From Incremental to Transformational Change to Community Impact!

From Incremental to Transformational Change to Community Impact!

Resource centers are currently serving nonprofit organizations throughout Texas. While the services they offer may vary, their overall purpose is to assist nonprofit organizations to become more effective. According to Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, this is achieved by the “ability of an organization to fulfill its mission through a blend of sound management, strong governance, and a persistent rededication to achieving results.”  Private foundations and funders realize that strong nonprofit organizations lead to greater community impact. More importantly, funders understand that investing in activities such as leadership development, strategic and financial planning, program evaluation, technology improvements, and board development, strengthen nonprofits and provides greater return on grant dollars invested. Nonprofits are being increasingly called upon to provide critical services to their communities. As a result, they are being challenged to make better use of limited resources in the face of growing needs, while becoming more accountable.

Due to this ever-changing environment, nonprofits, human and social service agencies and faith-based organizations are more than ever before in need of new skills, technical assistance, consulting services, board development, strategic planning and training.  Even established nonprofits need assistance to meet new and ever-changing funding requirements, to meet the quality of life needs of an ever growing constituency, and to respond more effectively to needed organizational and structural changes.  At the same time government agencies at the federal, state and local level have less and less resources to deal with human and social service needs, South East Texas nonprofit organizations are being faced with an ever increasing demand for their services and increased competition for funding.

Albert Einstein once said the definition of insanity was ” . . . doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results.”  I believe the time has come for us to shift our attention from modest goals that provide short-term relief to bold goal(s) that, while harder to achieve, provide long-term solutions by tackling the tough challenges.   We must look to address the challenges at the magnitude and scale that they exist.  To be a transformational, change agent that is operating at scale we must be willing to change the norm, and to think fundamentally different about what bold initiative(s) we are/should be pursing.  We must know and understand what those challenges are and how we go from status quo to being a leader, innovator, and a change-agent.

The implications of  this means that many nonprofits will need to pursue new skills, data, and ways of interacting, partnering, collaborating and thinking.  We must be thinking and acting in terms of overall “Community Impact.”  This means we will need community leaders not to only join the conversation, but sometimes to actually change the conversation as well.  We will need to hold ourselves accountable to specific outcome(s) that are bold and believable.  We must inspire stakeholders and community partners, alike.  The economic or political markets can’t/don’t respond to these challenges that is why nonprofits exist but unfortunately not all are necessarily equipped with the resources, skills, training, know-how, and collaborative instincts needed to address the challenges that are laid before us today and those coming at us tomorrow.

A lot of what I’ve written was derived from my own background and experiences and a paper entitled “When Good Is Not Good Enough.”  The paper was co-written by Bill Shore (Founder and CEO of Share Our Strength and chairman of Community Wealth Partners; Darrell Hammond, founder and CEO of KaBoom!; and Amy Celep, president and CEO of Community Wealth Partners).  The paper was published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Fall 2013.