About Elizabeth Donnelly

I'm the Consulting Services Coordinator at ESC of New England, a Boston-based organization that provides affordable consulting services to fellow nonprofits in eastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island; our services are facilitated by a corps of senior and executive-level volunteer consultants with a range of expertise in business management and capacity building fields.

Client Spotlight: The International Institute of New England

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For many years, the International Institute of New England (IINE) has been standing on the shore to welcome new Americans, whether immigrants or refugees, with arms outstretched and resources to enable those who seek new homes to lead successful productive lives in their new country.

The mission of The International Institute is to help refugees and immigrants become active participants in the social, political, and economic richness of American life. Carolyn Benedict-Drew, the President and CEO, says that the mission of IINE is so important because it touches all of our lives, not just the clients the organization serves. She goes on to say new Americans add value to our communities as tax payers and productive workers. Civic responsibility is not taken lightly by the Institute’s clients, said Ms. Benedict-Drew, many of whom have fled their homes risking everything, including in many cases their lives, to pursue opportunities as new Americans.

Last year, the organization reached out to ESC of New England for assistance in creating a new strategic plan. Ms. Benedict-Drew said, “it was time”: many in the organization, including the board leadership, knew where IINE wanted to go, but needed first to build a stronger foundation and identity. Given the growing demand for immigration and refugee services, IINE needed to address the implications of how to grow the organization to meet the expanding need.

IINE interviewed a number of consulting groups but decided on ESC. Ms. Benedict-Drew says there were a few factors instrumental in the decision, including the credibility ESC had and the support it could provide in the strategic planning process. However Ms. Benedict-Drew, like many others, said it was the ESC Consultants who made the decision easy for IINE. The depth of knowledge, enthusiasm for the project, and experience they brought to an assessment visit was unlike others.

In 2013, ESC consultants began work on a strategic plan for the organization. The goal was that the plan would be a guide to ensure programs have outcomes aligned with the organization’s mission, objectives, and coordination of the action plan so they are mutually supportive of one another. Establishing the identity of the organization was essential in proceeding with the future goals. This was a careful process that was, as are all ESC engagements, individualized to address the unique needs of the organization.

Ms. Benedict-Drew said that the ESC consultants understood the complexities of the organization and that this resulted in a highly effective refinement of the organization’s mission. Throughout, the process was very collaborative, involving not only the board and organization leadership, but also the staff and clients of the organization. She credits the ESC consultants with “guiding them through the [strategic planning] process with elegance.”

The dedication of the Board and staff working, seamlessly with the ESC consultants, produced a strategic plan the truly reflects the aspirations of the International Institute.

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.

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Meet Our Consultants: Mike Stauff

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For 13 years ESC Consultant Mike Stauff has been transforming his community as a volunteer consultant. Mike joined ESC in 2001 and has since worked tirelessly to give back to over 50 organizations in New England. In a 2007 Business Week article he described himself as,“an inner city kid who made good” and decided to “give something back. Mike understands the challenges facing Greater Boston and this perspective has allowed him to be successful in helping nonprofit organizations become more sustainable and effective in meeting the needs of their constituencies.

After looking at a number of volunteer opportunities Mike was drawn to ESC, where he could utilize years of experience gained from his career as a Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of a startup organization that grew to approximately $250 million, and as Senior Vice President and CFO for a public high tech corporation. He says he didn’t want to volunteer on a one-time basis, he wanted to use his talent and experience to help nonprofits become more sustainable in reaching the constituents they serve, particularly in the areas of nonprofit strategic management, finance, and board governance. He appreciates and enjoys that he is able to work with a variety of nonprofits, and be exposed to different missions and causes. Among Mike’s most memorable consulting engagements are organizations that focus on family services, charter schools, health care, and day care services for both children and adults.

