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Case Study

NONPROFIT CASE STUDY: Artistic New Directions

Artistic New Directions (AND) is a nonprofit theatre company dedicated to the development of new works, new artists, and new ideas in the theatrical community. Offering workshops, rehearsal space and connections to actors, directors and writers, AND supports members of the performing community and their projects from inspiration to production.

Principal

Scotty Watson, Past-president of the Board of Directors

Project Scope

AND struggled to improve its fundraising success and also generate more publicity to attract supporters in general and participants to its programs.

Project Results

“With fundraising, we are finding ways to asks more from our constituency; only approximately 20% are currently donating. As a result of the input from Peter Heller, for example, during a recent cash flow emergency, we went to our members and asked for help. It turned out to be one of the best fund-raisers of the year. With public relations, Janet Falk suggested we ask ourselves the questions “So what, why now,” when considering messaging to the public. This led to a new program where our members tell the story of how they came to us using social media. These stories will be a base for future PR campaigns about our company. Her input also gave us some ideas on how to measure how effective our current public relations consultant is, as well as giving us other avenues to explore.

Testimonial

I can’t thank your consultants enough for giving their time to meet with us. We were sure left with a lot of food for thought! These meetings will hopefully change our company’s philosophy when it comes to Fundraising and Public Relations. Changing how you think about a subject is the first step in real organizational change. Nonprofit Action Network helped us use the right foot for the first step in our journey.  –Scotty Watson, April, 2011

NONPROFIT CASE STUDY: SOUTH ORANGE LIBRARY

The South Orange Public Library serves the community with five service areas: information fluency, both literacy and technology; space for community events; community anchor — collections, programming, databases; local history is maintained and preserved; and a center for creativity.

Principal

Karen Hartshorn Hilton, President

Project Scope

South Orange Public Library presented a potential building renovation project and requested NFP feedback.  The organization received a $50,000.00 grant to analyze the feasibility of renovating the existing library structure, which is projected to cost approximately $10,000,000.00. After hearing the presentation, our panel’s comments centered on the following questions:

• What is the concise, compelling reason for this project at this time?
• What is the feasibility of raising $10 million for this purpose?
• What will the organization look like after this project is completed?
• Does anyone within the organization have experience managing a project of this magnitude?

Project Results

The group made specific recommendations, as follows:

• Clarify expected results and benefits to the community for the five service areas as a result of the capital renovation
• Link need for building renovation project to delivery of these results
• Determine what other elements of organizational development are needed in addition to capital construction to deliver these results successfully
• Upgrade website
• Clarify positioning
• Determine who is going to raise the money
• Begin engaging leadership immediately in the fundraising effort
• Set fundraising benchmarks
• Identify expanded leadership and the best organizational structure (either  advisory group or foundation) to maximize fund raising potential and minimize bureaucracy
• Create a list of people with affluence and influence who can help
• Use the architect’s assessment and master plan for face to face conversations with people
• Schedule time to have these important conversations

Testimonial

The South Orange (NJ) Public Library (SOPL) Board asked NFP to take the library’s long-term capital project as a case study through which to share the various areas of expertise that comprises NFP. This became an infusion of ideas and expertise that has proven invaluable to the library. In 2009, the South Orange Public Library received a NJ Historic Trust planning grant enabling the library to work with an architectural firm to assess and prioritize future needs of the our library. This included the evaluation of the original 1896 SOPL building and the existing 1968 building, as well as the current library programs. In the spring of 2012 we had received preliminary plans and reports from the architects and knew we were facing extraordinary challenges, ranging from the financial to the operational. Our biggest challenge was, immediately, determining what needed to be done and in what sequence. This is a project that is charting new territory for the Library Board and staff. On April 4, 2012 the SOPL director and I presented our case in person to the entire NFP group. Just preparing a succinct and presentable summary of our case was an instructive exercise. During and after the presentation, NFP members asked cogent and insightful questions. The range in their specific areas of expertise meant that the questions were wide-ranging as well and brought to our attention many aspects for long-term capital planning that we had not yet considered. That meeting, in itself, was very helpful. Quite frankly, if we had stopped the process after some sort of remarks in response to the meeting from some NFP members, we still would have been grateful beneficiaries of many professionals’ thought. But the process continued. In the next few weeks, we received and returned requests for more specific information. Concerning marketing, strategic planning, and fundraising, the back and forth culminated in a three-hour on site meeting with NFP consultants and SOPL Board and Staff. In summary, we highly recommend NFP and their program and appreciate the sharing of their collective wisdom. The depth of understanding of the issues facing the SOPL Connections project and the corresponding insight presented by the NFP Consultants are providing the critical tools for us the tackle our upcoming challenges. The NFP consultants helped us prioritize and develop the necessary staff and Board structure through with we will work on this ongoing project. Thank you for setting us on the right path. –Karen Hartshorn Hilton, August 2012

NONPROFIT CASE STUDY: Stoked

Stoked is an action sports youth development agency. Its mission is to promote personal development, academic achievement, and healthy living to under-served youth through action sports culture. Stoked currently partners with public high schools in New York City and Los Angeles to provide programming, which includes college and career readiness, afterschool enrichment, community service, and action sports outings.

