ESC Client Spotlight: NewTV

 

ESC client NewTV has gone from a humble local television station in Newton, MA, to a community media center and industry game-changer over the past few years, and Executive Director Bob Kelly says ESC has played a role in the reinvention that elevated his organization.

“NewTV has become much more than a local community station,” Bob said. “Even as a nonprofit, we’re producing programs that are really far-reaching, connecting with for-profit and state entities.”

Bob made it clear NewTV’s productions aren’t working at the Wayne’s World level. They’ve moved far beyond, interacting with established production companies and cable channels on a national scale; and their accolades reflect the level of production—the organization is an Emmy-winning establishment that’s made deals with networks as big as The History Channel.

NewTV first partnered with ESC in 2010 for a Strategic Planning engagement. In addition to creating a five-year plan for the organization, the consultant team of Donna Davis and John Kogan—a Newton resident and lead for this project—facilitated NewTV’s thought process by managing a retreat held at Mount Ida College. This above-and-beyond style of work solidified Bob’s faith in ESC as a fellow nonprofit that certainly had his organization’s best interests in mind.

“ESC did a great job facilitating the strategic planning process and thinking it through,” Bob said. “It’s nice to have the caliber of ESC consultants at a rate local nonprofits can afford.”

During the course of the original ESC consulting project, NewTV leaders explored alternative revenue streams and asked themselves, “How can we compete with 900 channels?” The results of the project had such positive impact, Bob said, that the organization’s momentum combined with the constantly-changing nature of the television industry called for a rehaul of NewTV’s strategic plan after just 3 years of the original plan’s implementation.

Bob said there was no question about calling ESC back to revamp NewTV’s strategic plan in 2013, and he was thrilled to have ESC Consultant John Kogan return to lead the project.

“We called ESC back out of pure adaptability,” Bob said. “Five years happened in three—our goals and objectives for years four and five had changed.”

The comfort level of having John on NewTV’s second ESC consulting project paired with Bob’s confidence in his commitment to NewTV added to the decision that ESC must be the consulting service to reassess the strategic plan composed three years prior.

“John may come back and have a cup of coffee,” Bob said. “That’s the level of commitment he showed and continues to show to this organization.”

The latest ESC consulting project with NewTV wrapped up in February. Bob told us the recent work done by John and his ESC colleagues, Neil Golden and Les Goldstein, really got to the heart of the issues the organization faces. One of the key aspects of this consulting project was the consultants’ abilities to produce measurables for each year, and each quarter, of the next five years, and it’s left Bob and the rest of the NewTV with revived confidence in their actions.

“Bringing in ESC was the best thing we did for our future,” Bob said. “My peers—Executive Directors of Nonprofits—tend to think we can do a strategic plan on our own, and we could, but we forget about the sets of eyes that aren’t in the industry and aren’t working with our organizations every day. Someone who could see us from the outside is what we needed—someone not in the industry, not on the board of directors, and someone who is unbiased.”

If you are interested in learning how an ESC consulting project could impact your nonprofit organization, please contact our Director of Consulting, Ulea Lago, at ulago@escne.org or call 617-357-5550. ESC of New England offers a complimentary two-hour assessment visit for any local nonprofit seeking the guidance of senior-level and executive management and capacity building consultants outside of their organization.

Meet the Consultants: Gabriele Loebbert

ESC Consultant Gabriele Loebbert’s favorite experience in nonprofit consulting is bringing missions to results. She has enjoyed her experiences in expanding client reach and facilitating organizational growth as a part of her consulting project teams.

“You have to capitalize on revenue-generating opportunities,” she said. “Growth is vital to expanding an organization’s reach and ability to exceed its constituencies needs.”

Gabriele is also a shining example of how for-profit experience can translate to exceptional nonprofit consulting skills. Having worked for American Express and Thompson Reuters Product Development and Marketing, she knows there is a great deal of work to do before you can sell a service or product. She applies this knowledge to each consulting project she works on, and she’s helped numerous organizations build stronger development processes as a result.

