Friday, March 08, 2013

Expanding Resources Available for NPO Sector

This graphic is from this PDF presentation which was presented by Kim Silver of Mission Measurement at a January 2012 Philanthropy Club of Chicago meeting. I hope you'll read it. It shows a path out of economic darkness for non profit sector organizations who are able to incorporate these ideas into their strategies.

When Kim presented this she repeatedly used examples of tutor/mentor programs to illustrate her message, but out of over 40 people in the room, there were only five or six such programs represented. I said to myself, "What would it take to bring this presentation to the Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference, where leaders of dozens of different programs could be engaged in an effort that identifies the "hot spots" that would motivate business leaders to dip into the $6 trillion dollar bucket of available funds to support programs throughout the city who do work that helps build a future workforce, while also providing learning and networking opportunities to their current workforce."

I spoke to Kim about this and she said one challenge would be that every tutor/mentor program has different goals and serves different age groups. It would be almost impossible to build a set of common metrics that CEOs would respond to. She also said that I could not afford their services.

The first challenge is that most programs use words to describe the services they provide, and those words don't communicate long-term or shared goals as well as pictures. Visit the Chicago Program Links and browse web sites of nearly 200 Chicago youth organizations to see how differently they each define mission.

I have used graphics for many years to communicate a vision of helping kids through school and into jobs and careers. If a program is working with 4th grade kids what does that organization do to help build the support system these kids need in 5th grade and beyond? If a program works with 10th through 12th graders, what does it do to assure the neighborhood has feeder programs working with elementary and middle school youth. What is the "hot spot" of a business that each of these programs addresses? Are their common hot spots?

How many programs define the different activities as part of an on-going, age-appropriate set of supports intended to help kids through school and into work?

How many businesses encourage volunteer involvement in programs throughout the city, in roles beyond tutor/mentor, which include board, communications, tech support, planning and leadership development activities? How many companies use maps to understand their footprint in the city and to plan future impact?
If CEOs would adopt this ROLE OF LEADERS strategy they would develop learning, research & development, and marketing teams in their companies, drawing from web libraries that show benefits to business, and that show what competitors are doing that they could duplicate in their own work.

While companies compete for business they should be working collectively to develop the talents and skills of current and future employees. With states like Illinois cutting funds for eduction it is up to business to take steps that assure they have the workforce they will need 10 and 20 years from now.

As I said, Kim told me I could not afford her company's services. That's the final challenge.

If we can see where the $6 Trillion dollars in corporate talent and resources reside, who can work with myself and other tutor/mentor program leaders in Chicago to help us define and communicate visions and strategies that motivate CEOs to reach into this pool of resources to support career-focused tutor/mentor programs as part of corporate self interest?

Instead of dozens of individual programs hiring consultants and trying to figure out ways to tap into this resource, why can't dozens of programs doing similar work try to find ways to motivate corporations to support all of us?

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