who would benefit from hearing their story.  And help bring the issue of child sexual abuse to light.

About Alec Green

As Chief Marketing Evangelist, Alec Green is responsible for developing the overall marketing plan and strategy for the Foundation, executing all outbound communications, increasing visibility of the Foundation’s programs, and building engagement with our partners... more

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Be a Coach - Not just a Manager

August 01, 2014Jocelyne Durando

Effective Feedback Meetings

I recently facilitated a session on Effective Coaching & Performance Feedback for a few local nonprofits at Taproot Foundation’s office in New York City. The primary purpose of the session focused on the best way for managers to have constructive conversations with their employees. Coaching is about providing ongoing feedback to individuals for the purpose of improving their performance. Coaches encourage employees to find their own solutions, help to reframe challenges into learning experiences, and model favorable skills and behaviors for the employee to emulate.

For my fellow athletes, you've had many experiences with coaches. The coaches in your lifetime took the time to make you better at your sport by providing you with guidance and opportunities to enhance your skills. They helped you to be more competitive, to be better than you were the day before, even if their feedback was hard to swallow. Now I want you to think about your manager. Do you ever wonder if you would perform your job better if your coach was also your manager? I would say so.

Coaching IsDuring the session, we discussed the importance of Managers playing the role of “coach”, and that being a Coach is a part of a Manager’s job. There is always time for you to delegate and direct to get work done, but your time spent on developing your talent will go much further. Your most important asset is your talent, and your investment of providing ongoing feedback (good or bad) will ensure they are more productive, engaged, dedicated, and aligned to the mission of your nonprofit. Without feedback, mistakes will go uncorrected and good performance will not be reinforced.

Here are my recommendations for Managers to be an Effective Coach:

  • Provide timely feedback. You don’t want to give them the opportunity to repeat the behavior.
     
  • Inform the employee that you want to meet with them. Feedback should never be given by surprise.
     
  • Prepare for the feedback meeting. Do they have a history of this behavior? Do you have a good or challenging relationship with them? What are some of the points that you want to make (it’s ok to script it out)?
     
  • Address only one major topic at a time. What behavior did you observe that you want to redirect?
     
  • To begin the feedback meeting, ask the employee to assess their performance regarding the particular behavior you observed (i.e. maybe they were giving a presentation). Then, provide your initial thoughts to the employee’s opening assessment, and then tell the employee what you observed. Next, you want to ask the employee what they could have done differently. Provide your suggestions for improvement and explain the impacts of making those improvements. Lastly, you want to work with the employee to create an Action Plan & Training Plan for development purposes.
     
  • After the meeting, hold yourself accountable to evaluating your employee’s progress against the Action Plan, continue to reinforce positive behavior, and redirect unfavorable activities or behaviors.

Share your tips for becoming a great Coach! What techniques have you used during your feedback meetings to ensure you are successful in redirecting poor behaviors? In what ways do you provide positive reinforcement for employee success and achievement?

Happy Coaching!

About Jocelyne Durando

As the Client Success Manager, Jocelyne Durando is responsible for supporting the Foundation’s Strategic Partners and Impact Grant Partners, by providing counsel and guidance aimed at ensuring a successful experience with Cornerstone’s Integrated Talent Management... more

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PS - I Love You

July 07, 2014Justin Wedell

Fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately, depending upon your taste in movies), this post is not a reflection on the questionable film of the same title. No, this post is all about Performance Support (PS) - a learning model that some have heard of, few have engaged, and many puzzle to understand. I personally find this state of affairs to be quite disheartening, considering how easy and essential PS can be. In this post, I’ll give you the performance support you need to take the next step toward using it for your own organization and - if we’re lucky - getting closer to the day when you will also finally feel compelled to confess, “PS I love you.”

What is PS?

As defined by Gloria Gery, Performance Support is

“an orchestrated set of services that provide on-demand access to integrated information, guidance, advice, assistance, training, and tools to enable high-level job performance with a minimum of support from other people.”

What does that mean?

Essentially, Performance Support is any learning tool that you make available to your employees or volunteers at the moment they need it most. The idea is that even with the best training you could possibly imagine, there is still a gap between what someone might learn in a session and when they’ll apply it in the real world (aka “the moment of apply”). If you want an employee to be able to truly take learning from the classroom into the workplace, you must make resources available that can help them to recall these lessons when the moment of apply finally arrives. These resources should be thus embedded in their natural workflow, so when they have a question, they can easily find the answer in 2-3 clicks.

2-3 clicks?

