Southern Oregon Nonprofit Technical Assistance Needs Recommendations for the Delivery of Capacity Building Services
Phase 3 Report
Overview of the project: The Southern Oregon Nonprofit Technical Assistance Project (now named Southern Oregon Nonprofit Capacity Building Project) grew from the needs experienced by funders, consultants, technical assistance providers and nonprofit professionals for appropriate and accessible support services in nonprofit management and technology. Representatives from around Southern Oregon met formally and informally over a two-year period to explore this dilemma. Based on these discussions, an initiative was taken to develop a collaborative process to better understand needs and identify solutions. Consultants Roi Crouch and Mary Ward compiled the recommendations into a three-phase project plan and worked with regional partners to secure needed project resources. The plan included:
Phase 1: Completion of a needs assessment survey of nonprofits in Southern Oregon to collect data on current needs; on how, and to what extent the region’s nonprofit sector is currently using management support services and to assess the capacity of these services to meet the demand now and in the future. The assessment included technology usage and the need for improved technical systems. Phase 1 was funded by Pacific Nonprofit Network/ Southern Oregon University with support provided by Allison Zigich, a Masters in Management student at SOU and others. The phase 1 report was completed in March of 2002.
Phase 2: Inventory of existing resources and ways to access resources including types, costs, availability and formats. Develop a regional resource database with names, expertise and contact information. Development of a gap analysis/assessment of technical assistance needs vs. existing services. Phase 2 was funded by the Oregon Community Foundation and sponsored by Technical Assistance for Community Services (TACS) in Portland, Oregon. The initial resource gathering phase was completed in August of 2002 and the gap analysis was presented in September of 2002. The project team continues to work on providing consultant data via the Internet. This is being done in conjunction with TACS and NetCorps.
Phase 3: Based on results from Phases 1 and 2, develop service delivery recommendations including both traditional models and resources and innovative solutions to meet the identified needs. Phase 3 received funding from the Cow Creek Umpqua Indian Foundation, Stern Family Foundation, PNN/Southern Oregon University, and the Gordon Elwood Foundation with sponsorship by Technical Assistance for Community Services (TACS).
The main goal of Phase 3 is to provide a roadmap for the coordination and implementation of nonprofit capacity building support services in Southern Oregon. This was done through:
- Assessment of needs, existing resources and the gaps between them
- Input from advisory group consisting of foundations, TA providers, consultants, nonprofit organizations and educational institutions
- In-depth conversations with potential service providers
- Prioritizing of implementation focus areas
- Research on existing TA delivery models
The project consultants worked within the following parameters in developing service delivery recommendations contained in this report:
- The models and/or recommendations fit within the proposed mission and values statements.
- All service delivery mechanisms are regionally appropriate to southern Oregon and related nonprofit needs.
Five service delivery areas are explored in this report. These include:
(1)Clearinghouse/Helpline/Resource Coordination, (2) Assessment/ Consultant Services/ Circuit Rider, (3) Training, (4) Peer Networks, and (5) Technology Technical Assistance. Additional report topics include: mission/values, the role of the Sponsoring Group, models for delivery of services, funding approaches, conclusions and next steps.
The following is a synopsis of the recommendations made in this report. Please refer to individual sections for detailed information.
- Clearinghouse/Helpline/Resource Coordination
This is the highest priority for implementation. A data-driven, user maintained website and information system is the first initiative. Next is establishment of a helpline staffed with an experienced resource coordinator to provide information, referral and first level assessment to callers. Another key function of the clearinghouse staff is to coordinate nonprofit TA resources and maintain the web based information system.
- Assessment/Consultant Services/Circuit Rider
The development of an assessment toolkit, that can be self-administered and evaluated with consultant assistance, is a high service delivery priority. The creation of a pooled Technical Assistance Fund would provide a critical resource for nonprofits to conduct assessments and engage in deeper capacity building work. This is especially critical for small, rural nonprofits that are generally without the assets needed to engage consultant/coaching assistance. The region’s small consultant base is also in need of adequate support and resource funding if the nonprofit sector is to retain a qualified pool of expertise to provide technical assistance.
Training is key for nonprofit staffs to gain the skills and knowledge needed to manage organizations and develop and deliver professional programs. This report recommends the immediate development of a series of training workshops for nonprofits, focusing, at minimum, on the four priority needs of Fundraising, Marketing, Visioning/Strategic Planning, Financial Management and Board Development. The core curriculum, whether purchased or developed, needs to be closely coordinated with materials used as web-based clearinghouse tools. Training must be provided throughout the region, optimizing existing resources. A “train the trainers” approach is highly recommended.
- Peer Networks
Peer Networks are an excellent example of leveraging existing resources in a very cost effective approach. Peer networks (informal to formal gatherings of nonprofit professionals) provide an arena for information/resource sharing, training, networking and peer support. Three models are offered with a recommendation for the Sponsoring Group to explore the best fit for southern Oregon.
- Technology Technical Assistance
There is a demonstrated need to improve the capacity of Southern Oregon nonprofits to utilize technology. Contained in the report are recommendations for provision of information and referral, assessment, support and training specifically oriented to the technology needs of nonprofits.
Sponsoring Group/Coordinating Committee
Throughout this project, the consultants have met, and interacted, with an extensive “advisory group” comprised of Foundation representatives, consultants, nonprofit leadership, and training and technical assistance providers. This group has been an invaluable touchstone to the needs and realities of the nonprofit sector. At an advisory group meeting held in September 2002, it was recommended, and we strongly agree, that a “Sponsoring Group” or coordinating committee be formed to ensure the further development and active implementation of recommendations embodied in this report. Following wide distribution of this report, the project consultants will assemble a group of interested parties, that includes the original advisory body, but also additional nonprofit leaders and service providers, to facilitate the development of a Sponsoring Group for the purpose of turning recommendations into action.
The role of the Sponsoring Group would be to identify champions for each recommendation, prioritize projects, identify and secure implementation funding, and spearhead the realization of capacity building and management support services for nonprofit organizations serving Southern Oregon.
Funding strategies will be developed as a result of the prioritization of initiatives outlined in this document by the Sponsoring Group. Members of the Sponsoring Group include foundations that may elect to fund specific programs/services. Identification of funding by other foundations is also advised. Collaborative projects are suggested to leverage resources and funding. Other funding mechanisms include delivery of training through existing college fee structures. If it is decided to develop an independent 501(c)(3), membership may be explored. Fee for service, at least as a match by recipient organizations, is highly recommended.
Mission / Values
During a meeting of the Capacity Building Project Advisory Group held in September 2002, participants expressed a strong interest in developing a statement of purpose and guiding principles. The purpose of these statements is to provide a foundation for the development of nonprofit capacity building services and to guide any recommendations for the delivery of those services. A small working group developed the following Mission and Values Statements to provide a framework for the recommendations to follow. This report recommends the creation of a Sponsoring Group to advocate for the implementation of any, or all, of the proposals embodied here. A first step of the Sponsoring Group will likely be to review, deliberate and reach consensus on a Mission Statement to clearly and succinctly describe purpose and a Values Statement to guide the ensuing work. For purposes of this report, we offer the following:
Mission Statement: The mission of the Southern Oregon Nonprofit Capacity Building Project is to identify pressing needs, coordinate resources, and facilitate services to increase the ability of the nonprofit sector in our region to deliver on their missions.
