Two questions guide the organizational effectiveness initiative at the Greater New Orleans Foundation:
- How can GNOF best serve its grantees and other community nonprofits to help them better achieve their missions?
- How can GNOF become a better grantmaker?
GNOF’s organizational effectiveness initiative began with a needs scan report to identify the challenges its grantees face. GNOF has used these findings to tailor its approach to capacity building. Nonprofits agreed that partnerships and working with other organizations was key to addressing community challenges, though competition for resources and few successes hindered their progress. As one grantee noted, “peer networking is important but we need to work with a facilitator and understand good practices in partnering.” That’s where GNOF stepped in and offered a webinar, sponsored a workshop and then hosted a six-month community of practice in strategic partnering and collaboration in partnership with LaPiana Consulting. Recognizing the need to build the bench strength of local consultants, GNOF invited five consultants to work with the LaPiana consultant and to participate in a community of practice as well.
As a needs scan focus group member stated, “we need to look forward rather than back and prepare for moments of change,” so GNOF has sponsored hands-on clinics in sustainability, assisting nonprofit organizations to better understand their business models and adapt accordingly.
In addition to the needs scan, GNOF assesses its capacity-building programming through multiple touch points, ranging from one-on-one check-ins with workshop participants to a third-party evaluation of the foundation’s communities of practice. Joann Ricci, vice president of organizational effectiveness, reflected that the learning harvested from formal and informal evaluation helps the foundation adjust to the ever-changing needs among grantees and area nonprofits, and to respond quickly.
For example, youth-serving organizations recognized that mid-level managers needed help in moving into a new role in supervising others, and GNOF was able to respond with a training session titled “Supervisor Roles and Responsibilities: Helping People Succeed” in conjunction with CompassPoint Nonprofit Services.