Yes - clicks of a mouse. Most organizations (and soon to be yours) store their PS materials in share drives or communal folders online (these are just two of many options). Employees should be able to access the resources they need in no more than 2-3 clicks. Typically, the starting point will be a general document related to an employee’s role that contains hyperlinks to these resources. An example is pictured below.

This already sounds too complex... documents and hyperlinks?

Fear not, this sounds scarier than it actually is. Let’s use the example of a Volunteer Manager. In this example, your organization has a great training for Volunteer Managers, after which employees who take it are supposed to be better equipped to do their job. To help reinforce this training, you’ve used Microsoft Word to make a list of all the key points from the training and each key point is hyperlinked to more specific information that you have stored in your shared drive. This way, when your employee needs to quickly revisit how to handle a particular situation, they can look in their Volunteer Management Word Document, click the relevant key point, and find a solution. This is PS!

I get it now, but won’t this take forever to build?

Not at all. Most of your PS materials can be made in tandem (or even before) your creation of any training. Think of each element within a PS resource as a key learning objective from the longer, instructor-led lesson you offer to your employees; it’s essentially an outline of the lesson plan. As long as you know your training’s key take-aways, you’ll be in prime position to set these up in the PS framework. And if you don’t know what these are, then we have other things to talk about.

That’s it?

That’s it.... more or less. You’ll definitely want to be extremely intentional in how you build out your PS process as not all roles or functions will require such resources. For those that do however, this can be a huge difference maker and it won’t be long before you hear those five little words: PS I love you.

______________________

Was this post helpful? Do you want to learn more?

Check out our recent webinar on how to get started in your Performance Support journey for a deeper look at what makes this method tick. If you’re already ready to go, but would love some additional guidance, our HR Pro Bono Corps of no-cost HR consultants stand ready to help

______________________

Image courtesy of jesadaphorn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

About Justin Wedell

As Manager of the Nonprofit Empowerment Program, Justin Wedell is responsible for maintaining and supporting the Foundation's global portfolio of capacity building services, including the HR Pro Bono Corps and Gift of Learning.

Previously, Justin was a... more

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It’s Not You, It’s Me – Nonprofit Capacity and the Pro Bono Bottleneck

June 17, 2014Justin Wedell

“Water, water, everywhere,
and all the boards did shrink;
water, water, everywhere,
nor any drop to drink.”

- Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Last week, I had the privilege of attending a conference on pro bono and this quote kept coming to mind, albeit under much different circumstances than those of the infamous tale. Our conference was not cursed by a fallen albatross and our sessions were not taking place at sea (as amazing as that would have been). No, we were simply debating pro bono and how to better connect volunteers to causes. A curious thing occurred however, as the conversation developed throughout the day. What had originally been a discussion of how to rally employees to volunteer their time eventually fell into redundancy. As it turned out, the far more concerning issue for many organizations was not convincing their employees to volunteer, but convincing nonprofits to work with them. The day’s most common refrain seemed to become, “Need, need, everywhere, nor any org to serve.”

It was an interesting conundrum and one that our own HR Pro Bono Corps has faced as well. There are so many volunteers today that wish to join the pro bono movement, but ultimately face a bottleneck when it comes to being able to serve a nonprofit. Many wonder at why this might be - why is there not an endless queue of nonprofits eager to take advantage of the pro bono services that studies have shown they so crucially need?

Though there are many factors at play here, one common issue that I’ve encountered more often than not is the simple problem of capacity. As nice and as wonderful as these pro bono services are, there is the painful reality that many nonprofit organizations simply do not have the capacity and bandwidth to take on such a project. With both resources and staff stretched thin, the idea of not only taking on a pro bono consultant, but managing that relationship, working with them to develop new process and resources, and ultimately rolling such changes out across the organization is daunting (to say the very least).

Is there something that both volunteers and nonprofits can do about this? I believe it begins with a recognition that positive change can take place across the full spectrum of project scale. Our HR Pro Bono Corps is not limited to just large projects. We also match nonprofits to HR professionals for brief coaching sessions, recognizing that not only can such small conversations be exceptionally valuable, but also can lead to more significant projects down the line. From the nonprofit perspective, building a foundational awareness of their needs by connecting for smaller conversations or specific webinars can be invaluable stepping stones to future change, and doesn’t require the full-scale investment typical of larger pro bono projects.

Likewise, for volunteers, looking for more diverse formats in which to volunteer can help to mitigate long waits in the pro bono queue. Our HR Pro Bono Corps has expanded from large projects and short consulting sessions, to now offering volunteers the opportunity to host webinars, breakout-discussions, and week-long forums on essential facets of talent management. Understanding the burden (as counterintuitive as it may seem) that pro bono can put on nonprofits and adjusting opportunities accordingly has helped us to alleviate the aforementioned volunteer doldrums.

