W e were hired by Associated Black Charities (ABC), a philanthropic grant-maker in Baltimore, to help them enhance the capacity of some of their grantees.
We responded first by assembling our ideas for how to achieve sustainability into a 2-hour workshop that we called “A Path to Sustainability: Practical Strategies in Uncertain Times.” The roughly 60 non-profit leaders who attended the workshop received a glimpse into some of the leading and the most practical strategies they can take in response to the economic uncertainty of our times—from bartering to earned income revenue. The workshop covered a variety of leadership areas, including finance, fundraising, human resources, marketing, communications, operations, programming, strategy, and governance.
At the conclusion of the workshop, participants were invited to complete an online organizational assessment. The Symphonic Strategies Organizational Self-Assessment™ tool measures an organization’s capability in 12 key areas. Using more than 100 separate attributes of high performance, the self-assessment tool helps leaders plot their performance against an ideal, and, more importantly, against a benchmark of peer organizations.
Thirty organizations completed the online assessment (with several organizations having more than one staff member complete the survey). Each organization received a comprehensive report that summarized their scores in each of the twelve functional areas. The report highlighted areas of strength and areas of weakness, and it provided the leadership with recommendations on how they could begin to improve their organization’s capacity.