Gabriele is especially energized by consulting projects with a Strategic Planning focus, and she emphasizes the need for Outcomes Measurement in any work she does. She noted that ESC’s team structure makes a wealth of difference in consulting projects.

“We are 140 consultants with all different experience who are here to help and inform on any project we’re called to,” she said. “There’s always someone who can be called on for specific issues and areas of need.

Gabriele has an MBA and is an active nonprofit board member in her community.

Social Media for Nonprofits: What to Aim For

“An archer cannot hit the bullseye if he doesn’t know where the target is.”
– Anonymous

It’s clear that social media helps nonprofits build relationships with a wealth of different individuals and organizations—donors, existing volunteers, potential new clients, and many more vital connections—but how can nonprofits best focus their social media efforts? ESC consultant Mike Byrnes argues that while all online communication is valuable, some strategies have more impact than others. Aim for the bullseye in nonprofit social media use: influencing more actions by donors, event attendees, and other individuals and organizations who fuel your organization’s efforts.

The outer edge of influence: Elevated Awareness
Make your organization known with regular social media posts, encouragement of engagement on all platforms, and shareable content that carries potential for organic visibility online.

Getting Warmer: More online interactions
Once engagement is a regular part of your organization’s online presence, your nonprofit’s potential for impactful interaction with social media connections is becoming more likely. Keep fostering regular engagement with followers by responding to comments on Facebook, retweeting relevant content on Twitter and participating in meaningful conversations on LinkedIn.

Heating up: Higher Search Engine Rankings
As your organization increases its conversations and overall influence online, effective SEO strategies should produce higher search engine rankings. If your nonprofit isn’t creeping up the rankings on Google through social media use alone, consider starting a blog where keywords and relevant links can be incorporated and/or evaluating the SEO strength of your NPO’s website.’

You’re doing it right: Increased web traffic
Increased web traffic on your nonprofit’s website is the most exciting and definite signal that your social media efforts are working. No other form of marketing is more closely tied to your organization’s online hub, so if you’re getting web traffic, your social media campaign has reached a milestone. This is not a time to let up! Continue social media work at the level that helped corral more web traffic, and you’ll be receiving phone calls from donor prospects and volunteer applicants in no time.

Bullseye: More actions—Donations, event attendance, etc.
Your nonprofit’s social media campaign has reached maximum impact when the organization begins to see tangible evidence of marketing success like increased gifts (through annual appeals or at the donors’ will) and event attendance. To keep tabs on exactly how much of an impact your social media efforts have had on this type of connection, be sure to ask participants if they’re connected with your organization on social media and especially if social media had an impact on their participation or donation.

If your nonprofit is interested in assistance with social media marketing, fundraising, or other aspects of nonprofit management related to social media use, please contact ESC’s Director of Consulting, Ulea Lago, at ulago@escne.org or call 617-357-5550 for information on how an ESC consulting project could take your nonprofit organization to the next level.

Hiring nonprofit employees: Creating a competency-based interviewing process

 

All nonprofits go through the employee and volunteer hiring process, but has your organization formerly focused on competency-based interviewing? Read on for an overview of how this tactic can improve the caliber and longevity of new hires in any field.

What is competency?

Competency is an underlying characteristic of an employee (for example, a motive, a trait, a skill, a body of knowledge) which results in behavior leading to effective job performance. For purposes of employee selection, competency is defined in terms of effective performance. For purposes of management development, competency is defined in terms of exceptional performance.

Competencies in Practice

Competency models are developed for specific positions. They may be custom made or adapted from previous studies.

Types of Competency Model Uses

  • Employee selection: people are selected for positions based on their competency (initial hire or promotion)
  • Employee development: competencies can be the focus of training programs
  • Performance review: employees can be evaluated based on their demonstrated competency
  •  Strategic planning: competence can also be assessed at the organizational level in strategic planning studies

Developing a Competency Model

Competency models are an extension of job analysis. The focus in job analysis is on tasks performed whereas the focus in competency modeling is on the behavior of job incumbents. There is a shift from qualifications to actual performance.