Nonprofits provide a crucial role in our society by serving as agents to promote positive social change, encourage community involvement, and provide a safety net for those most in need. The Capacity Building Project exists to:
- Provide leadership to promote the development and delivery of services and resources that help build strong and effective nonprofit organizations capable of fulfilling their missions,
- Identify resources that are locally and regionally based,
- Leverage, encourage collaboration, and provide coordination among existing resources,
- Seek cost-effective strategies that are responsive, affordable, appropriate, and easily accessible throughout the region,
- Support the growth of an effective nonprofit sector essential to healthy communities by developing services that promote the vision, skills, systems and leadership needed by the next generation of non-profits in the region.
Phase 3 Implementation Plan: Service Delivery Recommendations
- Clearinghouse/Helpline/Resource Coordination:
Based on the criteria of need, cost effectiveness and the capacity to provide services throughout the region, the development of a nonprofit clearinghouse and resource coordinating function is ranked as the first priority for implementation. Members of Southern Oregon’s nonprofit sector consistently indicated a strong need for a “full service” clearinghouse –a central place to go for resources including information on frequently asked questions, internet resources and links, training opportunities, consultants who can provide in-depth technical assistance (TA), funding resources, and other practical management information.
Consultants and funders consistently named the lack of a cohesive, central clearinghouse where nonprofit management could turn for advice and information as a barrier to nonprofit health. Providers also discussed their role (by default) of fielding inquiries from nonprofits searching for assistance.
Current TA resources have limited capacity to provide for the cataloging of available resources and coordinated information dissemination. Pacific Nonprofit Network (PNN/SOU Extended Campus) and the Technical Assistance for Community Services (TACS) both provide information and referral as part of their formalized services over the phone on a part-time basis, at no charge to the recipient. PNN provides this service through its office at the Education and Resource Center in Medford. However, funding is limited for this function restricting PNN’s ability to provide comprehensive services. It provides information and referral to about 10 clients per week. TACS does have more resources devoted to this function than PNN, but is still able to offer only a part-time helpline for the entire state. Because TACS is based in Portland, it has limited familiarity with resources in Southern Oregon. Likewise, nonprofits in our region are often not aware of its services or chose not to access a Portland based provider. The clearinghouse function is the essential coordinating component of the entire Southern Oregon Nonprofit Capacity Building Project. Due to the current economic environment, we recommend rapid implementation of the clearinghouse/resource service with emphasis on use of technology, cost effectiveness and leveraging of existing resources.
Clearinghouse Service Recommendations
A. Web based information system
The first priority for implementation is the development of a comprehensive, web-based, database-driven resource information system for Southern Oregon nonprofits. To support the diverse geographic region and makeup of nonprofits, the web system must have the capacity to be managed and updated centrally and regionally by non-technical staff/volunteers/providers. This approach supports the project goal of a practical and innovative solution for provision of comprehensive management and technical assistance to nonprofits on a 24/7 basis across the region.
Recommended functions of the web based information system include but are not limited to the following:
- Directory of regional nonprofit organizations that can be updated by the nonprofits themselves online.
- List of current training opportunities throughout the region (state) that can be sorted by location, topic etc. A further goal would be to manage registration through the website.
- Directory of consultants and trainers by focus area and location. Include a mechanism for consultants to update their own information.
- Job board for employment opportunities in the nonprofit sector.
- Nuts and bolts information and resources on key TA areas such as: board development, financial management, technology, planning, staff/volunteer management, funding etc.
- Links to other pertinent websites.
- Electronic newsletter.
- Listserve for nonprofits to share information.
Research was done to identify systems that would support delivery of these objectives. It is recommended that a data driven, user managed website be created to serve the information and referral needs specifically tailored to Southern Oregon nonprofits. It would be preferable to utilize a web based management tool that supports affiliate sites and a central hub. For instance, an affiliate site in Klamath Falls or Coos Bay could enter information relevant to their area that could be consolidated into regional or even statewide databases. This would be very helpful in maintaining a comprehensive calendar and information on available training. It could be possible for affiliates to manage registration for their own events through the system as well. The proposed web based system would have the capacity to manage a wide range of information crucial for relevant, timely and responsive TA services without programming support.
Currently, TACS is developing a new website with the goals of managing (through TACS) a centralized calendar, a technology consultant directory and registration for TACS’s training (www.tacs.org). Another group, NetCorps, has developed a Web Management System (WMS) that supports the type of data-driven, user managed, affiliate web presence presented here (www.netcorps.org). TACS’s new website is scheduled to go live in the next two months. For an example of use by a nonprofit management support organization that demonstrates the capacity of the WMS approach, please see: www.compasspoint.org. More information on these approaches may be found in the TACS and NetCorps proposals (Appendix A and B).
B. Development of nuts and bolts resource information
As indicated earlier, there is a need for clear, consistently formatted information on key nonprofit management areas. This includes such things as assessments (board, general, technology, etc), board – governance, planning, financial management, fundraising, human resources and other areas. Please refer to section 2 for specifics on development of assessment tools.
This material needs to be made available to nonprofits primarily via the Internet, but also in hard copy if Internet access is not available. This nuts and bolts information could be purchased through existing sources (or permission sought to use such materials), or could be developed by an independent contractor under supervision by the Sponsoring Group. Content development would be facilitated with grant funding for research, production and/or acquisition of information sets on prioritized nonprofit management areas. It is important that the materials be appropriate, practical and formatted in a way that regional nonprofits can easily access and use these tools.
A conscious link should be made in development of these materials with training curriculum development. The “how to” tools could be the foundation for training, participant manuals and for training of trainers.
Careful consideration would need to be made as to the size and to the ability of organizations to use the materials. Currently TACS is exploring compiling its manual resources and porting it to their website. NetCorps and other technology assistance groups have made available valuable information, tools and resources as well. Coordination with regional TA providers and links to relevant websites must be included in this phase of the clearinghouse project.
C. Funding Library
PNN maintains a funding library for nonprofits looking for grant opportunities. Information is provided both through books and on computer CDs. Usually, clients need help accessing this information. Oregon Institute of Technology in Klamath Falls also has a funding library. Two alternatives to the PNN resource would be to provide the information via the web (with clearinghouse support) and to place the physical resources into the public library system. An ongoing source of financial support will be needed to update and enhance library resources.
D. Helpline/Triage Service
Consultants and funders frequently field inquiries from local nonprofits. A typical call might start with the stated need for help in raising funds and end 30 minutes to an hour later with a more extensive list of technical assistance needs, including help with clarity of purpose and goal setting, board development work to better understand roles and responsibilities, or even organizational restructuring. Assistance by providers is often made available on an ad hoc, or as available, basis at significant cost in time and materials.
It is recommended that a comprehensive “helpline” service be provided. This service goes beyond the web-based information network. The service includes a human interface or “intake counselor” well versed in regional resources and issues. The service would be available through an “800” telephone number as well as email. This first level assessment by a “Resource Coordinator” would facilitate the identification of pressing needs, understanding of options, and navigation to available resources and tools. Knowledge of area resources and consultants would be critical in making referrals.
Resources quickly become dated or obsolete and require regular attention to maintain relevance and stay current. Besides providing helpline services, the Resource Coordinator would also be responsible for managing, maintaining, and providing access to critical databases. Most of these resources would be provided to clients via the Internet or email, but could be provided manually if the nonprofit did not have access to the Internet. The clearinghouse Resource Coordinator would need to manage and publicize (at least through the website) training activities, network meetings and other events. The Resource Coordinator could also manage on-line registration.
