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Last week I ended my post with a quote that stuck out to me in that you have to start somewhere. As I went home and reflected upon my experience with the Institute and my Professional Work Experience thus far, I realized that this quote was so relatable because it’s how I feel. Working towards my MPA is just the starting point of the rest of my career.


As we came back together last Friday for the Institute, our participants received the results of their capacity scores. Some were surprised (both happily and not-so-happily), some knew exactly where their organization stood, and others just felt overwhelmed by this influx of information. As we looked at our group capacity scores, the average was a 2.55 which is considered “moderate” capacity. Considering that our groups consist of well-established organizations and true start-up organizations, this was a pretty good score!


Breaking it down a little further, we discovered that organizational skills were where we were struggling as a group. This includes things like performance and evaluation, operational planning, financial planning, revenue generation, and management of legal and liability matters. We realized that much of the problem is that these managers have continued business “as business has always been done.” Does this mean that they are operating to their fullest potential or even properly in some cases? Now that we have all of this data collected and analyzed, Dr. Palmer and I know how to move forward with the remainder of the Institute.


Today’s focus was volunteer management and program evaluation. Most of the organizations in the Institute rely heavily on volunteers so we felt it was important to really break down every step in a volunteer recruitment and management program. We considered things like confirming readiness, writing job descriptions, conducting volunteer interviews and orientations, evaluating volunteers and accepting feedback from volunteers. I led much of this training because I love this topic! I do a lot of this in my ”day job” and have learned some really valuable lessons that I think can help these participants.


Volunteer recruiting and management was a great lead-in to program evaluation. These leaders are all so passionate about creating change in our community through their different programs…..but are they functioning to their greatest potential? Probably not. As we went through the curriculum and asked each of these leaders to share more about their programming, there were some intersections that they discovered. It was so great to be sitting in the room as these leaders realized that they could help each other by intersecting their strengths.


There is an article on titled, “Nonprofit Collaborations: Why Teaming Up Can Make Sense.” The article lays out five benefits for collaboration such as cost savings, enhanced programs, more efficient outreach, expands the value proposition, and increased leadership skills. To read the article, click here.

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