The poem that inspired this diatribe may conclude on a low note, but I don’t believe that our own story has to share a similar ending. Pro bono is a valuable and important tool that can provide critical support for an organization’s impact and sustainability. I encourage both nonprofits and volunteers to not turn a blind eye to this potential, and – perhaps most importantly – to recognize that transformative pro bono collaboration can come in all shapes and sizes.

Are you a nonprofit organization ready to discuss your pro bono needs?  Or are you an HR professional who wants to donate your expertise to support nonprofits?  We'd love to help connect you.

Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

About Justin Wedell

As Manager of the Nonprofit Empowerment Program, Justin Wedell is responsible for maintaining and supporting the Foundation's global portfolio of capacity building services, including the HR Pro Bono Corps and Gift of Learning.

Previously, Justin was a... more

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Your Training Program Needs a Performance Review

May 21, 2014Justin Wedell

For most nonprofit leaders, training is a means to an end, intended to serve as a vehicle for individual and organizational improvement. Verifying whether or not your prescribed training actually achieves this objective however, is an entirely different and more complex consideration. How can you accurately evaluate whether your chosen training activities are truly bringing value to your nonprofit? At the intersection of employee feedback, operational costs, performance improvement, and organizational improvement, choosing the proper direction can be difficult. What should be your method in this madness?

Enter the “Training Scorecard.” This simple tool allows nonprofit leaders to establish clear learning metrics by which to evaluate the effectiveness of their learning and development opportunities. We recently had Steve Semler, Senior Manager of Risk Operations Training at MoneyGram International, stop by to host a special presentation on how organizations can adopt such learning metrics and the Training Scorecard approach. Here are a few of his key takeaways:

  • Define your Learning Metrics. With the learning and development budget often tight, organizations need to be able to make informed decisions about what’s working. Without clear performance measures in place, you risk continuing practices that do little to improve your organization and can ultimately harm the mission you seek to achieve. Metrics shed light on the facts of your training initiatives and help to answer the question, “Are we really helping?”
  • Customize your Training Scorecard. When deciding what to put on your Training Scorecard, you have to ask yourself, “What will help me drive learning in my organization?” For many, this will be the first time that their organization seriously considers the concept of learning metrics. As such, it will be important to test and refine which metrics you use. Start with the four essential categories of learning metrics (Activity, Efficiency, Effectiveness, and Impact) to decide what your organization should prioritize. From there, focus on which specific performance indicators you’d like to measure within your selected categories. If you need a place to start, Steve outlines some great examples in his learning metrics presentation.
  • Manage to your Key Learning Metrics. Simply outlining the metrics by which you’ll judge your training is only the first step in your Training Scorecard journey. Just as important will be your follow-through in consistent data collection and evaluation. Build your strategy, work your strategy, and make it work for you and your organization (don’t be scared to revisit and revise!). Ultimately, your Training Scorecard should be a tool to empower more evidence-based and mission-driven training decisions. It will not work however, if it doesn’t have a consistent structure to stand on.

Feel inspired to build your own Training Scorecard? Start by viewing Steve’s presentation on Learning Metrics: Building Your Training Scorecard.

About Justin Wedell

As Manager of the Nonprofit Empowerment Program, Justin Wedell is responsible for maintaining and supporting the Foundation's global portfolio of capacity building services, including the HR Pro Bono Corps and Gift of Learning.

Previously, Justin was a... more

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Great Teachers Teach Great Expectations

May 06, 2014Justin Wedell

May 6 is National Teacher Day. Take a moment to #ThankaTeacher that has made a difference in your life or your community.

Mr. Bullard had a whistle and a yardstick and a voice so loud it could rattle your bones. A man of Andre the Giant-proportions, he was a former college football player who had found his way into teaching 8th grade science, and he loved every minute of it. His classroom wasn’t just class – it was sport – and each day’s topic had the importance of a 4th and long play on the final drive of the game.

I came into Mr. Bullard’s science class at the stereotypical adolescent crossroads. I was a relatively useless 13 year old boy: good grades, slightly overweight, mightily focused on videogames, and all-too-content to let my personal, depressingly vanilla status-quo continue. Mr. Bullard, however, would have none of it.

