Encore Fellows: Highly-skilled talent, delivering high impact work affordably to help nonprofits

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The Encore Fellowship Program is an innovative solution for nonprofit needs that has been successfully employed across the United States and internationally. ESC operates the regional program, providing a source of highly skilled and experienced talent is available to take on high impact work assignments on a cost-effective stipend. Jonathan Reuman, an Encore Fellow, was recently matched as a Human Resources Professional at Horizons for Homeless Children, bringing to the organization a wealth of experience in developing and delivering human resource initiatives and implementing HR programs with strategic plans. Jonathan previously was the Senior Vice President of Human Resources at the May Institute and the Vice President of Human Resources at Vinfen Corporation. When asked why he chose to become an Encore Fellow he said, “The Encore Fellowship Program is a terrific opportunity to work closely with a mission-driven organization while tapping decades of experience I was fortunate to gain in my career with other nonprofits and for profits.”

Encore Fellows bring a diverse range of expertise to help meet the unique challenges of nonprofits in areas such as strategy development, marketing, fundraising, human resources, business development, program development, technology, and interim leadership. Nonprofits hosting a Fellow gain affordable, low-risk access to experienced, skilled talent carefully matched to a specific assignment. Encore Fellow Rory Laughna, a seasoned financial services professional with over 20 years of experience gained through his career at BTMU Capital Corporation and Mellon Bank Corporation was recently matched as the Finance and Operations Director at Soccer Without Borders. Rory recently spoke about why he values his role as an Encore Fellow saying, “…the fellowships provide organizations an excellent opportunity to address interim and or transitional needs.”

There are currently over 250 Fellows placed in nonprofits around the country, who have provided over 70,000 hours of high impact work to nonprofits. Both nonprofits and Fellows have found the program transformative. “Serving in an Encore Fellowship has not only shifted my perspective on staffing organizations, but also expanded my consciousness of this social movement that can transform our communities around the world,” said Boston Encore Fellow Cathy Kang.

Information sessions for nonprofits looking to learn more about hosting an Encore Fellow are Thursdays at 8:30-9:30, or by appointment. If your organization or an organization you know of would like to take advantage of this unique opportunity please contact Donna Morelle, Director of Encore Fellowships at dmorelle@escne.org to register for an information session, they do fill up quickly.

For additional information about the Encore Fellowship program and ESC of New England, a nonprofit organization providing management consulting and capacity building services to other nonprofits please visit www.escne.org.

 

The Facebook Algorithm

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In terms of nonprofit organizations and affiliated individuals, Facebook has been somewhat of an underused or misunderstood tool. However, when used correctly it can be an incredible resource. One of the keys to cultivating your audience on Facebook is understanding the Facebook algorithm.

The popularity of Facebook is very impressive. ESC consultant and social media expert Mike Byrnes recently spoke at an ESC social media workshop citing statistics such as:

  • 1/7th of humanity is on Facebook
  • More than half of the sharing on the internet is done on Facebook
  • Facebook accounted for 5 out of every 6 minutes spent in the Social Networking Category

Share of Time Spent on Social Networks

social media image

The key to understanding how to capitalize on Facebook’s popularity to expand your reach comes down to understanding the Facebook algorithm. The Facebook algorithm consists of:

  • Affinity – Your relationship and interactions with your followers
  • Weight – The content of post, photos and photo albums have the most weight
  • Time Decay – How long ago did you post or interact

All three contribute to your “rank.”

Facebook-EdgeRank-Formula

Affinity

Interaction is extremely important when building a Facebook presence. You do not want to simply put out a statement and walk away. Instead try to create engagement and interaction with your audience. This can be achieved by posting questions or calls to action, starting discussions, commenting on posts, “liking” comments on your posts, and sharing are all ways to increase your engagement and affinity with people. The more you increase your affinity the more likely you are to have a greater reach in the future.

Weight

On Facebook photos, photo albums, and videos carry the most weight. Photos are more likely to be “Liked”, shared, and commented on above all other content. This does not mean the best practice is to only post photos and videos, be sure there is a variety of content posted. It is also good to note that the weight component can overlap with the affinity component, for example comments on a post hold more weight than a “like” on a post.

Decay

This simply refers to how old your post is. The more you interact on social media platforms the more you extend your reach. However, this does not mean post anything and everything, instead be thoughtful about your posts. Remember to post what will engage your audience. While there are scheduling tools on Facebook, sometimes the real time posting has more traction and carries more weight.

Would your nonprofit benefit from a social media consulting project? Contact Ulea Lago, ESCNE Director of Consulting, at ulago@escne.org or call 617-357-5550 to find out how a consultant could help your eastern Massachusetts or Rhode Island nonprofit.

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Managing Your Meeting Goals

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One of the most important aspects of leading an organization or team is the skill of facilitation. According to ESC Consultant and facilitation expert Jack Smith there are three components to essential components to facilitating effectively, planning the meeting, managing the tools, and managing the meeting. Planning the meeting is the process that ensures the groups interactions and participation are constructive. Managing the tools ensures that the technical aspects for the sessions contribute to the meeting process and goals. The third and what many find most daunting is managing the meeting.  However, with proper preparation and planning this can be the easiest part of the process.

Managing the meeting includes three components: planning the meeting, conducting the meeting, and following up after the meeting. Begin planning the meeting by defining the goals you want to achieve and from there set your agenda. The agenda should provide a preview for the meeting as well as setting the flow of the meeting.  As part of the preparation, think through the following:

  • The people – who needs to be there.
  • Materials and audiovisuals – creating, gathering, and preparing
  • Location – book a room or venue
  • Decide whether or not the meeting goals would be better achieved through a face to face meeting versus a telephone conference or a virtual meeting
  • What the process of the meeting will be

To help set the flow of the meeting and keep the meeting organized and on task, set a time for each agenda item. After the outline of the agenda has been established the rest of the information is “sandwiched” in. This “sandwiched” information will help make important decisions. Sending out the agenda ahead of time allows people to review and prepare discussion and thoughts on the agenda items.

While it may seem unnecessary to some, it is often a best practice to establish ground rules at the beginning of the meeting, such as, returning from breaks at agreed times, turning off electronic devices and cell phones, and reminding attendees to participate and listen actively and respectfully. Remember it is the facilitator’s job to leverage the diversity within the group. This is done by showing personal leadership, valuing and respecting the diverse opinion, and intervening if necessary to prevent inappropriate remarks. The facilitator is not there to be a lecturer, but rather to listen, ask leading questions to stimulate productive discussions, and keep the meeting on track.

After the meeting is over, sending out the meeting minutes is always best practice. The minutes should include notes on the discussion and decisions made during the meeting. Meeting minutes should not only consist of notes on the meeting but also action items and who was assigned to them.

If your nonprofit could benefit from affordable management consulting, please contact ESC’s Director of Consulting, Ulea Lago, at ulago@escne.org or call 617-357-5550. We serve nonprofits in eastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and we offer a complimentary 2-hour assessment visit for all interested area nonprofits.