Techniques used in competency modeling studies can be focus groups, surveys, and panels of subject matter experts. There are many competency dictionaries that may be used to define specific job behaviors sought in applicants.

Jeff Berman Competency Model

 Example of a Competency Model (Photo)

Job Title: Manager

Interpersonal Skills

  •        Building positive working relationships
  •        Building trust
  •        Communication skills

Collaboration Skills

  •        Working together as a team
  •        Customer service skills
  •        Partnering with supervisor

Self-Management Skills

  •        Quality focus
  •        Adaptability
  •        Decision making
  •        Planning and organizing
  •        Continuous learning
  •        Professional knowledge/expertise

Developing a competency model for interviewing new hires and volunteers can save your organization time, funds and energy. If your nonprofit is interested in learning how ESC of New England can assist a hiring process or other management matters through a consulting engagement, contact Ulea Lago at ulago@escne.org or call 617-357-5550 today.

Performance Management: Four Components for Success

Performance Management is a year-round cycle of setting goals, and measuring and rewarding results, for each individual in an organization. There are five steps to effective performance management for nonprofits and four major components: establishing business and developmental goals at the individual level, providing ongoing coaching and feedback to maximize performance, conducting formal reviews and evaluations, and sharing awards and recognitions with employees after formal reviews. Follow these steps for maximum employee engagement and overall organizational performance.

1.) Establish business/developmental goals at the individual level

  • Set “smart” goals—goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.
  • Decsribe success and measurement from both the “what” and the “how” perspective
  • Include individual developmental goals to improve role performance and to identify specific activities or tactics

2.) Provide ongoing coaching and feedback to maximize performance

Feedback

  • When giving feedback, realize it is a gift to move employees toward success
  • Be positive and corrective—what’s going well and where is adjustment needed?
  • Focus feedback on performance, not personality
  • Feedback is owned by the giver using “I” statements; make it theirs
  • Continually check for comprehension
  • Make feedback timely so that it has maximum impact—act quickly and efficiently

Coaching

  • Take advantage of one-on-one meetings to coach employees
  • Can be combined with feedback if related
  • Opportunity to check for alignment on “where we’re going”
  • Exchange of information and ideas
  • Development discussion
  • There are three types of coaching conversations: Corrective/Feedback, Problem-Solving/Planning, and Teaching/Instructive
  • Benefits of Coaching: improved engagement, increased motivation, best for retention

3.) Conduct formal reviews and evaluations

Key components of review and evaluation:

  • Employee self-assessment
  • Feedback of key stakeholders
  • Your observations (as manager/superior/etc.): be sure to compare all results to goals set; share final assessment, evaluation and adjust if needed based on discussion with employee; and inform employee of reward, if any

4.) Share rewards and recognition

  • When it comes to reward and recognition, the definition is up to you
  • You must push past any discomfort or insecurity about offering recognition—even giving something as small as a genuine thank you.
  • Think of one time you received recognition for something you did well: What was the recognition? How did it make you feel? Use your past experience to choose the positive reinforcement you’ll show to your employee

5.) Repeat steps 1-4

A robust Performance Management Process is just one key to engagement in reversing nonprofit employee burnout. If your organization would benefit from learning hands-on tactics for retaining and recruiting top talent, an ESC consulting project may be a logical step forward.

ESC of New England offers a complimentary two-hour evaluation to all interested nonprofits—contact Ulea Lago, ESCNE Director of Consulting, for more details at ulago@escne.org or call 617-357-5550.

ESC Client Spotlight: Elizabeth Stone House

 

The Elizabeth Stone House was no stranger to ESC of New England when the organization reached out for consulting services in 2013. In fact, the catalyst for the nonprofit’s current ESC consulting project–a fundraising effort to support the construction of a large family program center–was due largely in part to the exceptional outcomes of their first engagement with ESC in 2011.