That’s because in addition to a whistle and a yardstick and voice so loud it could set off a car alarm, Mr. Bullard had high expectations. He expected every student who crossed his path to do great things and more importantly, that we expect it too. Mr. Bullard pushed us all to embrace our potential and expand beyond our complacency. Through his madcap, motivational ferocity, we came to believe that we could and should do more. And for so many of us that shared his class, we did.  To this day, I refuse to stop cultivating my skills and expanding my opportunities – honoring a self-worth that it took just one teacher to make abundantly clear.

When I consider the myriad issues at stake in education today, I find myself returning time and time again to this notion of great expectations. Truly excellent teachers excel in this area. Yes, instructional ability is essential, but it is only one component to the broader role that teachers serve in shaping our lives and establishing the path for our future success. Those teachers who set great expectations for their students – regardless of background, class, or life situation – provide a sincere belief in opportunity, which is an unfortunately precious commodity for far too many of our youth. This sense of opportunity is something that every student in this country inarguably deserves: opportunity for improvement, opportunity for achievement, opportunity for a future beyond whatever reality they may currently inhabit. The teachers we remember most are those who understood this.

This week, reflect on the teachers who had expectations for you beyond those that you had for yourself. Think about how they influenced where you are today. At the same time, give pause to reflect on all those students for whom such expectations do not currently exist. That number is unconscionably vast.

Mr. Bullard had a whistle and a yardstick and a voice so loud it could scare the birds from the trees… but it could also inspire and motivate and make you believe that you were worth more than any previous personal or social estimation. To all the Mr. Bullards of the world, I have only gratitude. I hope that you continue to grow in number so that all students may one day have the opportunity to realize that they can and will break the mold. Thank you for expecting nothing less.  

 

 

Image courtesy of Supertrooper / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

About Justin Wedell

As Manager of the Nonprofit Empowerment Program, Justin Wedell is responsible for maintaining and supporting the Foundation's global portfolio of capacity building services, including the HR Pro Bono Corps and Gift of Learning.

Previously, Justin was a... more

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Will your next CEO be ready in 2 years?

April 24, 2014Jocelyne Durando

Succession Management establishes a foundation to ensure your organization has the right talent, in the right position, at the right time. Effective Succession processes allow any organization to respond quickly to change, and to overcome the loss of key talent and leadership.

Having an established talent pipeline is an ongoing challenge in any organization, but particularly in the nonprofit sector where boards too often wait until the current executive is on his or her way out the door before considering who would be a suitable replacement.  So if you are ready, here are the 4 steps towards successful Succession Management:

  1. Use Quantitative Tools and Measures to Identify Successors

Some tools and measurements to help you identify successors are organizational charts, competency assessments, a nine or four box grid, and succession metrics. Two years isn’t that far away, so I would recommend leveraging the four box grid below.

Some examples of Succession Metrics (provided by Bersin & Associates) that organizations commonly track on a regular basis are:

  • number of high potentials
  • number of successors for critical roles or key positions
  • readiness of successors
  • success of successor placement
  • number of talent transfer (talent mobility)
  • percentage of key position vacant
  • retention of high performers and high potentials
  • strength of overall talent pools (bench strength)
  • employee engagement
  1. Assess Talent Readiness

Nonprofits need to know if employees are ready to move to the next role. Sometimes, the best way to find out is from the employee themselves, or from their peers. Some examples of Talent Readiness Tools to leverage are self-reviews and 360 degree competency assessments.

  1. Close Development Gaps

Bersin & Associates facilitated a study on High-Impact Succession Management. The analysis states, “Without a process of development, succession plans are only a list of names and have no real value”. So you may be asking yourself, how does this work in an organization where there is no time for development? Well, consider the alternative if you don’t invest the time. Make sure you are designing strategies to develop talent for two primary reasons:

  • To move identified successors from their current state of development to their future state of development
  • To determine the best way to close the gap between the two.

Two of the most effective techniques I have seen to help close the development gap are mentorship programs and job shadowing.

  1. Provide Opportunities for Employees to Pursue Career Interests

You want to make sure you are proactively supporting the movement of your talent, or they will eventually leave and find purpose somewhere else. To prevent an exodus of your most valuable team members:

  • employees need to be accountable for knowing what they like to do and what makes them happy
  • managers need to be accountable to for helping employees pursue their career interests
  • and opportunities for the internal mobility of employees needs to be plentiful.   

If you are considering your next steps and would like to have an HR professional help develop your Succession Management process, the Cornerstone OnDemand Foundation’s HR Pro Bono Corps  can do just that. The Corps brings much-needed Talent Management consulting to nonprofits at no cost. Through this program, the Foundation matches HR professionals looking to share their time and skills with nonprofits in need of coaching or project-based consulting.

Leave a comment and let us know what succession management practices you have used in your organization.