Principal

Steve Larosiliere, Founder and Executive Director

Project Scope

Stoked has been operating successfully and expanding steadily since 2005, and is currently at a unique stage in its organization life-cycle. Steve joined NFP members in a roundtable discussion to address some of its most pressing strategic questions:

• Should future program expansion focus on quantity (increase number of kids served) or quality (increase amount of time spent with each kid)?
• How can/should the board expand to support organization-wide strategic growth?
• What is the best way to describe what they do (to increase funding, partnerships, etc.), since what they do is pretty unique but can be hard for people to grasp right away?

Project Results

Immediately following his meeting with NFP members, Steve identified two key action items based on the input he received:

• Build funding networks
• Talk to Board members more often

A month later, he reported having taken several steps. In his words:

• I’ve started calling and having great conversations with my top 100 donors—it’s going great!
• I’ve called and spoken to my board members.
• I’ve started working on a strategic plan and will have a draft in two weeks with a board member.

Testimonial

Steve said his experience with the group was “Amazing!” and found it “was great to be open and honest with experts.” Additionally, he reported that he “got specific feedback on my issues that I can implement today.” –Steve Larosiliere, October 2012

NONPROFIT CASE STUDY: Counseling in Schools

Counseling in Schools (CIS) brings quality counseling to students and their families in New York City public schools. Its mission is to advance the positive impact of education on society by providing dynamic school-based social and emotional learning interventions. CIS currently provides individual sessions, peer group experiences, family counseling, creative arts therapy and afterschool activities—all from Licensed Professionals—to students and their families throughout the New York City area. Additionally, CIS offers professional development for teachers and guidance counselors, and strategic planning for leaders of at-risk and failing schools.

Principal

Kevin Dahill-Fuchel, Executive Director
Linda Senat, Board Member

Project Scope

CIS has been successfully operating for over 26 years, with much of its funding coming from government grants. Recognizing the need to diversify its revenue streams and find ways to offset administrative costs not covered by current grants, CIS sought input from NFP on how best to proceed. During their meeting, NFP members addressed not only these issues, but also some larger organizational opportunities.

Project Results

Immediately following their meeting with NFP members, CIS identified two take-aways:

• An appreciation of the strength of the organization’s “story” (including history, accomplishments, impact of services on target population, target population)
• A need to focus energy on presenting that story more effectively (marketing strategies—digital and other) and making a strong push to expand private contributions with an end of year appeal

A month later, CIS reported enjoying almost immediate success in one of these areas. In Kevin’s words: “I sent out two appeals around the time of the holidays. The response we received was significantly greater than any other letter/email appeal we had previously made. During our consultation, NFP member Roxanne Greenstein mentioned that the most end of year dollars are donated during the last two days of the year. This encouraged me to send a follow up to our first appeal right after Christmas. Roxanne’s prediction of people’s donating habits was right on, as a third to one half of the monies we received came in on December 30th and 31st.”

Testimonial

The group is very impressive in its breadth and depth of knowledge in the arena of nonprofit management. I found the meeting very validating and stimulating at the same time. I will take some time to distill the information and look to create some action steps ASAP. I hope that we can continue our relationship to mutual benefit as we move forward in our work. –Kevin Dahill-Fuchel, Executive Director, February 2013

NONPROFIT CASE STUDY: The GO Project

The GO Project is a non-profit organization that provides critical academic, social and emotional support for New York City children who are struggling in their school. It offers a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary program that serves 570 underperforming, but joyful students and their families in four Greenwich Village and downtown locations.

Principal

Erica Ahdoot, Executive Director

Project Scope

The GO Project, with a professional staff of 13 and an established track record of after-school and summer programs, faces a temporary leadership change. Executive Director Erica Ahdoot has advised the board and staff she will take five months maternity leave. She has already prepared timetables of anticipated activities and seeks to maintain continuity in the organization. Erica sought guidance on how the organization could be most effectively led during this period.

Project Results

Options discussed included several combinations of full- or part-time staff on an interim, temporary and/or permanent basis. The use of an experienced Interim Executive Director was also suggested as an option.

Testimonial

“Thank you so much again for taking the time today to support me with my planning and overall thinking about leadership at the GO Project.  It was so great to have the undivided attention of a room of experienced and passionate professionals. You all created a productive and conversational environment, which I found very helpful.  I am looking forward to the recommendations and have already begun to revisit how I might structure coverage for my leave.”  –Erica Ahdoot, Executive Director, The Go Project