While the residential and family services-centered nonprofit has been established for 40 years, Elizabeth Stone House Director of Development Jim May told us changes over time have made its existence even more imperative to the organization’s client base.

“Our services are no longer an alternative to institutionalization—they’re an alternative to homelessness,” he said.

This shift to such services becoming “an alternative to homelessness,” called for a better understanding of the people his organization serves, Jim said, and ESC’s initial project with the Elizabeth Stone House provided a breakthrough in this regard.

Jim said the 2011 strategic planning project conducted by ESC consultants brought him and his staff to a new level of understanding in terms of their constituencies’ needs. What was revealed may have been overwhelming without the ESC team’s organizational abilities, and the services offered, he said, would have not been attainable for the nonprofit without ESC’s sliding scale pricing.

“We are a small-ish organization with big aspirations,” Jim said. “There is no way to close the gap between size and aspirations without ESC’s affordable assistance.”

A great deal of the strategic plan created in Elizabeth Stone House’s first ESC consulting engagement focused on assessment strategies that would help the organization’s staff, board, donors and volunteers better understand the individuals and families they serve. This type of work required such a high level of structure and attention over two years that it would become the largest project Jim and his staff had ever undertaken before. Jim held that such a comprehensive project relied on the management assistance and knowledge ESC consultants provided to the organization’s staff over the course of the engagement.

“The consultants created a massive list, assigning a timeline to all related tasks,” Jim said. “We didn’t have any staff who’d ever gone through such a huge project, but every staff member was able to benefit and learn how to handle new data, assessments, and the overall implementation plan.”

The Elizabeth Stone House discovered, through working with ESC, that they were in need of a modern evidence-based approach to caring for their constituencies, especially those with mental health and substance abuse issues. For instance, Jim told us, the work done by ESC consultants made possible a new mental health assessment as well as an assessment for the likelihood of relapse among drug abusers, which can be administered at regular intervals to track progress and protect their constituencies’ best interests during the times they are under the organization’s watch.

esh photo 1

A product of the ESC-led assessments, Jim said, was a deeper, more personal understanding of the individuals and families his organization serves. With this new understanding came a reinvigorated approach to a problem Elizabeth Stone House was finally ready to face: the replacement of a central building lost to a fire five years before ESC’s initial engagement.

Jim said the internal improvements ESC helped the Elizabeth Stone House make allowed the organization’s vision to be realized in its plans for the new building much more effectively than what had been offered by the previous one. One change the organization has determined is that in order to serve clients effectively the new building would need to be seven times bigger than the previous structure. Thanks to the clarity Elizabeth Stone House had acquired since implementing ESC’s strategic plan in 2011, staff members have been able to determine this and many more details about the new building’s needs; but, because the organization receives fewer tax credits for program space (verses sufficient funds received for residential services), it quickly became clear that the organization’s fundraising efforts would need to be raised to the same level ESC had elevated management to in 2011.

Jim is now working with ESC consultant John Carpenter to improve Elizabeth Stone House’s fundraising abilities. He said one goal is to increase the organization’s capability to solicit major gifts in support of the new building, and, as with the first project, his organization would be unable to reach such a high level of impact without the affordable consulting services ESC offers.

“ESC is an important resource for organizations in our community, and not nearly enough people know about it,” he said.

Whatever the challenge, Jim is convinced that connecting with ESC would garner  improvement for any nonprofit in eastern Massachusetts or Rhode Island.

The  Elizabeth Stone House’s mission is to serve homeless families and individuals in a goal-oriented, outcome-driven service environment by resolving the issues that made them homeless – domestic violence, substance abuse, and mental illness – so that they can attain and maintain permanent housing, personal safety, and economic stability. If you’d like to learn more about this organization, please visit their website, email info@elizabethstone.org or call 617-409-5417.