 
Image courtesy of hin255 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net 
About Jocelyne Durando

As the Client Success Manager, Jocelyne Durando is responsible for supporting the Foundation’s Strategic Partners and Impact Grant Partners, by providing counsel and guidance aimed at ensuring a successful experience with Cornerstone’s Integrated Talent Management... more

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Our Top 3 Nonprofit Management Books

April 24, 2014jlam

Did you know that April 23 was World Book Night? An annual event, volunteers pick up selected titles (each year a new list of 30-35 books are selected and the costs are paid for by publishers and printers) and distribute these books to people with limited access to literature or non-readers.

To show our support for #WBN2014 and our love of the written word, here are three of our favorite nonprofit management books that we would recommend to those active in the nonprofit sector or those interested in being a social changemaker:

Forces For Good

 

  1. Forces of Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits by Leslie Crutchfield and Heather McLeod Grant—the authors studied 12 large and global nonprofits such as Habitat for Humanity, Teach for America, and the Environmental Defense Fund and uncovered 6 key practices that high-impact nonprofits  employ to achieve extraordinary impact. In 2012, the book was updated to include how the six practices could be applied to local and smaller nonprofits.

 

Nonprofit Management 101

 

  1. Nonprofit Management 101: A Complete and Practical Guide for Leaders and Professionals edited by Darian Rodriguez Heyman—a comprehensive, concise handbook that addresses key topics in the nonprofit field including fundraising, nonprofit finance, advocacy, strategic planning, social marketing, board governance, and nonprofit law. Each chapter is authored by leading subject matter experts and contains practical and easy-to-follow tips.

 

Good to Great

 

  1. Good to Great by Jim Collins—Based on the premise that “good is the enemy of great”, Jim Collins sets out to identify the critical differences between companies that he’s identified as good and those that have made the leap to greatness.  Collins penned a companion piece to this seminal work focused on the nonprofit sector: Good to Great and the Social Sectors: A Monograph to Accompany Good to Great

 

What are some of your favorite must-read nonprofit leadership/management books?  Share your comments below or tweet us your suggestions @csodfoundation.  

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Impact Grant Profile: Cindy McElhinney from Darkness to Light

April 17, 2014Alec Green

April is child abuse prevention month.  According to the U.S. Department of Justice, As many as 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 7 boys will be sexually abused at some point in their childhood. Darkness to Light is a national nonprofit organization that is raising awareness of this growing epidemic and using a mix of instructor-led and online training to empower adults to protect the children in their communities.

In 2006, Darkness to Light launched “Stewards of Children®” – an evidence-informed training program that teaches adults how to prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to child sexual abuse. The program is designed for parents, organizations that serve youth, and individuals concerned about the safety of children. Since its inception, the program has trained over 500,000 adults.

In 2013, Darkness to Light was awarded an Impact Grant from the Cornerstone OnDemand Foundation to extend the reach of their online training and meet their long-term goal of educating over five percent of the adult population.

We caught up with Cindy McElhinney, director of programs at Darkness to Light to learn more about their incredible work, the impact of their Cornerstone OnDemand Learning Platform, and their plans to extend the Stewards of Children program to communities around the world.

Why is this work so important?

Darkness to Light has been around for 12 years, but child sexual abuse is an issue whose time has come. The world is ready to recognize that child sexual abuse is not the problem of one socio-economic status, culture, race, religion, or gender. It impacts every community and every person across the globe, and we all have a role to play in preventing it. This is why Darkness to Light exists—to empower people to prevent childhood sexual abuse.

How is the Cornerstone OnDemand technology helping you to achieve your mission?  

Before receiving our Impact Grant from Cornerstone OnDemand Foundation, we were on a system that could not handle the kind of numbers we were hoping to reach with Stewards of Children. Our old model was based on facilitator-led, face-to-face trainings and while we knew we had a successful program, we also recognized that it would take armies of facilitators to train millions of people. The only way we could reach as many people as possible was to deliver the program via a scalable and reliable online learning platform, and our old system just was not going to cut it. 

To give you some context, in the first six months after going live with Cornerstone OnDemand’s learning platform, we trained 5,800 people. In the previous six months using our old platform, we trained only 1,800.  

More importantly, I now have the confidence to bring in some larger-sized partners. We have big school districts all around the country that want to train thousands of teachers to prevent child sexual abuse. One state’s attorney general’s office has over 9,000 employees they want to put through the training. Before working with Cornerstone, these types of requests would have scared me. Our organization is talking about training 400,000 teachers in another state and I have the confidence that we can then scale our program to reach millions more. Thanks to Cornerstone, we have the technology and support in place to get us there.

