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Can you identify? Nonprofit Interviews-Challenges Solutions Funding

Can you identify with these results? Nonprofit Interviews: Their Challenges, Solutions & Funding Plans
In May, I was fortunate enough to visit 16 non profit organizations in Southern California—all within easy reach of Claremont, California where we will be holding a training workshop in September in partnership with Pitzer College. To get more background, feel free to download my complementary eBook on Designing and Funding Non Profit Projects.
 
Non Profit Surveys  

Workshop participants working on a program design.
I wanted to see firsthand what challenges this range of nonprofits was facing, what goals they were hoping to achieve over the next six to 12 months, and to make sure that our training workshop—Designing and Funding Non Profit Programs—will present an appropriate step-by-step process in helping them reach their goals.
 
The non profits I interviewed worked with:
  1. food banks/emergency food assistance
  2. community gardens that provide food for members, food banks and restaurants
  3. community education program
  4. social justice for women in the prison system
  5. community development/community organizing
  6. urban agriculture/local farming and markets
  7. student scholarships, and high school and college mentoring
  8. youth and the environment
  9. emergency rental assistance/shelter
  10. community centers
  11. after school programs
  12. parental support and skill building
  13. social services
  14. community emergency funds
  15. senior citizen centers
  16. and included colleges and a graduate school
The programming challenges and goals that they prioritized during the interviews included:
Staffing and Volunteers
  • increase in committed volunteer base
  • volunteer management; volunteer coordinator
  • staff for youth programs and parent liaison programs
  • volunteers and funds for program expansion
  • work load reduction for core staff
  • staffing: funds for trained, long-term staff and support staff
  • improved case management with clients: re-assess client need and expand case support
Organization and Program Management
  • increased communication for donors on their organization’s programs
  • quantifying impact
  • assessing community needs
  • increasing/maintaining client base
  • relating organizational wants and needs with client wants and needs
  • setting up a planning process for improving current programs and developing new programs
  • better analysis of success in moving people forward to independence
Funding
  • funding, funding, funding
  • increased donor, membership & customer income
  • funding for experienced staff, volunteer coordinators
  • donor communications: newsletters, blogs, social media
  • identifying donors
  • assistance in paperwork: accounting, reporting and grant writing
Educational
  • keeping kids in high school
  • more robust program in college access for constituents
  • community education: facilities, supplies and facilitators
  • finding organizations for placing undergraduate and graduate interns
  • expanded educational facilities/locations
  • elementary children learning onsite about farming, gardens and where food comes from
Food banks, community gardens and urban agriculture
  • food delivery vehicles
  • equipment: refrigerators and walk-in refrigeration, food storage, bigger buildings
  • community garden supply and tool storage
  • community garden tools, equipment, supplies and delivery trucks (and drivers)
  • community gardens and urban farms: more customers
  • living wages for urban farmers
  • garden coordinators
  • land
  • access to and funding for participating in farmer’s markets
  • community input: what do food clients want?
  • greater diversity of food at food banks—especially more eggs and meat
  • vegetables that clients will eat and enjoy
Community Development
  • rapid re-housing for homeless; permanent apartment units & support
  • financial literacy courses; managing income
  • reduction in energy use city wide
  • getting personal items, fun things and food packages into the hands of women in the prison system
  • space and places to stage and prepare for programs
After the interviews, we looked through the workshop syllabus and we discussed how the different phases of the workshop could help them to achieve their goals—and more clearly communicate these goals to potential donors.
 
How the September workshop will help these organizations achieve their goals:
The workshop is not based upon lectures—it is based upon action. We will not be using case studies. We will be doing it.
 
We will start the workshop off with our partners at Pitzer College and their Huerta del Valle community garden in Ontario on Saturday and Sunday so that we can better understand the process of facilitating a needs assessment and developing a simple project outline.
 
We will then reconvene on Monday at Pitzer College. We will develop the following tangible outputs, tools and techniques for your specific project based upon your own community’s assessment. They will include:
  • developing a project outline with a problem statement, underlying causes, and goals
  • researching solution oriented activities that have worked to solve the project challenge
  • developing project funding documents: log frames, budgets and schedules
  • writing a newsletter or blog announcing the new program for your current donor base
  • developing a letter of inquiry for a donor presentation
  • exploring ways to identify donors
  • writing a detailed workshop plan for your first community capacity building workshop
We provide cutting-edge information, tools, time-saving templates, training and expert consultancy through this diploma program—and lead you in developing a real project for your organization.
 
DIPLOMA 240: Designing & Funding Non Profit Programs
Blended Training Program—Including:
A 5 Day Live Workshop. Pitzer College, Claremont, California.

Enroll in this blended training program.

Program Information
In this blended learning, 4 month training program you will participate in:
PHASE I: Four weeks.

  1. 3 weeks pre-workshop. Guided Field Data Collection: Community Needs Assessments. Conduct a needs assessment with a community where you work in preparation for use in the workshop—guided through distance learning by CSDi staff. We will provide all of the tools and information you need to conduct the needs assessments.
  2. 2 optional field days. Don’t have community access? Participate in two additional, optional field days the Saturday and Sunday prior to the workshop conducting a participatory needs assessment with our local partner near the workshop venue.
  3. 5 days. A Face-to-Face Workshop. Full Project Design and Development. Working with the CSDi workshop leader, you will use your needs assessment to begin the development of a complete, fundable, launchable project.