The Resource Coordinator would need to be well qualified in operation and management of small to medium sized nonprofit organizations. Consulting and or previous information/referral experience would be helpful. Key competencies include:
- Client focus
- Good networking skills
- Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
- Ability to work independently with good follow through
- Competent computer user – database experience helpful
- Well organized – ability to manage multiple agendas and client requests
Clearinghouse service delivery options:
One approach is to integrate the comprehensive, web-based and staffed clearinghouse function into an existing organization or service center such as the Educational Resource Center, Rogue Community College, Small Business Development Center or existing local 501(c)(3).
Another approach is to work with TACS or NetCorps in development of a satellite office. In the case of TACS the satellite would be an extension of TACS’ existing clearinghouse in Portland with a focus on the needs of Southern Oregon nonprofits. NetCorps would have the capacity to provide the technical infrastructure for the web based system plus coordination between technology and management services.
Although PNN/SOU is currently providing some of these services, their focus is primarily on education and training, and they do not believe they are appropriate for the delivery of helpline/triage services. It is recommended that another service delivery model be explored and developed to meet the clearinghouse needs.
A key question is around the need for a physical “storefront”. It is reasonable that the resource coordinator could provide services via electronic media (a virtual presence) and would not maintain a “drop-in” facility. This would reduce the need for staff and a central office – at least for the first year. Both TACS and PNN report very minimal “walk-in” clientele.
An option is to contract out the development functions (and possibly the helpline as well) using an existing 501(c)(3) as a fiscal sponsor.
For any of these options, a Sponsoring Group that has clear mission, vision, values and business/strategic imperatives /priorities is extremely important.
Clearinghouse projected costs
TACS reports that its clearinghouse function with a part-time coordinator costs approximately $40,000 per year and is primarily supported through other TACS revenues. This amount will most likely increase as TACS is restructuring its information and referral service to increase its capacity. The TACS clearinghouse answers approximately 2500 inquiries annually. Funding and sustainability of funding for this function will need further exploration. The concept of membership or usage fees has been put forward, however, more research would need to be done to determine if a clearinghouse service could be self-supporting – and at what level.
Assessment / Consultant Services:
Many nonprofit leaders are aware that they do not have efficient management systems, sound decision-making mechanisms, strong leadership and many other ingredients crucial to the running of a successful nonprofit. However, they often lack a clear understanding of just what is malfunctioning and what their options are for improvement. The Phase 2 Gap Analysis documented the need to provide leaders of nonprofits with objective assessment tools and a systematic assessment process that will help them maximize opportunities to become successful, high performing organizations.
The Project also identified a need to make assessment tools and processes affordable to a wide range of nonprofits. While some foundations do currently provide technical assistance funds to a limited number of organizations, foundation leaders also expressed concern about a lack of sound tools to help them measure the effectiveness of their TA dollars. Research has shown that consultation and coaching are effective and powerful agents in organizational change efforts. Our findings indicate that organizational development work, with consultant assistance, is frequently underfunded causing frustration with the “un” finished product and/or a situation where consultants provide additional in-kind hours at great expense to their own business plans. All too often, a lack of resources limits a nonprofits’ ability to engage support services that could lead to improved organizational operations and health.
- Develop / Purchase an assessment tool kit. The recommendation is to make available a user-friendly set of tools that can be self-administered to collect data. The results would be analyzed and next step recommendations developed by nonprofit management consultants. These tools would provide nonprofit managers and leaders with the ability to initiate assessment processes by gathering both objective and subjective information on critical management issues. The tool kit would contain a comprehensive instrument, as well as individual tools to assess specific areas. The complete set should include, at minimum, tools to assess the following areas:
- Organizational assessment – comprehensive instrument
- Board governance
- Human resources
- Financial systems
- Fund development
- Create a Technical Assistance Fund using pooled resources from several sources and administered by the Sponsoring Group. The TA Fund would provide applicant organizations with resources to hire a consultant for organizational assessments and capacity building services. The Fund could also be accessed for training needs. The Social Venture Partnership model should be researched further as one possible vehicle for bringing funders with similar priorities and interests together for the purpose of creating a pooled TA Fund.
a. We recommend the proposed assessment tools be used in combination with consultant interviews and expert analysis of assessment results for optimum diagnostic capability. Technical Assistance Funds would be made available to engage consultants for evaluation of assessment results and next step recommendations. The toolkit and TA Fund, in combination, would provide funders and users with a consistent assessment process having clear outcomes. Implementation of this recommendation would set the stage for further, in-depth work with consultants that is designed to create change and positively impact organizational capability.
b. The creation of a standardized Technical Assistance Fund application form and consultant/client evaluations would streamline and systematize this process for both funders and applicants. The application would be submitted by a nonprofit organization, along with the proposed consultant, requesting funds to support organizational development work based on recommendations derived from the assessment process. A TA Fund application that requests anticipated outcomes and evaluation criteria would allow progress to be tracked by consultants, clients and funders. Requiring Consultant/ Client evaluations would assist in understanding outcomes and assessing the cost-effectiveness of investments made in consultant services.
c. We also recommend the development of standards for contracted work that is paid for with TA Funds. These standards might address criteria such as: specific items to be included in Strategic, Technology, and/or Fund Development plans, and basic elements of Board roles and responsibilities for inclusion in Board Development work. “Certification” of consultants requires further research and discussion. The model provided by TACS’ certification of technology consultants involves an interview, a work sample (not always applicable in organization development), and three references. Consultants that are not “certified” may still be listed on the TACS database, but without an indicator that they have been certified according to TACS criteria.
An earlier recommendation detailed the development of a Resource Directory that would make names and areas of expertise on the widest range of regional consultants possible available. By including recent client information and contacts for referral, potential clients have the opportunity to research and interview to find the best fit with their organization and needs. The standardization of data contained in this database will provide nonprofits with pertinent, comprehensive information and facilitate wise selections. Guidelines on how to select and work with consultants will further educate consumers and ease the relationship.
d. Further clarification regarding the Role of the Consultant would optimize Technical Assistance Funds. A significant challenge for consultants in Southern Oregon, and other rural areas, is the need for consultants to be generalists, rather than specialists. They often offer a wider array of services because the client pool is more limited in number and more diverse in need and geographic distribution, much like the circuit riders of old, who might be found serving as preacher, health care provider and news delivery person.
e. These same characteristics point to a need to provide more support to nonprofit consultants serving the region. They are an invaluable resource, facing many challenges, which could adversely impact the retention of qualified consultants. Consultants serving rural populations with predominately small nonprofits talked about the difficulties in receiving compensation adequate for covering overhead and client cultivation costs, the large percent of in-kind services they provide in order to achieve results on limited budgets, the number of clients needed to make a sound business case, and the distances they need to travel, often with no, or minimal, reimbursement. A TA Fund providing adequate compensation for services would be a tremendous support for the consultant network.
