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Case Studies

August 6th, 2009

Reach Out Recovery

Leslie Glass, founder of Reach Out Recovery, contacted Karen Eber Davis Consulting . For several years, Leslie had been growing a nonprofit with the goal of changing the way we view people with addictions. Leslie knew that culturally we throw stumbling blocks at people undertaking this heroic journey. Instead, she recommends we support and celebrate their recovery.

Leslie was stymied. She had run into numerous roadblocks—special events that took too much time, partners who weren’t returning calls, movies that needed finishing funds, and, generally too little money to create the nonprofit Leslie envisioned.

By working with Karen, Leslie began to identify possibilities and use strategies that lead her forward. One key, that Karen recommended, was for Leslie to meet with and talk to people until she had met and engaged all of the major “addiction” players, especially those who knew her new perspective was critical. This included people in governments, nonprofits, filmmakers, foundations, and academia. Amongst them, Leslie found helpers, supporters, and experts who pointed her to the resources she needed.  “I highly recommend Karen,” Leslie states. “She will help you do your dream.”

Resources to the Max

This work involved helping a group create a new service for its 214 member organizations and 100,000 individual members. The goal of the resource center was to support member’s new efforts and struggles. The concept involved staffing the center and providing high-quality books, compact discs, links, etc. The client sought to add this service with as little investment as possible. The pre consultant plan was to hire staff with librarian skills to handle the materials part-time. Karen’s research into several successful center and unsuccessful efforts provided a better plan. Two key recommendations were made. The first was to hire someone full-time rather than the part-time. This quadrupled the support provided and reduced the cost of providing each resource by 400 percent. Recommendation number two was to hire personnel with “midwife skills.” The client took both recommendations and the Center is now in its 15th year. It successfully survived numerous budget cuts and continues to EDUCATE, EQUIP, and CONNECT leaders.

Make Your “A” Program Into An A+++

A non-profit identifies its most successful program serving high school children with disabilities. Karen Eber Davis Consulting helps them to design ways to extend and enhance this programming. We also discover new money to pay for it. Staff uses the resources and ideas to upgrade and expand their summer and after-school program. In turn, the resulting improvements attract additional funding and resources. Energized by their new understanding of how to create excellence in their programming, the organization’s leadership selects another program to upgrade.

Follow Your Bliss

A visionary non-profit identifies a future funding stream in an area of their passion– youth service. Instead of waiting for the federal opportunity to be announced, Karen Eber Davis Consulting researches and studies best practices around the concept. It helps the non-profit to develop a first-class program. At first they meet with community resistance, but overcome this by relationship building. When the federal funding becomes available, the non-profit is receiving local recognition for its new stellar efforts for youth. It wins top ranking in the federal application competition. In two years, the program obtains local, state and national funding from governments, corporations, foundations and individuals to expand and sustain it. In turn, they use these awards to increase the non-profit organization’s prestige and improve the morale and dedication of its staff as it follows (more of) its bliss. Total raised: $628,000+

Manifesting Great Art
An art organization that receives local funding seeks help. From several new sources, Karen Eber Davis Consulting identifies opportunities and then creates the initial applications for them. In future years, staff uses them as templates. The process provides the organization with an ability to streamline their grant seeking process for these profitable, but cumbersome annual opportunities. With the templates in hand, staff obtains the funds every year while they juggle the demands of their key ten-day festival that occurs just after the deadlines. Karen Eber Davis Consulting also helps staff to learn new ways to convey its artistic excellence to donors. This communication increases their funding competitiveness. The organization receives local, state and national funding based on its excellence– awards which provide both money and increased prestige. Total funds raised: $185,426

Establish An Effective Development Shop
An organization launches a massive growth campaign to double their yearly output. Their staff includes a new development officer with great community connections, but minimal development experience. Via a mentoring program that takes the shape of weekly meetings and follow-up activities, Karen Eber Davis Consulting directs him and the new team they develop to “board the train and while riding it–re-fuel it.’ The organization raises over $500,000 the first year and establishes the necessary long-term infrastructure for its growth goals. Total funds raised: $1,642,000. Total funds raised for affiliate: $412,000.

