Last Friday was the last full day of the summer institute and it was a heavy day! We started by wrapping up strategic planning and then guest speakers covered human resource management and financial management. By the end of the day, all of our participants had that overwhelmed, exhausted look on their faces. I enjoyed hearing the guest speakers talking about human resource management and financial management because so much of it aligns with what we learned in the MPA courses, but it was also really interesting to hear how their perspectives may have differed from our coursework a little bit. I think it comes back to the theory versus practice – what should work in theory won’t always work in practice.
Because it was the last full week, the Consortium director came over to High Point University to take the group photo. I’ve enjoyed getting to know these nonprofit leaders, but it’s clear that they have also really enjoyed the process. Each Friday we all enjoy laughs and meaningful conversation….but what I think is more important is the ability to talk through difficult situations and know that our space can be a “cone of confidentiality.” Especially when discussing human resource management and financial management, if some leaders share that they are either struggling with a staffing or culture issue… or they are currently running in a deficit and need to make changes… they just want the advice of their peers and want to trust that the information won’t be shared.
Back to the title of my post, shifting gears. Since it was the second to last week at the Institute and most of the day was occupied with guest speakers, Dr. Palmer and I had more time to spend revising a key document for our special project. The client has asked us to evaluate and rewrite many of their guiding practices and principles. These principles are nothing unique to their organization, but it was really enjoyable to look at the topics like advocacy, transparency, strategic communications, and board management to rethink how we could approach these topics. Ultimately, we decided to set up a Likert scale system for our client to not only grade themselves, but to also share with their clients. Clients will be asked to grade themselves on a scale of 1-3, with 1 being the most basic and 3 being the most advanced. From there, we will be working with the client to transform this tool into an advanced internal assessment. This can be used to help evaluate what staff perceive as an organization’s strengths and weaknesses, versus what management perceives as the strengths and weaknesses. This idea will be pitched to our client on Tuesday, so I will be excited to report back next Monday with their response to our proposal!