Professional training for consultants offered locally, or underwriting to attend training outside the region, would ultimately extend benefits to a host of nonprofit organizations. Agreement on the development and adherence to consulting standards and practices would likewise benefit consultants and nonprofits alike. Use of the TA Fund to establish a retainer agreement(s) with a consultant(s) to provide assessment, consultation and coaching should be explored.
f. Support the development of a Circuit Rider approach. Back in the “Old West” circuit rider preachers, doctors, teachers, and judges went from town to town on horseback helping to bring services and “civilization” to the new frontier. The circuit rider concept, as it applies to this project, refers to someone who would travel throughout the region to provide technical assistance to the nonprofit sector. There are many existing models for the circuit rider approach in the nonprofit sector, although preliminary research indicates that the majority of them currently focus on the delivery of technology-related technical assistance. For example, one model offers a set annual fee on a sliding scale basis, in exchange for an experienced circuit rider three hours per week for ten weeks. Participants can select from a menu of issues the rider can assist with. In another model, circuit riders contract for specific work (based on assessment evaluations) and provide this work over a series of regularly scheduled visits, over an extended period of time. The rider works with several clients on his/her circuit during this same time frame, distributing the costs of travel across many groups.
Service Delivery Recommendations:
- Create a task group as part of the Sponsoring Group whose focus is the development of assessment/consultant services. A contract would be issued to conduct research on purchase/lease agreements for existing toolkits with options reviewed by the task force. If existing toolkits are not considered cost-effective or appropriate for regional needs, a contract for the development of a new toolkit could be issued.
- An application and evaluation process and forms for the initial assessment analysis and more in-depth consultation would also be developed, with contractual assistance to facilitate the process and produce written materials. Materials would include minimum standards for inclusion in specific contractual work (e.g.; strategic planning, technology planning, board development, etc.), handouts on how to select, work with, and evaluate consultants, and criteria for consultant “certification”, if desired.
- Sponsoring Group members would work, in collaboration with the Southern Oregon Grant Makers Affinity Group, to create a pooled Technical Assistance Fund to support contracted assessments and more in-depth consultation/coaching to follow-up on assessment recommendations.
- This project recommends further study, and incorporation where practical and cost-effective, of circuit riders and consultant retainer agreements into proposed service delivery recommendations. Because of the extensive geographic area that Southern Oregon encompasses, circuit riders with experience in a wide array of nonprofit issue areas, can prove an effective means of addressing several of the needs identified – affordable, accessible, and responsive to individual organizational needs.
Technical Assistance Fund Projected Costs: (All cost estimates provided are ballpark figures that need additional research and calculation based on contracted work plans and deliverables.)
- Development of Assessment Tool Kits: Research availability and costs to purchase the rights to use existing toolkits: $500 – 1500 each. Develop toolkits: $1000 – 3000 each.
- Standardize TA Fund Application & Evaluation processes: $1500 – 2500.
- Technical Assistance Fund: A Technical Assistance fund that can provide annual grants totaling no less than $100,000 is proposed. For example, this sum would facilitate approximately 100 assessments at an average cost of $1000 per assessment. A $3,000,000 endowment fund would spin off $100,000 annually at current interest rates.
- Consultant Retainer agreements: Conversations with nonprofit consultants in the region indicate that, while assessments can be conducted at a cost of $500 – $1500 (depending on the extent of the operations assessed and assuming use of consultant’s own assessment tools), organizational change to increase capacity and improve performance comes at a significantly higher cost. Development of a TA Fund that provides sufficient funding is key.
Delivery of affordable, accessible, appropriate and timely training and development support for nonprofits is a critical goal for building the capacity of nonprofits in Southern Oregon. Although some training has been provided by SOU/PNN and TACS, the content, frequency and geographic availability of the training offered falls far short of what is necessary to meet the broad needs of area nonprofits.
Currently SOU/PNN provides a 1-4 day Grantwriting course twice a year in Ashland and/or Medford. It is also offered semi-annually by Southwestern Community College Small Business Development Center in North Bend and Brookings. The costs range from $70-85 per day. SOU/PNN offers occasional training through the SOU Extended Campus program in topics such as Endowment Building. SOU also offers an upper level nonprofit management class through its Masters in Management program.
SOU/PNN has also hosted the annual Director/Foundation Day Conference for the past several years and has expressed interest in continuing this service. The past three years a volunteer, conference-coordinating committee was instrumental in creating a second track of workshops on issues relevant to nonprofits. These workshops have met with success and requests for additional, in-depth training to be provided not only at the conference, but across the region. The past two years the conference coordinating committee also developed an Education Day training series, using all volunteers. Education day fees were $75 for 6 hours.
TACS has provided classes in the Medford area (usually 1 per year) on subjects such as financial management. These classes are subsidized by US Bank making it possible to reduce the participant cost to $40 per day. In the Portland area, TACS provides a wide range of class offerings at between $110 and $135 per day. TACS also provides abbreviated trainings through its peer networks in Portland, Bend and Salem.
Rogue Community College (RCC) provides a variety of training through its credit, community education and business development departments. This training tends to be general and not specifically oriented toward nonprofit management.
Rural Development Initiatives (RDI) provides a range of training and technical assistance services to assist communities in producing strategic plans, create organizational structures for successful project implementation, enhance collaborative community leadership, and apply best practice tools for community revitalization. RDI’s Rural Futures Forum offers a series of 2 day sessions, each costing $75 for the 2 days (including meals), on a variety of topics, including: convening and facilitating groups, negotiating group decisions, and championing action.
At the time this report was finalized, two additional nonprofit training opportunities surfaced. The first is a cooperative project between RCC and Community Works to provide training to front line service providers in social and human services. A second initiative called the SOU Center for Nonprofit Leadership and Education is being explored through the business department. It is based on a model developed by American Humanics to create a multi-disciplinary undergraduate certificate in nonprofit management.
To bridge the substantial gap between needs (such as those identified in the Phase 1 survey), and existing resources, several actions supportive of quality training need to be taken. These include: clear assessment of specific needs, a training plan, development of relevant curriculum (which is outcome based), strategy for delivery of training and coordination of existing training resources.
- Create a task group as part of the Sponsoring Group whose focus it to create a vision and roadmap for comprehensive nonprofit training that meets the project goals of appropriateness, availability, accessibility and affordability. The training task group needs to include both “clients” and training providers.
- In accordance with the training task group, develop a series of nonprofit-oriented training workshops, including the four priority needs identified in the survey– Fundraising, Marketing, Visioning/Strategic Planning, Financial Management and Board Development. Additional areas may include, but are not limited to human resource management, a wide range of technology-related subjects, and others. (It is recommended that a contractor be hired to implement this project.)
Training development tasks:
a. Research the availability and cost of existing curriculum for these workshops. All training must meet quality standards and must be based on sound instructional technology. This includes training designs with clear objectives and outcomes, experiential learning methods and evaluation tools.
b. Coordinate the development of curriculum and training materials that link with the web-based, clearinghouse tools. In addition to consistency with clearinghouse information and assessment tools, the clearinghouse could provide a calendar of regional training, marketing of events and even web based registration.
c. During the training design and development phase, plan for the option of expanding the curriculum to include a “train the trainers” component. This approach would greatly increase course offerings by training trainers in various communities throughout the region.
d. Research training delivery options with emphasis on developing training delivery systems that leverage the infrastructure of existing institutions and training organizations, such as the state’s small business development centers, the community college networks, SOU/PNN, TACS, RDI, private training providers and others.
a. Develop a comprehensive, year-long schedule of reproducible and sustainable courses that would be offered in several locations throughout the region. Emphasis would be on delivery by local trainers (however traveling trainers could be used if needed) who would train using common curriculum.
b. At minimum, workshops on each of the four major topics above should be held in Medford, Coos Bay, Klamath Falls, and Roseburg.
