Nonprofits are being asked to “step up,” to answer the calls of our neighbors and cushion the impacts of government cuts. Many admonish nonprofits to “do more with less.”
But doing more with less often winds up just being…less. Organizations are spread thinner and thinner. Basic systems break down or are never put in place. Everyone is working as hard as they can, head down, focused internally.
Real solutions are likely to come from a different strategy:
- Investing in current and emerging leaders who reshape their organizations and services.
- Pulling organizations together to aggregate strengths and knowledge.
- Questioning the cost of haphazard service delivery and bureaucracy as triage.
- Focusing on the management basics so services are not built on a house of cards.
After 21 years, we have changed our name from Executive Service Corps of Washington to 501 Commons because we want to advance these solutions. We have re-shaped our place in the nonprofit ecosystem. The service corps remains a key part of our capacity and the leverage point in our business model.
We see our organization as having several roles in this nonprofit ecosystem:
- We are the general store: We have a broad range of services for all types of organizations. We can do plan vanilla and we can do fancy—high-impact consulting by knowledgeable and experienced consultants.
- We are the matchmaker: We bring nonprofits together and gather skilled community members at the table. We ferret out common interests and fan the flames of collaboration.
- We are the virtual librarian: We help people find the information, resources, and tools they need to keep their house in order or to build better models. We now guide organizations to talented service providers who can help them transform their organizations.
Thank you to the companies, organizations, and individuals who have contributed all along the road. Your passion for our community is the fuel for our work.
Read about the launch of 501 Commons and the new Statewide Nonprofit Resource Directory on the Puget Sound Business Journal Blog at http://www.bizjournals.com/seattle/blog/2011/01/new-resource-center-for-wa-nonprofits.html and the Philanthropy Northwest Blog at http://blog.philanthropynw.org/.