PHASE II: 12 weeks.

  1. Post-workshop: In OL 203 and OL 204 form a project team, design capacity-building workshops and launch your project.
Detailed information and logistics. Visit the Non Profit training program page to find full, detailed information, logistics and a syllabus.
 
We look forward to working with you in our training programs.
 
Sincerely,
 
Tim Magee, Executive Director
Center for Sustainable Development
 
Tim Magee is the author of A Field Guide to Community Based Adaptation published by Routledge, Oxford, England.
 
 
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Workshop: Designing & Funding Nonprofit Programs

DIPLOMA 240: Blended Online/Live Workshop Training Program

Designing & Funding Nonprofit Projects
Blended Training Program—Including:
A 5 Day Live Workshop. January 11 – February 5, 2016. Pitzer College, Claremont, California.

Program Information
Designing & Funding Non Profit Programs and Projects.
In this blended learning, 4 month training program you will participate in:
PHASE I: Four weeks. January 11 – February 5, 2016.

  1. 3 weeks pre-workshop. January 11 – 29, 2016. Guided Field Data Collection: Community Needs Assessments. Conduct a needs assessment with a target population in preparation for use in the workshop—guided through distance learning by CSDi staff. We will provide all of the tools and information you need to conduct the needs assessments.
  2. 5 days. A Face-to-Face Workshop. January 30 – February 5, 2015. Full Project Design and Development. Working with the CSDi workshop leader, you will use your needs assessment to begin the development of a complete, fundable, launchable project.
  3. 2 optional field days. January 30 & 31, 2016. Don’t have community access? Participate in two additional field days the Saturday and Sunday prior to the workshop conducting a participatory needs assessment with our local partner near the workshop venue.
  4. Completion Certificate. Receive a workshop completion certificate from the Center for Sustainable Development.

PHASE II: 12 weeks. February 8 – April 22, 2016.

  1. Post-workshop: Enroll in OL 203 and OL 204 to form a project team, design capacity-building workshops, approach donors, and launch your project.
  2. OL 240 Diploma. Upon completion, receive a Diploma from the Center for Sustainable Development.
Download my complementary eBook Four Powerful 1st Steps in Designing & Funding Projects to gain insights into this program.
 
Detailed information and logistics. Visit the non profit training program description to find full, detailed information, logistics and a syllabus.
 
Join us for this transformative program.
Would your organization like to learn how to increase efficiencies and impact in their programs? This four-month diploma program will provide a system of building block activities for you to use on the ground in developing and implementing successful nonprofit programs. The techniques illustrated in this training course use a step-by-step progression to lead participants through problem assessment, project design and implementation. You will package your project design components for enhancing donor communications.
 
Non profit program effectiveness can be limited by non profit staff’s poor access to mission-critical information and training. We deliver solutions by providing cutting-edge information, tools, time-saving templates, training and expert consultancy through blending a face-to-face workshop with distance learning—and lead you in developing a real project for your organization.
 
This workshop is not based upon lectures—it is based upon action. We will not be using case studies: Immediately before the live workshop you will have 3 weeks to facilitate a needs assessment with a real community where your organization works. In the live workshop, you will then develop the following tangible outputs, tools and techniques for your specific project based upon your community’s assessment.
  • clearly assess need in a target community
  • develop a project outline with a problem statement, underlying causes, and solution oriented activities
  • research activities that have worked to solve the project challenge
  • develop project management documents: log frames, budgets and schedules
  • develop a Letter of Inquiry for a donor presentation
 
This blended learning program will lead you through the development of a real project, in real time, in a real community, and leave you with the practical field tools and resources to sustain it.
 
Resources for Designing & Funding Non Profit Programs.

• We will provide access to a library of resources for the different challenges that you’re likely to encounter: studies, manuals, guides, and community capacity building resources.
• You will be able to download a full range of document templates for you to customize to best address your project.
• Course facilitators will work with you individually as consultants throughout the program in developing your specific project.

Although most participants in our non profit programs are from North America or the U.K, we have had the pleasure of also working with non profit participants from: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, and Switzerland.
 
Projects that participants have developed through the diploma program have included activities for the elderly, adaptation to climate change, alternative energy, bicycle paths, business skills training for immigrants, community development, conservation, elderly care facilities, food banks, community gardens, financial literacy, formation of a farmer’s association, natural resource management, recycling, revitalization of an Iowa town, income generation, and vocational skills training.
 
Detailed information and logistics. Visit the Non Profit training program description for find full, detailed information, logistics and a syllabus.
We look forward to working with you in this training program,
Sincerely,
 
Tim Magee, Executive Director

Center for Sustainable Development

 
Tim Magee is the author of A Field Guide to Community Based Adaptation published by Routledge, Oxford, England.
 
Would you like to subscribe to this newsletter?
 

Do you feel client input is important in nonprofit program design?