If you’d like your nonprofit to be featured in an upcoming ESC Client Spotlight post, please contact Ali Pickering, ESC of New England Consulting Services Coordinator, at apickering@escne.org or call 617-357-5550.

Top 10 Online Practices for Nonprofit Marketing

 

If you are a nonprofit management professional, you know that social media and online presence is vital to the success of your organization’s marketing efforts today. Mike Byrnes, an ESC Consultant and active independent social media speaker and consultant, names ten key points for managing online content, websites and social media for nonprofits.

1.) Fresh content
If you want to maintain optimal online presence for your nonprofit, you’ve got to provide followers with a steady flow of content on a day-to-day basis. Share recent industry news articles, keep up a blog, or share photos from recent events to stay in the present.

2.) Clear and easy navigation
Help viewers skip the hassle of looking for the information they want by bringing relevant content to your audience through a clear, simple interface. For example, part of any nonprofit’s audience is potential donors; it should be common sense to feature “how to contribute” on your home page, along with mission information and other hot, must-see content points.

3.) “Above the fold” real estate
Displaying the information you need to be seen “above the fold” is imperative to the success of nonprofit marketing efforts online. The phrase refers to content that’s seen on the screen without having to scroll down. If your nonprofit’s website has relevant content stretched throughout a long vertical homepage, you may want to evaluate its arrangement to be sure important text, links and photos are seen immediately by visitors.

4.) Scanable, to-the-point content
Websites and social media profiles don’t have to pack in a breadth of text. Quality content is concise and easy to read while still expressing all the entirety of details your nonprofit needs to convey. Ernest Hemingway may have never dreamed of writing online content, but his style provides an excellent baseline for writers who need to pack a big punch with few words.

5.) Pictures
Visuals are a necessary form of content today, and, thanks to social media, photo shares can make a huge difference in marketing for nonprofits. A post by Common Sense Media’s Taryn Degnan on Beth Kantor’s blog tells the story of producing a viral Facebook image and includes several points for best image creation practices, including how to add text, what to look for in competitors’ successes and why it’s important for nonprofit photos to be original. If you need help with sizing, HubSpot has produced a must-use infographic for the average social media manager.

6.) Videos
Videos are equally important storytelling tools for nonprofit management professsionals to incorporate in their online marketing strategy. If you are at a loss for how your organization could produce a video, or what subjects might be compelling enough within your nonprofit, think about the stories you have to tell. With modern technology, creating a video can be as easy as shooting and posting from your smartphone.

7.) SEO (eg. keywords, etc.)
Search engine optimization (SEO) can make or break your nonprofit’s online marketing campaign. Choosing the right keywords for your audience can seem like a daunting task, but a look at your mission and services should make this step a breeze for established nonprofits. For more thoughts on SEO’s impact, Mashable breaks down the concept and its history over the last decade for new and experienced online marketers.

8.) Independent pages
If your homepage features several tabs including your organization’s mission, history, constituencies and other relevant subjects, each of those pages must be able to stand on its own. This means anyone who comes across these pages through search engines, rather than being led to them through the home page, should be able to quickly identify that these pages are a part of your nonprofit’s website, and they should invite the reader back to the homepage for further exploration and to other connected sub-pages.

9.) Capture contact info
Without a way to capture contact info, your organization’s website and social media profiles can only be landing pages for eyes rather than certain connections. Develop something that is worth the exchange of an email address–a newsletter subscription, a guide that is useful to your audience, or another “gift” uniquely desired by the people you aim to connect with online–to maximize your online impact.

10.) Measure results
Finally, nonprofit website and social media managers should use analytics and other forms of measurement to track how their posts are helping their organizations better fulfill their missions. Facebook Insights, Twitter Ads and Google Analytics are just a few major examples of tools to help you navigate online marketing results. Without measurement, and a follow-up of adjustments your results may call for, time and effort put into social media and website work can be wasted. Keeping all ten of these best online practices for nonprofits at the forefront of your mind will ensure the success of your new media marketing efforts.