If we ask any of our nonprofit prospects and clients, what their biggest challenge is besides fundraising, the answer most often received is 'building capacity'.
Those who serve the nonprofit industry offer numerous programs for capacity building training- from grants directly to the organization to expand knowledge and build strategy; to contracts for capacity building initiatives; to offering workshops, conferences, and books from which the nonprofits can learn.
The Foundation Center studied this issue in 2005 and came up with some recommendations on how to help nonprofits build their capacity. And yet a decade later, we are still talking about capacity building as an issue thhat keeps nonprofits from success.
What isn’t working?
Our firm, Harvest Development Group, has studied this issue for two years. We have worked with over 1000 prospective clients in trying to establish a solution that met their needs and their budget. We’ve heard from each of them as to what they have tried to do on their own and what others such as foundations, associations, and in some cases universities, have helped them to do. What we have learned is that for each nonprofit, where the process of capacity building fell apart was in execution.
Good ideas, strategy, recommendations, action steps, all of these concepts are excellent in theory but will fail the nonprofit if they feel unable to execute. Some obstacles to execution are time and resources, confidence and experience, and accountability.
When we realized the scope of this problem, we thought, what if we could create a learning lab, curating the best of educational videos, podcasts, journal articles, and books, in which nonprofit executives could reliably and affordably access these tools in an online workspace, at any time. And what if we supported each learner with a private coach, who would have complete access to their learning progress in the lab, evaluating and mentoring them through assignment completion and assessments, and meet with the learner by phone, skype or google hangout once a month for 90 minutes.
And then what if we could provide an upfront assessment for the learner, one which could help the learner and the coach identify one looming key performance issue in the organization, one in which they want to affect change.
And finally what if we assembled six learners in a team, where they could interact, share ideas, and have rich discussions around topics relevant to the nonprofit industry effecting their organizations?
Around these assumptions we built BLOSSOM: The Virtual Incubator for Nonprofit Executives.
Who we are
Harvest Development Group is a national consulting firm leading nonprofits to embrace the best business practices into their organization for exceptional results. We drive innovative and high performing changes to bring about sustainability and balance in your nonprofits performance.
Sondra Lintelmann-Dellaripa, President and Principal Consultant.
With over 25 years of executive level experience leading nonprofits of all sizes and industry representation, Sondra has set her sites on the 1.5M nonprofits in the U.S., designing vision, strategy, and innovative solutions to improve performance and sustainability. She believes the nonprofit sector is not only important but a critical aspect of an economically and socially thriving community.
A frequent speaker over the last 12 years, she has presented at Blackbaud’s International Conference on Philanthropy, NACHRI, AHP, AFP, and CANP. She is a frequently invited guest lecturer at Quinnipiac College and at Bay Path College’s Graduate Nonprofit Leadership program. She is a published contributor to a variety of well-known association journals. Sondra is Trustee for the International Disaster Accountability Project and has held volunteer positions as community advisor for the UN’s World Food Programme, and has participated as a member of the grant approval committee for Susan G. Komen. She is an elected member of the National Honor Society for Business Delta Mu Delta.