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2018 Course Catalog is Live: What You Need to Know

The wait is over. You may now register for classes scheduled for the early part of 2018. Before you get started, we hope you will read this blog to better understand our philosophy and values, as well as some new elements of our programming. We hope you share our excitement for the year ahead and we look forward to seeing you soon. Continuous Learning In 1998, The Community Foundation was a co-collaborator and co-investor in the creation of Especially for Nonprofits, a program designed to meet the unique professional development needs of our local nonprofit sector. It quickly became an important resource for those working for, or on behalf of, community based organizations. Over the years, the program has evolved – in name, content and format – in response to changing dynamics in our community, as well as input and insight from course participants, nonprofit leaders and education professionals. What remains consistent is our belief that strong, skilled leaders – regardless of position or tenure – are essential in building strong, sustainable organizations and a healthy, thriving community. We will continue to help nonprofit staff, boards and volunteers build knowledge and skills through affordable, high quality learning events. Through diverse programming and partnerships, the sector can bring greater efficiency and effectiveness to its mission-driven work.

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Word Soup: Achieving “impact” starts with how you define it

Perhaps the best way to capture community impact is to measure against the goal(s) of the person, organization or partners who choose to act. They may support or deliver programs intended to expand mental health services, increase access to safe and affordable housing or increase participation in the arts. Results, however, are influenced by other factors such as reliable transportation, job opportunities and child care. With this level of complexity, we strive to view community impact as a coordinated effort in which multiple partners come together to define expectations, integrate services and measure progress with the full set of participant needs in mind...which leads us to the next term.

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Event Recap: Building Strong, Strategic, Sustainable Nonprofits.

Do you know that moment when you have a sense of a concept, but then someone comes along and clarifies it with a spot-on phrase or illustration? You think, “A-ha, if only I had thought of it this way.” Last week, many local nonprofits had that moment while listening to guest speaker Steve Zimmerman, co-author of Nonprofit Sustainability: Making Strategic Decisions for Financial Viability, who shared insights into managing the sustainability of nonprofits.

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YNPN RVA Recommends: Advice for Developing Your Nonprofit Staff

While mission and impact are the heart and soul of a nonprofit, there are many integral parts behind the scenes that make the magic happen. Beyond defining your mission and establishing metrics to measure your impact, it is essential to nurture your people. Yes, your people are your volunteers, donors and supporters, but your people are first and foremost your staff. The hardworking nonprofiteer that is daily putting your mission into action – teaching parents financial literacy, educating teens on healthy lifestyle choices, or providing meals to hungry children. And yet, many organization and nonprofit executives neglect or lack any formal strategic talent development or career progression plan for their staff – and to their loss

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Creating a More Inclusive Environment at Your Nonprofit: An Introduction

In March, The Community Foundation Serving Richmond and Central Virginia gathered alumni of its Emerging Nonprofit Leaders Program (ENLP) and current members of its 10th class at the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia. Jonathan Zur, President and CEO of Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities led the group through a robust discussion and brainstorming session on ways local organizations and leaders can take action to create a culture of inclusion in their nonprofit organizations and across the sector.

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6 Tips for Building Relationships with RVA Media

Media coverage of your nonprofit organization can help increase community awareness, promote upcoming events and engage new donors. It’s important to decide which of your initiatives and programs are newsworthy to limit the number of times you pitch story ideas to a media outlet. If you bombard the media or keep sending irrelevant press releases, then your big announcements won't make any impact.

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Building Evaluation Culture in Nonprofit Organizations


We caught up with Trina Willard – principal and founder of the Knowledge Advisory Group (KAG) about an often confusing, but incredibly important topic – how to build a culture of evaluation in a nonprofit in order to thrive.  Here’s what she’s seeing in the field and the advice she gave:

While assisting nonprofit organizations with data and measurement responsibilities, we are often asked about the struggles they experience trying to get their staff “on board” with program evaluation efforts. The conversation usually goes a bit like this:

Nonprofit:  “Program evaluation? Ugh.  Our staff doesn’t have time for all that data stuff.  On top of everything else they already have to do?  No, it’s just seems too hard. Besides that, who really uses that information anyway?”

KAG:  “Hmmm…perhaps we should dig into those perceptions a bit.  What steps are you taking to build an evaluation culture, side-by-side with your service culture?”

Nonprofit:  “Evaluation culture?  What’s that?”

And therein lies the challenge.  As program evaluation has become more important within the landscape of nonprofit program and resource development, its integration into the culture of nonprofit organizations often lags behind.

So what exactly do I mean by evaluation culture? In a nutshell, it is the foundation for systematic and successful evaluation efforts and entails three primary elements:

  1. How your staff thinks and feels about evaluation

What is the climate like in your nonprofit when staff discusses evaluation? Do they express anxiety or feel apprehensive about the evaluation process?  Or are they energized by the opportunity to demonstrate progress and continuous improvement?  An effective evaluation culture places an emphasis on the latter.

  1. Your board & leadership’s philosophy about evaluation

 What is your organization’s overarching philosophy on the role of evaluation in driving your program model?  What is its role in resource development? How are these messages communicated by leadership?  If leadership is engaged, this prepares the organization for active engagement, as an evaluation plan won’t implement itself.  Organizational leaders can help identify and set priorities for an internal evaluation champion who will drive the process, provide oversight and monitor implementation.

  1. How your organization integrates evaluation into key functions and processes

 Nonprofit best practices address program evaluation as an ongoing, systematic approach that is designed to continually develop programs, maximize effectiveness, and address community needs as they change.  As such, evaluation infrastructure and principles should weave throughout the organization, thereby becoming an integral part of strategic planning processes, human resource structures, programmatic data collection procedures, and ongoing organizational reviews.

Cultivation of an improvement-oriented evaluation culture is a critical factor in developing sound nonprofit practices. If you’re interested in learning more, evaluation culture is one of the topics we’ll discuss in our upcoming class Evaluate Your Nonprofit’s Success: Defining & Measuring Outcomes on January 20, 2017 with The Community Foundation serving Richmond and Central Virginia.



Trina Willard is the Principal Consultant at Knowledge Advisory Group. Before founding the Knowledge Advisory Group in 2010, she served for seven years as the Vice President of Transformation Systems Inc. (TSI), a small, award-winning management consulting firm. Her prior experience includes almost a decade as Chief of the Evaluation Unit of the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services, Criminal Justice Research Center.

She provides organizations with measurement, research and evaluation services that inform planning and future organizational development. Trina’s methods examine the implementation and effectiveness of initiatives, programs, policies, and procedures, thereby helping clients guide decisions with the power of meaningful information.

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