What challenges have you had in running this program?

My biggest challenge and the thing that keeps me up at night is figuring out how can I get this program in as many hands as possible.  Unfortunately, it’s not just a matter of “if you build it, they will come.” We know that this training is making a real difference, but almost all of our growth to date has been through word of mouth.  

Stewards of Children takes approximately two hours to complete, which admittedly can be a tough sell, too. But once individuals take the training, they realize it was two hours well spent. The training program features the stories of survivors which create an emotional connection with the learner and demonstrate the need and sense of urgency. Other elements of our training focus on empowerment. People have to be willing to make choices that protect children, take risks, and support each other to create safer communities for children. 

The Cornerstone OnDemand Foundation has provided resources that have already made a difference, from connecting us with the Pvblic Foundation for public relations and advertising to helping us secure a Google Ad Grant and launch our first AdWords campaign. Each of these steps are already making a difference. What’s great about our relationship with the Foundation is that the team is not just providing the technology, but also showing us what's possible and helping us realize what is required to reach more people.  

The program is available in all 50 states.  What plans do you have to expand the Stewards of Children program internationally?

We currently have facilitators in 16 countries in addition to the U.S. and the program is available in English, Spanish, and Icelandic (thanks to the support of private funders in Iceland). But we are approached often by international organizations that want to bring Stewards of Children to their local populations. When you open it up to the world, there are some real challenges. We're a small team –12 people in Charleston, South Carolina – trying to do as much as we can. We're incredibly lucky that our partners like Cornerstone and the YMCA are not only great ambassadors, but enable this small team to have an international presence. At the end of the day, this program is really universal when it comes to protecting children. It will happen… it's just a matter of when.

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For more information about Darkness to Light and how you or your organization can enroll in the Stewards of Children online training, visit www.D2L.org/Online.

About Alec Green

As Chief Marketing Evangelist, Alec Green is responsible for developing the overall marketing plan and strategy for the Foundation, executing all outbound communications, increasing visibility of the Foundation’s programs, and building engagement with our partners... more

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Performance Management for Nonprofits: Focus on Feedback

April 16, 2014Gayle Loving

Performance management gets a bad rap. This is primarily because most employees (and managers) don’t think about performance management until it comes time for their annual review.

All too often, the only tangible benefit of the annual review process is that that everyone stays on their best behavior right before the year end. This runs contrary to all that effective performance management is meant to achieve. What we want is continuous improvement and reflection throughout the year – not just in the days leading up to the annual review deadline.

So how do we keep employees engaged all year long? A favorite solution of mine has been the recent shift to a more feedback-based model of performance management in which expectations (competencies and goals) are clearly stated, agreed upon, and revisited throughout the year. By removing the pressure to produce a summative verdict of an employee’s performance at year’s end, these “performance conversations” enable managers and employees to engage in a more fluid dialogue on performance improvement. As a result, the manager’s role becomes less authoritarian and more like that of a coach. 

This feedback-based model also has the benefit of being able to decouple compensation and promotion discussions from the annual review. For nonprofits that frequently struggle with the reality that performance cannot always be tied to compensation, this model enables the final performance discussion to act not as the final arbiter of an employee’s worth, but instead as a time to reflect on development and create a plan for improvement. As such, it can become an essential tool in increasing employee investment in the nonprofit and further defining their role in its mission.

What steps can you take to develop a feedback-rich culture in your nonprofit?  First and foremost, embed coaching and feedback into your operations.  Every meeting (formal or informal) with an employee is a coaching moment and an opportunity to provide constructive feedback, ultimately leading to increased employee engagement. To make this happen, there are a few basic elements you should keep in mind:

  • Make the time to provide feedback and coach your employees.  Coaching conversations must be part of a conscious effort to make the change.
  • Encourage all employees to provide feedback to others. In other words, coaching should be happening all the time, at all levels.
  • Educate managers on the need for continuous and effective feedback. Make giving good feedback a core competency.
  • Align individual goals with mission and vision and review them often throughout the year, making adjustments if necessary. Just like any good coach, know when to adjust your game plan.
  • Be persistent. Just as performance discussions shouldn’t be once-per-year, neither should your encouragement of this transition to a feedback-based model. You must be willing to commit to making this a part of your culture if it is to succeed.

The key to great organizational performance is great individual performance. And the key to great individual performance is engagement.  Building your employees’ excitement about the mission of your organization and understanding of their role in supporting it is absolutely essential. And providing ongoing feedback is one of the best ways to gain this level of commitment and ultimately improve the performance of your entire team.