Other Training Recommendations:
In order to address the need for training to be responsive to individual nonprofit situations and needs, as well as to address the desire for lasting organizational change, we propose an innovative approach to nonprofit capacity building training. This recommendation follows the Small Business Development Center “Small Business Management Program” model that offers a one, two or three year training program. A series of training opportunities are provided over the course of the year (8-10 offerings), coupled with a monthly, on-site visit offering one-on-one consultation around that month’s topic. This program is unique in that the instructor spends time with the owner, at the owner’s place of business, as well as in the classroom. In this way, instruction is not merely theoretical, but practical and usable – tailored to each business’s individual needs.
In a nonprofit model, organization leadership would sign-up for a package that includes a commitment to attend monthly classroom sessions, hands-on tools and assignments between sessions to integrate training with organizational operations, and monthly visits for consultation/ coaching to provide personalized technical assistance and assist with practical applications. This model also facilitates an exchange of ideas and experiences from peers in the nonprofit sector.
Both Southwest Oregon Community College and the RCC Small Business Management Program offer this program. RCC’s current tuition fee is $420 per business per year. While there is no obligation to enroll for a second year, two and three-year options can be provided. Subsequent year programs developed for nonprofits would enable work with staff that are more experienced and have interest in honing systems, developing new skills, and creating systemic organizational change. The community colleges are reimbursed by the state based on FTE rates, which, in effect, subsidize the costs of producing this program. The same enrollment and reimbursement system could be used to develop an extensive, affordable program geared for nonprofits.
4. Peer Networks
The leveraging of resources is a valuable skill that nonprofits have developed throughout the sector. However, this ability has not been widely applied to building management capacity of nonprofits in Southern Oregon. Survey respondents mentioned the benefits to be gained from using their own peers as resources, yet except for the Rogue Valley Development Professionals no other peer networks in Southern Oregon were identified. Two other (out of area) networks were named, the Willamette Valley Development Professionals and the Emerald Valley Development professionals.
TACS has successfully developed four peer networks in the Portland area that have attracted wide participation and proven their usefulness for exchanging information and resources, and for sharing challenges and successes. As part of its statewide expansion program, TACS is developing Executive Director peer networks in Bend and Eugene.
The broad geographic boundaries of this region present challenges in creating peer networks that can meet face-to-face, but technology offers new opportunities to connect and share valuable information and resources. Again the web-based system can support interaction and sharing through a diverse nonprofit environment and geographic area.
Currently, perhaps due to time and economic pressures, peer networks are gaining interest with growing participation.
Development and expansion of peer networks is highly recommended. It is a highly effective, easily implemented, cost efficient initiative that has many immediate benefits.
Service Delivery Options
For the purpose of the implementation plan, three models for peer networks have been explored.
- Rogue Valley Development Professionals. The Rogue Valley Development Professionals is a group of nonprofit professionals who meet bi-monthly to share information and explore options for building resources to support area nonprofits. This provides an opportunity to network and build awareness of opportunities and challenges, to coordinate fundraising efforts and to leverage the brain trust of the individuals. It also encourages collaboration rather than competition for funding and builds synergistic and supportive collegial relationships.
The RVDP is an all-volunteer effort. The group meets every two months, usually at the Medford chapter of the American Red Cross building. Currently, Dee Anne Everson, Executive Director of the Jackson County United Way, serves as the communication hub, notifying “members” of upcoming events and other pertinent information via email. The group itself determines the subjects to be focused on for each session and a resource person is identified to do a presentation on the subject.
There is no charge to participate as a “member” of RVDP. The cost benefit ratio of the RVDP model is extremely high. This model could be used to create an Executive Director’s, Financial Managers and/ or Technology network(s).
- Technical Assistance for Community Services (TACS) peer networks. TACS has effectively built and maintained a number of peer group networks. Networks have been launched in Portland, Bend and Salem. The Portland networks include ones for Executive Directors, Financial Managers, Technology and Diversity. The focus in Salem and Bend is on Executive Directors. The Network model was created to provide training and support around issues critical to nonprofits. Network meetings are held monthly or bimonthly for 1½ hours and include time for formal presentations, as well as interactive discussion and networking. Topics for each Network series are identified by surveying existing Network members and through a broader mailing to local nonprofits. Announcement cards are sent out a month prior to each meeting. These announcement cards offer more specific information about the topics and speakers. Local speakers and long-time TACS presenters are invited to facilitate the training on a volunteer basis.
Once the series is developed, individuals are invited to become Network members. Members receive a discounted rate for the whole series, a guest pass for one meeting and a book of coupons, that allows express entry into the meeting. Nonmembers are always welcome to come and pay at the door, but do not receive the membership benefits. The Portland networks are self-sustaining. The cost of a member coupon book (12 coupons which can be used by various individuals + one session guest pass) is $135.00. Single tickets (pre-registered) are $16.00 and $18.00 at the door. A continental breakfast with coffee, tea and water is provided. TACS is able to sustain its networks based on the above charges, plus provide some general funding for TACS operations and programs. Please See Appendix A for more information on the TACS proposal.
- Opportunity Knocks. Another program model offered through the community college system that could be adapted for great benefit to the nonprofit sector, is the Opportunity Knocks This is primarily a volunteer-based, peer-networking model, requiring little college staff time. Opportunity Knocks (OK) for nonprofits would operate on the premise that nonprofit managers can benefit greatly from the combined experience of other nonprofit managers. It would bring together 13 committed members with 2 trained facilitators in a confidential setting, with a tested format for monthly meetings. Common challenges would be raised and peer counseling tapped in meetings focused on problem solving. The community colleges are able to offer this program at a minimal cost ($99 per year) by developing a cadre of trained, volunteer facilitators.
Service Delivery Recommendations:
All three service delivery options have benefits to be considered. The recommendation is for the Sponsoring Group to work with TACS, the RVDP, Opportunity Knocks and nonprofits to determine the approach that will best support sharing of peer resources in Southern Oregon. It is, however, strongly recommended that the effort link directly with the clearinghouse and web information system as well as with nonprofit training.
5. Delivery of Technology Technical Assistance
Throughout Southern Oregon Nonprofit Capacity Building Project, the area of technology TA has been focused on separately because it requires a related, but specific, skill set and resource base to implement. It does not lessen the importance of technology support. It has become increasingly evident that for nonprofits to effectively serve clients, to leverage resources, and to be sustainable service providers, the use of technology is crucial.
Currently there is a large gap in this area in that nonprofits depend on volunteers, vendors, or in some cases in-house staff, to make technology choices and to purchase and implement systems. This process is often frustrating and costly.
During the study phase of the project, clear areas of need for training and consultation were identified. Few of the survey respondents have developed technology plans, or budget annually for technology. Barriers to use of technology included 1) lack of funds 2) lack of training 3) not enough time 4) outdated or incompatible equipment 5) do not have access to technical expertise 6) don’t know what to do.
Other issues included not trusting vendors to “sell” them what is really needed and finding vendors who understand the use of technology that is appropriate for nonprofit management.