When asked how ESC has changed since he began as a consultant more than a decade ago, Mike believes it has evolved to be more diverse and inclusive. He speaks to the diversity of consultants, not only in race and gender but in experience, backgrounds, and consulting fields. The depth and variety of expertise ESC consultants have has continuously widened and deepened. He also speaks to how ESC has become more comprehensive and sophisticated in its services. He see this as positive and mutually beneficial allowing consultants to gain a deeper understanding and become more involved in the mission of the organization, imparting sustainable work for nonprofits. One thing however has remained the same and that is the extraordinary commitment of ESC consultants to each organization they work with. All have a genuine desire to see every organization grow and thrive, making a positive difference in the community.

Mike currently serves on the Board at Julie’s Family Learning Program. He attended Northeastern University, Boston Ma., where he earned a B.S.B.A. as an Accounting major and a M.B.A.

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

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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.

 

A New Source of Talent for Nonprofits Now in Boston!

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Senior-level talent, delivering high impact work affordably.

As nonprofits continually strive to meet a growing demand for services, an innovative solution successfully employed across the US has come to greater Boston: the Encore Fellowship Program. Comprised of experienced professionals pursuing their “encore careers,” this source of highly skilled and experienced talent is available to take on high impact work assignments at an affordable cost.

ESC of New England (ESCNE), a nonprofit organization providing management consulting and capacity building services to other nonprofits, is the regional operator for the national Encore Fellows Program.  The program is designed to deliver a new source of talent to nonprofits by matching organizations with skilled, experienced professionals who are generally transitioning from a primary career. The fellows 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

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, management and other capacity building assistance please visit http://www.escne.org.

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.

Meet Our Consultants: Jack Smith

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As an ESC consultant, Jack Smith has applied his expertise, acquired through his career as a senior executive with Dow Corning Asia, to more than 20 strategic planning, marketing and branding, and facilitation engagements. Jack was first introduced to ESC while he was teaching business and strategic planning at Boston area colleges. He enjoyed the idea of being able to apply what he was teaching and what he had learned both in business school and in his career to advance the organizations he was passionate about. He joined ESC in 2003 and continues to find his work consulting in the nonprofit sector challenging, energizing, and fulfilling.

Among Jack’s most memorable consulting engagements are the Emerald Necklace Conservancy, Centro Latino, Saint Francis House, and the Asperger Autism Network. He was motivated on all of the projects by the enthusiasm of the staff, board, and volunteers for the organization’s mission. While some of the consulting engagements proved quite challenging, the deep commitment and dedication of the staff created camaraderie and a personal connection that made the engagement even more meaningful and his commitment to his work even stronger.

Jack believes open mindedness is the key to ESC consultants being successful. He attributes the willingness to learn about an organization, its staff, and constituency essential for a successful engagement. ESC consultants do not simply hand over a report of static recommendations, but rather seek to individualize the project as it fits the organization. There is not a one size fits all, each organization has its own intricacies, and our consultants believe it is important to address them as such. ESC builds a team from a pool of 150 consultants each with their own particular area of expertise. Jack finds working with ESC consultants as one of the major benefits of consulting for ESC.  He believes there is so much to gain by working with people who are also driven to help the nonprofit and provide a diverse and important set of experience and skills.

Over the past 11 years Jack has seen the need and demand for marketing and branding consultants go from almost nonexistent to highly sought after. As a marketing expert he worked with ESC to build this practice area, bringing in exceptional talent allowing ESC to rise to meet the demand and provide high impact work in this area. In addition to consulting, Jack is a lecturer for ESC and presents in depth professional development trainings on the subjects of marketing and branding and facilitation.

In 2011, Jack was a recipient of ESC’s Caleb Loring Jr. Award for Consulting Excellence, which recognizes an ESC Consultant who, through a significant number of consulting projects, has demonstrated innovation, excellence, leadership, energy and commitment. Jack is the former Dean of the Newbury College School of Business and Management and has taught International Business and Strategy courses at the Boston University School of Management. In the for-profit world Jack held a variety of positions, including the Director of Marketing and Sales – Asia for Dow Corning Corporation, and Vice President of Dow Corning Korea.