Chapter 1 Summary of my complementary, 50 page e-book: Four Powerful 1st Steps in Designing & Funding Non Profit Projects.
 

This newsletter is a summary of the introductory discussion from the book on participatory needs assessments complete with downloadable resources: step-by-step instructions, examples and templates.

INTRODUCTION
Great project design will engage donors, increase funding, and ensure sustainable, positive project results. How do we do this?

The First Step
Factual, clear problem definition through research and stakeholder interviews.

Stakeholders could include a range of groups that you could choose from for interviews.

  • the clients themselves
  • volunteers
  • your program staff
  • financial donors
  • donors of products
  • civic human services organizations

Why a participatory needs assessment? There are several excellent reasons. Here are some examples:

  • Donor input can help guide you in ramping up funding.
  • You might discover that community members are facing challenges that you weren’t aware of—but that are solvable.
  • Community members, once having felt that they’ve been heard, begin to develop program ownership leading to long term sustainability.
  • Clearly defining community need can lead to better choices in choosing solution oriented activities—leading to greater project impact. A well designed project will also capture donor attention.
how to lead a participatory needs assessment with a community
CHAPTER 1: Participatory Needs Assessments
Conducting a community needs assessment allows us to gauge need, its underlying causes—and also identify community assets which could be used in support of the project. In a participatory needs assessment your community members are participating with you in the assessment of their need. They are part of the process.

So, how do you conduct a needs assessment? Who do you interview—and how do you do it? Nonprofits have a wide range of programs that they manage—some simple, some complex.

So let’s look at a very simple example.
Let’s say that you work for an urban food bank. Community members that could participate in an assessment could be:

  • the elderly visiting your food bank
  • families trapped in poverty visiting your food bank
  • homeless people visiting your food bank

If you stop right there and just interview your program’s beneficiaries—this would be a pure participatory needs assessment. You could then simply design a project from the results of the assessment.

However, you could then also share the interview results with the stakeholder groups below when you approach them for their feedback and begin engaging them for their assistance.

  • a volunteer organization hoping to place volunteers
  • restaurants and grocery stores willing to donate surplus food
  • farmers willing to donate surplus food
  • nutritionists with knowledge about poverty, under-nutrition, and obesity

You may find interesting project ideas and opportunities in your assessment results. For example:

  • the elderly find it difficult to get to your food bank and to stand in line
  • a nutritionist suggests that you should try to stock a greater diversity of food for increased health
  • farmers would be happy to make donations—but transportation is an issue
  • volunteers could provide time and skills in solving these challenges—but need training

These are challenges which may be excellent opportunities for developing a new project that may be interesting to donors. There are also new opportunities: beneficial partnerships, increased donations, increased revenues, increased exposure for your organization, and receiving help from volunteers.

How do you conduct a needs assessment?
Because of the diversity of each one of your organizations you may need to use slightly different assessment tools. See the list of resources in the full discussion on participatory needs assessments.

Planning for your assessment.
Depending on the complexity of your projects, the planning process can range from quick and simple to sophisticated to scientific.  The full discussion provides links to a number of documents that span this range. You can look through them and decide which method will be best for you.

Please note
This is part of discussion on needs assessments for a course I teach called OL 201, Designing and Funding Nonprofit Projects. The first week of 201 includes detailed instructions for conducting a live needs assessment, specific resources that you will need for conducting the assessment, and an example of a completed assessment and a preliminary project concept based upon the results.

10 Downloadable Participatory Community Assessment studies and guides are included just below and in the full discussion—as is the PDF on Participatory Needs Assessments at the top of this newsletter.

Over the next six weeks I will continue to share with you how you can incorporate these solutions in a step-by-step fashion into the process of project design, and preparation for funding, and implementation.

DOWNLOADABLE PARTICIPATORY COMMUNITY ASSESSMENT STUDIES AND GUIDES
 
Participatory Evaluation Essentials
Anita M. Baker, Ed.D., Kimberly J. Sabo, Ph. D.
The Bruner Foundation
 
Developing a Plan for Assessing Local Needs and Resources
Community Tool Box
 
Communities in Action: A Guide to Effective Projects
Rotary International
 
Urban Indian Voices: A Community-Based Participatory Research Health and Needs Assessment
Chad V. Johnson, PhD, Jami Bartgis, PhD, Jody A. Worley, PhD, Chan M. Hellman, PhD, and Russell Burkhart
 
Community Toolkit: Planning Steps
Livestrong Foundation
 
Needs Assessment Ideas
Craig Van Korlaar
Top Nonprofit
 
How to Conduct a Needs Assessment for Your Nonprofit Program
Stan Hutton and Frances Phillips
Nonprofit Kit For Dummies, 4th Edition
 
Conducting a Community Assessment
Strengthening Nonprofits
 
Field Guide to Nonprofit Program Design, Marketing and Evaluation
Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD, Authenticity Consulting, LLC
 

Over the next two weeks I will continue to share with you how you can incorporate these solutions in a step-by-step fashion into the process of project design, funding, and implementation.

 
Sincerely,
 
Tim Magee

Tim Magee is the author of A Field Guide to Community Based Adaptation published by Routledge, Oxford, England.

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