What techniques have you used to provide ongoing employee feedback?  Leave a comment and let us know.

About Gayle Loving

Gayle is an accomplished executive and consultant with over 25... more

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Pro Bono Spotlight: Jeff Caldwell and Dan Costello

April 11, 2014Alec Green

As National Volunteer Week rolls on, we are proud to recognize two of our most tenured HR Pro Bono Corps volunteers:  Jeff Caldwell and Dan Costello.

1. Tell us a little more about your background and how you got involved in the HR Pro Bono Corps.

Dan Costello is the owner of Sage Learning Solutions, LLC who has provided technical and strategic solutions to organizations (corporate and non-profit ) since 1996. He has 18 years of IT experience, has been a Manager/Director of several Learning Systems teams and has a Master’s degree in Education, Human Performance Improvement his specialty. He has been an independent contractor since 2006 and over the years has worked with many well-known companies including GlaxoSmithKline, MetLife, Realogy Tivo, Medtronic, Merck, Cablevision, Tata Chemicals North America, Goodwill of San Francisco and On Lok Lifeways.

Jeff Caldwell is the Manager of Learning Technology for MetLife Global Sales Capability Center, leading a team that provides learning technology consultation to MetLife business partners, as well as managing the day-to-day  administration of the Cornerstone OnDemand platform. With over 10 years of experience in the banking, insurance and real estate industries, Jeff has a passion for leveraging various learning technologies to support strategic organizational initiatives. He has a Master’s Degree in Instructional Technology and expertise in Learning/Talent Management Systems, eLearning authoring, learning portals, virtual classrooms, performance support and blended learning strategies.

How we got involved with the Pro Bono Corps:

Soon after completing their implementation in June 2009, MetLife made a commitment to Cornerstone OnDemand’s Pro Bono Corps, building upon a tradition of corporate contributions and volunteerism. By partnering with the Foundation, MetLife has been able to contribute financially, with company resources and through personal investments.

Jeff and Dan have worked on MetLife’s learning and talent management site (internally branded as “Max”) since 2009, as well. Their focus has been to provide services that meet their business partners’ needs in the most cost effective manner.  Jeff’s experience as manager of the Learning Technology team has meant he has been challenged with many learning and development scenarios. Similarly, Dan’s experience on a number of implementation projects and in support of his other Cornerstone OnDemand (CSOD) clients has enabled him to bring multiple perspectives to each Pro Bono clients’ efforts. Both Jeff and Dan have technical backgrounds; Jeff as a content developer and, Dan, as a systems engineer. Furthermore, they also have a business and education background (management experience, higher level education) to draw on to explore solutions based on research and industry best practices.

2. Since joining the HR Pro Bono Corps, what volunteer projects have you worked on?

We have been involved with several Pro Bono Corps clients since 2009.

Initially, Dan worked with Feeding America, which had a very organized and well supported training group. After a short period of time, the Feeding America team became self-sufficient so Dan maintained a quarterly check-in schedule until he was no longer needed.

Goodwill of San Francisco was the first client who we engaged on a regular basis. Mostly, the organization needed support to stabilize her environment, correct some configuration settings, enable some new functionality, and general administration support. Keeping in mind Goodwill of SF has a very small team dedicated to support of their system, Goodwill not only stabilized the system, but introduced some important enhancements that have greatly improved the usability of the system. Currently, the organization is planning its 2014 – 12015 training goals; focusing on continuing to improve the user experience, increasing adoption of the system and driving performance in key training areas. Our client, On Lok Lifeways, had initially presented both tactical and strategic goals which required a more holistic, systemic, methodical approach. In On Lok’s case, we focused on identifying our key corporate goals and designed our development goals to align with these goals. With goals defined, interventions were developed to meet those goals and specific action plans developed for each intervention. On Lok’s Team has been very successful at executing on these plans and is now realizing the development and corporate goals they’d hoped to meet.

3. What has been the most rewarding part of this experience?

In a way, the experience itself has been the reward. We have enjoyed partnering with these organizations to help them provide better services to their clients. Both, Goodwill of SF and On Lok Lifeways, have dedicated, talented and really good-natured people working in their Learning and Development groups. Our work has been very productive and fun over the years. We have built friendships while building their systems and services. It is truly gratifying to hear that the plans we’ve made have been put into action and that the results have been positive. We get energy from the success of our clients because we understand how important the work is that their respective organizations do for our communities.

