Local Leaders Offer Advice for Nonprofits

by Support Kansas City

In April 2015, SKC awarded the Excellence in Nonprofit Leadership awards to Community LINC, who won the award for an agency with a budget of $1 million or more. Girls on the Run of Greater Kansas City also received the award for an agency with a budget of $1 million or less.  The panel of reviewers that selected the award winners included Karen Gettinger with the United Way of Greater Kansas City, and Cindy Laufer with the Midwest Center for Nonprofit Leadership, Tom McCoy with Employee Engagement Institute, and Bruce Scott with Bruce Scott Leadership Coaching.  We asked our reviewers to reconvene following the selection process to discuss how to improve the award process and converse about what they felt were the common ideas and practices that should be shared with the community.  Here are some highlights of that fascinating discussion:

Bruce Scott, Bruce Scott Leadership Coaching  – “There is a proliferation of 501c3’s and a demand for transparency.  It makes it tough to know who to listen to.  We need boards that can help figure that out.  We are drowning in a sea of stakeholders, accreditors, mission beneficiary recipients, and families of recipients.  All have agendas.  A high-functioning board can help prioritize staff’s response.  To say – this is what we really do.  Keep the banner high and hold it proudly.”

Karen Gettinger, United Way of Greater Kansas City – “How is program and agency performance shared? So what if you collect it?  It needs to be acted on – there is an expectation to make changes.  Sometimes information gets lost in the day-to-day struggle to get things done.  Step back and ask “how can we do this better?”  If boards are talking about the same things at every meeting, then change isn’t occurring.”

Cindy Laufer, Midwest Center for Nonprofit Leadership– “Nonprofits know they need to do things differently, but don’t always know what to do. Staying up to date on what is new is important but staying true and focused on mission is vital. There are always new trends and those that can help achieve your goals can be useful but don’t do new and trending for the sake of being new and trendy.”

Tom McCoy, Employee Engagement Institute – “In reviewing the applications, we saw many situations where an organization excelled in a specific area such as documentation or board development or performance measurement or marketing. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the specifics of how those “best practices” were accomplished could be shared with all the organizations who participated? Perhaps this could be done by applying the same information sharing techniques that a company uses to become a “Learning Organization” only in this situation consider the nonprofit world in KC as a single, large organization.”

For the benefit of the nonprofit sector everywhere, we wanted to provide resources for ways we can continue to operate and grow within this era. And once social distancing begins to fade, what lessons can we take from this to improve our operations permanently. Come back often for more updates.