Technology Clearinghouse and Triage Services
It is highly recommended that a technology clearinghouse function be created that parallels the management clearinghouse function. Cross referrals would be made meaning that the general helpline person would refer technical questions to the technology person and management questions would be referred to the general helpline person. The same, or linked, web-based information system should be utilized. The service would provide information and support for use of technology specifically geared and appropriate for nonprofit operations. Support would be given via email or telephone in the area of general trouble shooting, purchasing advice, information on local vendors and consultants and navigation to web-based solutions. The website would provide access to affordable software sources and nonprofit technology websites, local vendor resources, software solutions and a general knowledge base of practical technology solutions for nonprofits.
Technology Assessment and Consultation
Technology assessment and planning is key to development of well functioning and appropriate technology. The result of good planning is systems that fit the needs and operation of the organization, users that are trained and money that is well spent. It provides the basis for a technology budget and related funding acquisition. There are a number of tech assessment tools available to nonprofits. The assessment process can be done by the nonprofit, the technology TA staff or by a referred consultant. The cost would range from free (self assessment) to a fee based on the consulting hours needed to complete a more in-depth assessment and report.
Consultation and on-site technical services would support assessment/planning, acquisition, troubleshooting, implementation and training. These cover a wide range of areas from simple networks to server-based networks, software or operating systems, backup options, some hardware refurbishment and upgrading, database development and website development/maintenance. This would be done on a fee for service basis by the staff, contractors or referred consultants/vendors. The fee could be based on a sliding scale and services could be subsidized through a TA Fund or other sources.
There is a need for training in several technical areas. Some of these are general and could be provided through existing training providers. For example, Rogue Community College provides training in Microsoft Office products for various skill levels.
A second type of training is needed that is geared specifically to the function of nonprofits. This includes fundraising software, nonprofit accounting, databases relevant to nonprofit operations, marketing and websites for service-based organizations. The concept of training followed by coaching is recommended for technology capacity building.
Service Delivery Recommendations:
The recommended delivery option for the coordination and delivery of clearinghouse/triage and support services in the area of technology is provided in the attached proposal by NetCorps. See Appendix B.
TACS is providing a wide range of technology assistance, consultation and training in the northern part of the state. These training resources, if appropriate, could be accessed to provide training in Southern Oregon. Community Colleges and SOU can provide general computer training.
Currently, collaboration is occurring amongst a number of technology TA providers that could be very beneficial in bringing technology resources to the region.
Conclusions and Primary Recommendations
If the nonprofit sector in Southern Oregon is to meet the challenges facing them, additional management support services that are affordable, appropriate and responsive, must be developed and delivered. Foremost among the many recommendations contained in this report are the following:
- Develop a data-driven, user maintained website and information system.
- Create a helpline staffed with an experienced resource coordinator to provide information, referral and first level assessment.
- Develop an assessment toolkit that can be self-administered and analyzed with consultant assistance for capacity building recommendations.
- Create a Technical Assistance Fund with pooled resources to support assessments and more in-depth organizational development work.
- Develop a comprehensive nonprofit training program and curriculum for delivery throughout the region, with an emphasis on using existing resources and service delivery models.
- Explore the development of additional Peer Networks by bringing current service providers together to explore the best fit for southern Oregon.
- Create a technology clearinghouse function that parallels the management clearinghouse function, making use of cross referrals and the same, or linked, web-based information system.
The Nonprofit Capacity Building Project offers the following blueprint for action:
- Convene an expanded advisory group meeting to ascertain interests and obtain commitments for Sponsoring Group participation.
- Identify funding resources for implementation of the primary recommendations.
- Establish task groups of the Sponsoring Group to champion and guide implementation of specific, priority recommendations.
TACS Proposal to the Southern Oregon Technical Assistance Project
TACS has been working closely with the Southern Oregon Technical Assistance Project to identify effective strategies for technical assistance in Southern Oregon. Upon review of the findings from the Project to date, we are recommending that the Planning Committee consider the following training model as an accessible, cost-effective first step and part of the larger plan to deliver much-needed technical assistance to nonprofits in Southern Oregon.
The peer network model was created to provide training and support around issues critical to nonprofits. Highly successful Networks have been launched in Portland, Bend and Salem. Network meetings are held monthly or bimonthly for 1½ hours and include time for formal presentations, as well as interactive discussion and networking. Topics for each Network series are identified by surveying existing Network members and through a broader mailing to local nonprofits. Local speakers and long-time TACS presenters are invited to facilitate the training.
Once the series is developed, individuals are invited to become Network members. Members receive a discounted rate for the whole series, a guest pass for one meeting and a book of coupons, that allows express entry into the meeting. Nonmembers are always welcome to come and pay at the door, but do not receive the membership benefits.
Announcement cards are sent out a month prior to each meeting. These announcement cards offer more specific information about the topics and speakers.
A continental breakfast with coffee, tea and water is provided for the cost of membership or at-door fee.
We have found through 12 years of offering this model in Portland, as well as in our new Networks in Bend and Salem, that nonprofit leaders value the information and training they receive and appreciate the opportunity to learn from each other. Our Networks have gained a strong following due to the friendly, casual and supportive atmosphere.
Statewide Activities and Organizational Capability
As part of our Statewide Initiative, TACS has developed strong relationships with local steering committees in Bend and Salem to facilitate capacity building training for local nonprofit organizations. In May 2002, TACS hosted gatherings of nonprofit leaders in Bend and Salem to identify concerns and services that would be most helpful to nonprofit leaders. Based on the feedback from these gatherings and through the leadership of local steering committees, we launched two new networks for executive directors, the Nonprofit Network of Central Oregon (NNCO) and the Mid-Valley Executive Directors Network (MVEDN). These networks meet bimonthly and monthly respectively for 1½ hours to network and receive training on nonprofit management and governance. Currently, there are 57 members of NNCO and an average of 60 members and nonmembers at each meeting, and 40 members of MVEDN, with an average of 42 members and nonmembers per meeting.
Network members and participants come from many surrounding cities. For example, the Mid-Valley Executive Directors Network draws participants from seven counties, while NNCO attracts nonprofit leaders from all over Central Oregon. TACS has utilized speakers from our Portland networks and works with the steering committees to identify local speakers.
TACS has assisted the Southern Oregon Technical Assistance Project by serving as fiscal sponsor for two of the projects grants and participating in planning sessions. In addition, we have made plans to expand access to effective consulting services by including Southern Oregon consultants into our consultant database and making it available to the Project through an easily accessible web-based system.
Founded in 1977, TACS has provided training, consultation and other resources to assist over 3,000 nonprofit organizations to build effective management, governance, planning and comprehensive funding strategies. TACS’ four professional networks – Executive Directors Network, Nonprofit Fiscal Managers Association, Diversity Leaders Network, and the Information Technology Network – connect over 400 nonprofit leaders through monthly meetings around critical issues. In addition, TACS sponsors over 20 full and half-day trainings annually, involving over 800 participants around the state.
Recommendation and Next Steps
Based on the clear need and desire of Southern Oregon nonprofits to have accessible, cost-effective ways to receive training and support, TACS recommends that a peer network training model be designed to meet the needs of local nonprofits. TACS is prepared to provide planning and administrative support to design and implement a regularly scheduled networking and training opportunity in Southern Oregon, modeled after TACS’ Professional Networks. Additional grant support would allow TACS to hire a local part-time staff person to provide onsite coordination and support to the Network. Next steps include:
- Identify and involve a steering committee of at least 10 nonprofit leaders in program planning
- Host a gathering of local nonprofit leaders to identify training priorities
- Seek sources of underwriting to make Network affordable to smaller groups and hire a local part-time coordinator
- Develop schedule of Network sessions
- Work with local steering committee to identify trainers
- Implement first year of Network, with TACS providing administrative support
- Evaluate the Network model through pre- and post-testing, key informant interviews and Network presentation feedback instruments
Additional TACS Resources
In addition to providing administrative support for a Southern Oregon peer network, TACS can provide additional resources to the Southern Oregon Technical Assistance Project through existing and developing services.