4. What advice would you give to someone interested in volunteering for the HR Pro Bono Corps?

There really is no downside to joining the HR Pro Bono Corps. Depending on your circumstances, the time commitment may be a challenge, however, our clients have been more than understanding when competing priorities mean that we need to cancel or reschedule a meeting. However, a volunteer should come in understanding that to affect change via these partnerships is going to take time and, depending on an organization’s needs, this time commitment can be months. A Corp volunteer should make sure that they can commit enough time to their clients so as to reach their goals.

In addition, no person knows everything so reach out to other colleagues and peers to help you if you aren’t strong in a particular area. If you need additional support, contact the HR Pro Bono Corps team and see if they have anyone who can assist. The benefit of such a Foundation is that there is a diverse pool of resources that may be brought to bare on almost any given situation.

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Thank you Dan and Jeff!  Do you have a few hours to help build the organizational capacity of a nonprofit?  Learn more about the HR Pro Bono Corps and sign up to volunteer today.

About Alec Green

As Chief Marketing Evangelist, Alec Green is responsible for developing the overall marketing plan and strategy for the Foundation, executing all outbound communications, increasing visibility of the Foundation’s programs, and building engagement with our partners... more

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Pro Bono Spotlight: Salima Hemani

April 10, 2014Alec Green

National Volunteer Week rolls on and we are proud to recognize another member of our HR Pro Bono CorpsSalima Hemani is a senior Organizational Development and Change Management Executive with over 15 years of management consulting experience as part of top global organizations. She is currently the Senior Director of Organizational Capability at Marriott International, as well as the Owner and Principal Consultant for SZH Consulting LLC, a small, woman-owned company focused on providing management consulting services in the areas of change management, organizational effectiveness, learning and leadership development, process improvement, and program management.

Tell us a little more about your background and how you got involved in the HR Pro Bono Corps.

I believe that part of living a balanced life includes committing time towards the betterment of the society and communities that we live in. Even though I come from the private sector, I have always had great admiration for the work that nonprofits do in making our world a better place, and have been interested in finding ways to support these great organizations beyond just providing financial donations. I was introduced to HR Pro Bono Corps through a colleague of mine when she heard that I was looking for ways to contribute in the community through my skills and expertise in the Human Capital field. HR Pro Bono Corps was the perfect match.

Since joining the HR Pro Bono Corps, what volunteer projects have you worked on?

Since joining, I have worked with the Goodwill Industries of Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Luis Obispo Counties. They are one of the 180+ Goodwills around the world which provide training and education to disadvantaged individuals.  As part of their strategic plan to retain and develop their top talent, their Board had asked the HR team to give due attention to the training and development needs of their leadership group. I worked with the HR director and his deputy to define a leadership competency framework for their organization. Based on this framework, we further defined the key functional, technical and management competencies required at various leadership levels, and identified efficient and effective methods through which to build & sustain these in the target population. I also helped them identify cost-effective training resources (such as partnership with local community colleges and other regional Goodwills) that can be aligned with their very specific training needs. In the end, I helped them get on the path towards rolling-out of the training program for the rest of the organization based on the lessons learned from the pilot group, and then built out the other supporting performance management and change management/coaching programs.

What has been the most rewarding part of this experience?

Working on the pro-bono project has been an incredible experience. The satisfaction and sense of fulfillment that I got, from seeing the direct impact of my work in making my nonprofit client organization more effective in delivering their mission of improving the lives of the disadvantaged, is immeasurable. Beyond that, volunteering as part of HR Pro Bono Corps has allowed me to stretch my capabilities by getting the experience of implementing my expertise in the nonprofit industry and formulating solutions that comply and meet the unique needs and challenges of the nonprofit organizations that I don’t necessarily come across in my daily job.

What advice would you give to someone interested in volunteering with the HR Pro Bono Corps?

Pro-bono work provides professionals the opportunity to give back to their communities in a meaningful way. Volunteering with HR Pro Bono Corps is unique because it expects and requires that you bring the same level of professional commitment and due diligence as you would to your regular job. As an HR Pro Bono Corps volunteer, you get the opportunity to work with senior leadership from leading nonprofit organizations, who rely on your subject matter expertise and professionalism as a volunteer to help them with some of their most critical needs in the human capital area.

Do you know of a nonprofit that could benefit from some pro-bono consulting?  Or do you have a few hours to apply your skills and experience to help build the capacity of a nonprofit?  Learn more about the HR Pro Bono Corps and sign up today!

About Alec Green

As Chief Marketing Evangelist, Alec Green is responsible for developing the overall marketing plan and strategy for the Foundation, executing all outbound communications, increasing visibility of the Foundation’s programs, and building engagement with our partners... more

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