Get Back to Basics

Tuesday June 30, 2020 comments Tags: nonprofit, accounting, mission, vision, tools, infrastructure, systems, capacity building

Any accounting, business or tax advice in this here podcast is not intended as a thorough in depth analysis of your specific issues. It's not a substitute for a formal opinion. It is not good enough to avoid tax related penalties. Got to tell you this because don't want y'all coming for me.  Hey, it's Chyla Graham. Welcome to season three of the Nonprofit Nuggets Podcast. This season is going to be about infrastructure and systems. You know, the things I love. I'll be talking to some friends and you get to hear their interviews spread out over time. Because as you know, we keep these things short and sweet, but for those of you who want a little bit more in depth, and you're like, I'd rather listen to them all at one time, head over to our website, we'll post those there.

Did you know that I offer free 30 minute strategy sessions, strategy sessions are time for you to come with questions about the challenges your nonprofit is facing and for us to work through what that looks like, are there some resources that you need to be connected with? Are there some tools that we have that could guide you? Strategy sessions are free because I want you to have this time to really flesh out and talk out loud about what your organization is needing and if CNRG is a fit, great. But if not, we really want to make sure that you have what you need to take the next best step. Book a time on my calendar using calendly.com/cnrg/strategy. Back to the episode.

Chyla Graham (12:01):

Yeah. Well, if an organization needed to think about staffing and priorities, where would you say in either the collection of data or the evaluation process, how should they prioritize what they do first?

Amanda Wallander Roberts (12:18):

Well, really, it should all go back to the logic model. So a logic model is a tool for a nonprofit organization that connects what we do with why we're doing it. What we're actually doing those activities to the outcomes we're anticipating. And based on that logic model, you can create an evaluation plan and really say, "Okay, for everything we think we're going to do, are we meeting those outcomes? Are we actually changing the communities in the way that we expected?" And then we can also evaluate are we implementing programs as planned?

Amanda Wallander Roberts (12:52):

So once you have those two pieces in place, that logic model and the evaluation plan, that evaluation plan will show you, here are the exact things you need to be tracking. And if you don't have enough staff to be tracking it, it's really about prioritizing, "Okay, this thing can wait until next year. We're not quite ready to track that." Or, "You know what? We really do need to hire a new part-time data entry person."

Amanda Wallander Roberts (13:18):

But a lot of the times, we just don't think of how we can be most efficient. So for example, if we're doing paper surveys because our client population is more likely to fill out a paper survey, that's great. If we're doing paper surveys because we've always done paper surveys, then why don't we do them on an iPad or something, or a text survey, and then that data is already entered for us? Looking at what makes sense for our organization staffing and also what makes sense for the population that we're serving, and finding those ways that we can be most efficient and effective.

Chyla Graham (13:54):

Efficiencies. It's so exciting. Great word. So we touched a little bit around priorities, which is one of the pillars here for CNRG is, "Hey, we want to think about your mission. We want to think about your priorities, your tools. But we also have your story." And can you tell us a little bit about how you help organizations tell their story?

Amanda Wallander Roberts (14:21):

Yeah. It's really interesting because people feel like evaluation and fundraising are so wildly different, people feel like data and that storytelling piece are completely different. But what I really love to do is show organizations, you really need both. You need the data showing here's the need in the community, and then the powerful story about how we are not only meeting that need, but we're doing so in way that's either evidence based or research informed, and we're also being effective.

Amanda Wallander Roberts (14:56):

So I feel like all of these pieces come together, each data point comes together to tell that organization story in a beautiful way. And of course I love weaving in any sort of personal anecdotes or feedback or clips from a thank you card that people have received to show both, it is so much about the data, but it's also about that personal touch as well.

Amanda Wallander Roberts (15:23):

So I really like to start with what the community needs, why they need it, that this program that we're doing is super effective and is built that way, that the community wants our program and then move into, "And here's how we know we're effective because of the outcomes we've seen. And here's the impact we've heard about from our clients." So building that case on data.

Chyla Graham (15:48):

It all comes back to data.

Amanda Wallander Roberts (15:51):

Yeah. And it's such a crucial part of your story too, because if you just focus on telling the stories from individual perspectives, then you are missing that bigger piece of how this works within the community, of how important these types of services are. And you're missing painting the picture of the real issue.

Amanda Wallander Roberts (16:17):

So if you don't have that picture of the real issue that your organization is working to address, it's going to be hard to convince people to care about your organization, because there's so many wonderful programs. There's so many great programs everywhere you turn, and it's like, okay, but which ones do we really need here?

Chyla Graham (16:38):

Yeah. That makes sense. And how do you then help organizations who need to do that switch of gears? They're used to that idea of, "This is what's happening in my heart. I can feel it." Or they just have those personal, "This person benefited from our program." How do you help them switch from that internal one to one, to a larger picture.

Amanda Wallander Roberts (17:07):

Typically, I start with a logic model. That is the tool I most often come back to because it really forces organizations to sit down and say, "Okay, but we do this one particular thing. Why? What is the outcome there?" And once you're able to align, here's what we're doing with what we're trying to accomplish, even if you don't have that data yet, you can use what you feel and your heart in that logic model. And then evaluate it to see if that's really the impact you're having, because a lot of us think we're having a certain impact, but we don't exactly know.

Amanda Wallander Roberts (17:43):

So when you sit down and you create that logic model, you're able to start saying, "Oh, what I'm feeling isn't necessarily untrue. This whole data perspective isn't contrary. It's just supplementary. These can work really well together. I don't have to be a completely different person. I don't have to change everything about myself in order to collect data."

Chyla Graham (18:08):

Yeah. That's good. That's good to know for me personally, because I feel like logic models come up a lot and I'm just like, should I do one for my business?

Amanda Wallander Roberts (18:18):

Yes. I have one for my business, I have one for my personal life. I have a logic model for everything. They are amazing.

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