TACS Nonprofit Helpline has been offering free phone consultation to nonprofit organizations for 25 years. The Helpline is accessible through a toll-free number throughout Oregon, Washington and Alaska. We welcome calls from Southern Oregon and will work with the Southern Oregon Technical Assistance Project to build awareness of this service.
TACS is in the process of developing an information management system to capture and circulate the most up-to-date local and national resources, information and issues important to nonprofits. This valuable information could be shared through the web-based system being developed for the consultant database.
Appendix B to Southern Oregon Nonprofit Technical Assistance Project Report:
NetCorps’ Technology-related Recommendations
Part 1: Technology Technical Assistance Delivery Recommendations
We have seen that successful, sustainable delivery of assistance services requires several key items:
- Local involvement and commitment in the community
- Knowledge of how nonprofits are organized, managed, and deliver services
- Building trust in the nonprofit community
- Delivering successful, appropriate, cost effective solutions and services
NetCorps’ recommended model for delivering technology support services is to create a satellite office in the Rogue Valley. We would hire a technology staff person from the local community. That staff member would be trained by our NetCorps staff in Eugene and would provide a wide range of assessment, planning and implementation services. The Eugene staff would provide the human support services and infrastructure systems, procedures and policies. See below for other proposals that would build on this core presence/expertise.
Net Corps’ involvement to date and general approach:
NetCorps has been actively responding to the increasing technology assistance inquiries from Southern Oregon during the past 4 years. During the past two years, there has been a more focused effort to broaden our understanding of these organizations and the Southern Oregon communities. We have expanded our involvement in assisting these organizations through outreach, education, workshops, project work, conference participation, and with participation on the Southern Oregon Technical Assistance Planning Committee.
Our philosophy in providing appropriate technology assistance services has been based on the goal of getting nonprofit organizations to be as self sustaining as possible. Ideally organizations would use our information, services, and referrals to major steps forward with their technology use and knowledge, and would not become critically dependant on any particular consultant or service provider. Their staff would gain sufficient understanding of technology to make informed management decisions regarding choosing, implementing, and maintaining appropriate technology solutions. For more information on NetCorps, see our website at: www.NetCorps.org.
NetCorps’ vision of providing technology support services in Southern Oregon
NetCorps has been researching and testing models for expanding our technology services. In 2001, we successfully started a new office in Durham, North Carolina. We learned a lot from that effort and have been actively researching, planning and collaborating with other technology assistance organizations on service delivery models for Oregon.
Our current ideal vision is to establish or share an office in the Medford/Ashland area. This office would be a collaborative effort with a technical/management assistance staff person funded by the Southern Oregon Technical Assistance Project. Both individuals would help staff this support office, and provide their different skill sets to organizations via the help line and other methods.
We would hire a local nonprofit technology consultant or hire/train the best applicant to staff this position. The position would be a part time/full time funded technology generalist, with skills in computer hardware, operating systems, networking, databases, websites, and other electronic communications means. That person would have worked in a nonprofit organization for at least two years, with management or supervisory experience, in a non-technology related position. They should be a stable, long term resident of the community and Southern Oregon.
Starting focus: Their primary function in the first year would be towards building a trust relationship with the nonprofit community. This means establishing connections with the nonprofit organizations, finding and qualifying consultants and resources, building a local nonprofit database, expanding on the consultant database, staffing the help line, organizing workshops and trainings, and providing technology assessments and support services. One of the primary goals would be to educate the nonprofit organizations on the great value and importance of planning and budgeting appropriately for technology. Much of the technology related information, resources, trainings and specialized support would be provided through the NetCorps Eugene office and other expert technology consultants.
Funding: We have already submitted several grant applications to try to secure funding to expand technology assistance services into Southern Oregon and other parts of the state. We are proposing hiring a full time Technology Assistance provider, to be based in the Rogue Valley. That person would initially be a NetCorps staff person or contractor, backed up by NetCorps staff and infrastructure in Eugene. These grant applications were submitted before the Southern Oregon technical Assistance survey and reports were completed. We feel that the recommendations in the southern Oregon report fit in extremely well with our skills, knowledge, expansion plans and grant applications.
Collaboration: There could be many advantages to collaborating with a Southern Oregon Technical Assistance staff and office. NetCorps could provide the technology support systems, knowledge and tools to support the Clearinghouse website as well as the general office needs and equipment. The helpline could be shared between both technical and technology related services, also the potential for shared office equipment, space and rent costs. There would be many opportunities to share information, strategies, and reports. There would be opportunities for cross training, referrals, and generally supporting each other. One potential collaboration would be to have both staff share responsibilities of organizing the peer networks as recommended in the report.
Specific recommendations for delivering Technology Training Assistance
These 3 items are derived from the recommendations of the SOTAP report.
Technology Support Services (including training and consulting):
NetCorps’ recommended model for delivering technology support services is to create a satellite office in the Rogue Valley. We would hire a technology staff person from the local community. That staff member would be trained by our NetCorps staff in Eugene. The Eugene staff would provide the human support services and infrastructure systems, procedures and policies.
The general service area that the staff member would cover would be approximately one hour from the Medford area. This would handle the majority of the nonprofit organizations offices. When there is a need to travel farther, those trips would be handled in a scheduled, circuit rider style trip. As an example, there might be monthly trips to the Klamath area, or the South coast, or the Illinois valley to visit several organizations and reduce the travel time and costs.
To start, the staff may be working out of their home, but most likely a separate office space would be desirable. That may start out as a shared or donated space in another nonprofit or community college. Hopefully, it would be a space suitable for holding small trainings and workshops.
Ideally, the staff member would be funded through grants for the first year. This would alleviate the financial pressure to sell their services to pay their wage, and allow them to concentrate on working in the client’s best interest. It would also attract better candidates for this job.
Technology Clearinghouse and Triage Services:
From the base office/general support services mentioned above, a clearinghouse function would be established modeled after some of the existing physical resource centers that are combined with technology assistance websites. NetCorps could coordinate this effort and easily integrate this into the management clearinghouse functionality (see details on this topic below). Triage services would be handled by the local tech resource staff in conjunction with web-based resources/tools.
A key component of the support services would be provide low cost assessment and planning services that utilize the tech resource person and other existing assessment tools, for example www.techatlas.org. NetCorps has been doing technology assessments since 1996. We currently have many tools and processes to conduct general assessments as well as detailed website and database assessments. We usually try to provide general technology assessment services at subsidized, reduced rates in order to get organizations to take this first crucial step. A good assessment process will determine the next steps, predict costs for budgeting, and help formulate a more integrated strategic planning process. We recommend that a group pay something for an assessment, but have often encountered situations where a foundation has paid for the assessments for its grantees.
Part 2: Ways NetCorps could help with other Service Delivery Recommendations
Besides the specific technology technical assistance recommendations noted above, there are other ways that Netcorps can assist with some of the other major Service Delivery Recommendations. Here are specifics for one.
Clearinghouse / Helpline / Resource Coordination
Primary recommendation per report: “Providing a database driven, user maintained website and information system is the first initiative.”