Compete Better
A multifaceted social service organization that serves seniors has many needs–but minimal staff to execute the needed solutions. Karen Eber Davis Consulting provides the tools needed to organize their grant seeking and to keep the best opportunities on the ” front burner.” At the same time, the firm identifies worth-the-risk new grant sources. The process results in impressive improvements in the organization’ s competitiveness for funds, plus a nine-fold return on their investment. Best of all for day-to-day sanity, when the organization pursues grant funds, it works from a base to pursue them without throwing the whole organization into chaos. Total funds raised to date: $918,800

Establish New Programs For Funding and Branding
A new performing art agency’s main event takes place just six weeks per year. They needed to even-out their cash flow and broaden their community appeal. They had a general idea of what might work. Karen Eber Davis Consulting helped them to develop a program that perfectly fits their needs to provide performing art in nursing homes and other institution settings. It provided more year-round income, increased year-round community recognition and over time helped them to grow their donor base. In a short time, the program received a national award and the organization moves from being the “new kid on the block” to providing a recognized model for innovative social service-art programming, a program that is still going strong.

Time Saver
People with non-profit dreams and often 501(c) (3) designations were contacting the Non-profit Resource Center Director frequently. They had great passion and interesting ideas, but almost all most lacked a realistic non-profit business plan. Listening to each story required at least half an hour of the Director’s time. We helped the Director create an opportunity, using existing resources, to provide next-step-help to these individuals in a way that required a minimum amount of the Director’s time. The Director assigned an experienced volunteer, with an interest in helping new non-profits, to create a one-on-one monthly opportunity. Now, when the Director receives appropriate calls about new non-profits, she recommends the opportunity. During the session, the volunteer listens, suggests next steps, offers appropriate referrals and collects data about community needs. Benefits: New non-profit leaders are better served, heard and connected to appropriate resources to develop next step plans. The volunteer followed his interests and also collects information that helps to shape future programming at the Resource Center. Most importantly, the Director saved significant time each week.

Double in Less than Two Years
To meet community need, The Food Bank of Manatee needed more food. Fortunately, untapped resources existed. They included unsold local farm produce; delayed fruit shipments with little commercial value from the nearby port, plus meat and other food nearing expiration dates from grocery stores. With transportation and community connections this food, instead of being discarded, was transformed to feed the hungry. We helped The Food Bank to obtain a refrigerated truck, a refrigerated van, food collection barrels and other tools to make this happen. Benefits: These items allowed The Food Bank to retire several worn vehicles, serve over 40 new partner agencies and double the food they distributed. Food gained over three years: two million pounds.

Developing a “What’s Next” Strategy
Clothes to Kids celebrated its sixth birthday and was growing up fast. In six years, the non-profit launched a successful store. Each week, they provided 250-300 children wardrobes to meet their mission of providing new and quality used clothing to low-income, school age children in Pinellas County Florida —free of charge. With this success behind them, they faced a new question. What was next for Clothes to Kids? Over three months, we worked with staff and stakeholders to develop a set of possible futures. By the end of the board strategy session, we helped the board to determine a unique future plan, grow in their relationships to each other, and become energized by the future. Our work helped Clothes to Kids gain increased clarity, improve teamwork, increase peace of mind, and reduce stress. Value: Solid support to sustain new store.

Obtaining New Resources

The Manatee Human Services Network, a partnership of about 60 non-profit organizations that receive United Way funds or Manatee County funds or both, wanted to help their member organizations that faced significant funding cuts. The organizations the Network served needed new resources to continue and enhance their missions. We provided the Power of Partnerships Workshop for their members. During it, participants learned a number of partnership fundamentals and enjoyed five “speed dating” sessions to explore partnerships among members. Through these relatively simple guided steps, participants found solutions for their organizations and helped others to increase their success, too. They also learned that they were already involved in more than 1,000 partnerships—something to celebrate. Number of partnerships supported: 1,076.

Sustaining Great Programs

We worked with the Senior Friendship Center to develop a sustainability plan for the Senior Friendship Center Resource Center, a $100,000 per year service that, until that time, had been primarily grant funded. Creative thinking and a careful nurturing of staff’s ability “to think outside the box” helped them to develop permanent funding for their two centers that included a combination of creative ideas and income from earned revenue, corporate fees, foundations, and individuals. Value: $100,000 per year.

To Do More of the Right Things, Doing Less of the Wrong Thing

To remain viable, a multifaceted family organization must close a program. Karen Eber Davis Consulting leads them through a process of discerning which program to close. We, also, help them to develop plans to implement the closing using proven techniques from respected non-profits. Finally, the firm helps them to use the resources freed up to strengthen their remaining high mission, high-outcome programs. The organization gains improved community respect. It also improves its use of limited resources. Finally, the staff and board establish a new commitment to focus on what they do best and to refrain from engaging in weak-outcome, low-income efforts– even if someone else pays for them initially.