It is clear that this recommendation should be met with a system capable of be scalable and robust enough to handle the needs of SOTAP – both present and future. There are many such tools available for a wide range of costs. NetCorps has already developed an online website / database solution that we find to be very cost-effective. It is called our “Web Management System” or WMS and it could become the core communication infrastructure for the Southern Oregon Capacity Building Project. It is currently in use by a many organizations, including Compass Point of San Francisco, who provides technical and technology assistance to SF Bay Area nonprofit organizations. This system can support many types of resources (both human and knowledge base), calendars, contact management, allowing key resources/consultants to update their own content/records, donor management, web page content management, integrated email tools, event and class registration, membership lists, and action alert capabilities. A key feature of this system is the ability to create new webpages, tools, databases, and input forms, using a web browser and without having to know any programming. This will allow the system and website to expand with very little additional programming expense. For example sites, tech specs and more info on our Web Management System, see our web site: http://www.netcorps.org/services/website-development/.
Using our existing tool for SOTAP: This system has been developed and refined over the past three years and can now be quickly implemented for new projects, as most of the appropriate functions for this SOTAP project have already been built and tested. There would need to be an a planning and specification process with the planning committee, or other sponsor group, to better define and prioritize the exact requirements and costs. There would be some graphic design, setup and training labor costs and ongoing hosting costs involved in implementing this website and database system. NetCorps can leverage its existing tools to get access to the highly integrated, powerful tools at below market rates. These tools would greatly enable the sorts of delivery strategies being discussed.
Resources for clearinghouse site: Much of the website information content recommended in the project report is available through other technical/technology assistance providers and can be freely copied or linked from the new website. There would need to be some researching and qualifying of the information so that only the most pertinent information to Southern Oregon is posted on the website.
Identity/domain: We would recommend that this website have its own domain name and that eventually there is a distinct 501c3 organization or a Southern Oregon sponsoring organization that owns this project. The website should be focused on creating a Southern Oregon identity and that will foster community building and networking amongst organizations. The website domain name should reflect this goal.
We look forward to continuing the dialog and collaborative planning process in order to bring the much needed services to Southern Oregon. Please contact Joe Millon, NetCorps Eugene’s Managing Director with any questions. He can be reached at: 541-465-1127, ext 100 or Joe@NetCorps.org.
Southern Oregon University’s Proposal
to the Southern Oregon Nonprofit Technical Assistance Project
Southern Oregon University (SOU) is excited about the recommendations put forward in the Southern Oregon Nonprofit Technical Assistance Project. We have continued to provide limited services to nonprofits through the Pacific Nonprofit Network located at the Education & Resource Center (ERC) since 1998, but we see the potential for more extensive coordination and expansion of services to this important sector in our community. We would very much like to participate in the Sponsoring Group and would be able to provide specific expertise as indicated below.
Expanded trainings for nonprofits is the area that the SOU is most interested in being involved in. This clearly is aligned with the University’s mission and SOU Extended Campus Programs has much expertise to provide. The School of Business is also exploring developing a nonprofit certificate for undergraduates and expanding the nonprofit track in the Master in Management program. Thus, SOU is interested in taking the lead on establishing and facilitating the Task Group that would coordinate existing trainings for nonprofits and develop new curriculum as needed.
Rogue Community College (RCC), Southwestern Community College, Technical Assistance for Community Services (TACS), local consultants, and selected nonprofit “clients” would be invited to participate. Both RCC and SOU have Small Business Development Centers that use various models for providing assistance and training to small businesses, e.g. Opportunity Knocks, Small Business Management Program, that may be expanded to focus specifically on nonprofits. We would work with NetCorps to provide needed technology training. We would also connect these trainings with a basic set of “self-help” tools that could be made available through a clearinghouse for nonprofits, when it is established. The clearinghouse function would also be used to promote the trainings as they become available.
SOU also plans to continue sponsoring the successful annual Foundation Directors’ Day and Education Conference in the Fall. We see this becoming the “jumping-off” point for more in-depth trainings throughout the year in various locations throughout the region.
Since this function is not the highest priority listed for funding at this time, we suggest approaching the development and delivery of training using a self-sustaining model; yet, we see a pressing need to establish a technical assistance fund that nonprofits could access to help pay for participation in these trainings. Development of a core curriculum could “borrow” from existing curricula that have already been developed around the country to minimize development costs. While we could start immediately on some expansion of trainings for nonprofits, some external funding would be needed for curriculum development and initial program coordination (.50 FTE) until participation in these trainings is large enough to cover these costs.
We agree that Peer Networks are a cost-efficient model of sharing information between nonprofits about specific areas. Since this is also a form of training, we are interested in providing staff support and coordination to such networks, e.g. Rogue Valley Development Professionals, and would work with TACS to establish other local networks. This would keep all trainings efforts coordinated and could possibly leverage net revenues from the more intensive trainings to support further expansion of peer networks.
Clearinghouse / Helpline / Resource Coordination:
Although many of the clearinghouse-type services are being provided by Pam Hall, through the Pacific Nonprofit Network at the Education & Resource Center (ERC), the amount of time that she is able to devote to this function is limited. While we definitely see the need to expand this area and have expertise to provide, we are currently not in a situation to expand these services at the ERC or at SOU’s Medford Campus. However, we are very interested in connecting our current services to a full-service clearinghouse, when it is established.
SOU maintains the Grantsmanship Library at the ERC and plans to continue providing this service. Rogue Community College also makes materials available through a small library that the Small Business Development Center maintains in Grants Pass and we could more closely coordinate these resources. In addition, we can certainly work with other community members to make these library resources more accessible or available online. Current funding for the Grantsmanship Library is provided by a portion of net revenues earned from the Foundation Directors’ Day Conference but could expand as training increases and becomes self-sustaining.
Assessment / Consultant Services / Circuit Rider:
SOU’s Southern Oregon Regional Services Institute (SORSI) has provided technical assistance to government entities and nonprofit agencies for many years. Its director, Rebecca Reid, produces the Oregon: A Statistical Overview every two years that summarizes statistics by county and includes Census demographics as well as Oregon benchmarks. This data is heavily used by nonprofits in strategic planning and grant proposals as well as by foundations to assist in setting their funding priorities.
Unfortunately the current budget situation has forced the University to make some difficult choices and funding from SOU for services provided through SORSI will not continue after December 2003. Thus, Rebecca Reid will only be able to continue providing services if external sources of funding are found, if nonprofits and foundations are unable to pay for her services. SORSI can provide a valuable resource to the nonprofit community as a data clearinghouse that complements other forms of technical assistance that should be considered when seeking funding for this area.
Project Implementation by: Roi Crouch – Roi Crouch and Associates (541) 488-6234 firstname.lastname@example.org Mary Ward – Human Systems, Inc. (541) 488-4086 email@example.com Funding for Phase 3 -Service Delivery Recommendations provided by: Southern Oregon University – Pacific Nonprofit Network, Cow Creek Umpqua Indian Foundation, and the Stern Family Foundation Additional project support provided by: Gordon Elwood Foundation, NetCorps, Oregon Community Foundation, Southern Oregon Telecommunications and Technology Council, Allison Zigich – Southern Oregon University Masters in Management Capstone Project, RVALLEY Computers, Educere, Inc., Technical Assistance for Community Services, Center for Excellence in Nonprofits