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.

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Client Spotlight: Grub Street

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By the time Grub Street Founder Eve Bridburg connected with ESC for consulting services, her organization had grown strong programmatically. The problem was that her nonprofit had taken off so well she, and the board, felt its management structure was beginning to sag under the weight of success.

“We needed to figure out how to grow, build on success, and work toward sustainability,” Eve said.

A grant from the Boston Foundation allowed the Grub Street team to move forward and take on an affordable consulting project with ESC, where the organization leaders were met with a team of three consultants specialized in strategic planning for nonprofits. The project was initiated in 2010—thirteen years after Grub Street’s founding and eight years after it began as a nonprofit.

“We were at risk of collapsing under our programmatic growth,” Eve said.

The strategic planning project began with the facilitation of a board retreat, where ESC consultants led members in exercises that Eve said led to open thinking and new ideas in an especially productive way. Where the organization had felt stuck before, they emerged from this retreat with energy, focus, structure and confidence. Ultimately, the retreat allowed the team to produce an executive summary that would become Grub Street’s launching point for a strategic planning process.

As the strategic planning process continued, Eve said the board and the ESC consultant team focused heavily on revenue growth. She noted that while the organization had grown on its own, the planning process allowed the board to think about new revenue outlets more constructively and helped them look towards the future in a more structured, stable way.

“There was a concrete redirection as we discussed changes for the future that ESC helped us see,” Eve said. “The process was really well structured and well facilitated. It was a very important and effective process to follow.”

Eve’s perception of the project’s success was not only subjective—she said Grub Street’s budget grew from $900,000 to $1.8 million between 2010 and present day, and the organization continues to function through well-structured and maintained operational management.

“Our work with ESC put us on a healthy, strong path after doubling in size in two years,” Eve said. “Since engaging in this project, we’ve got time to do more thinking, ask more questions, and face more complicated problems than before.”

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.

The 21st Century Volunteer

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Volunteer recruitment has changed over the years—not just from the development of new techniques and technology, but in the way that people perceive and take on service opportunities. ESC President & CEO Bethany Kendall breaks down the key characteristics of the modern volunteer in her workshop on volunteer management, based upon material by Thomas and Jonathan McKee.

The new volunteer is very busy with multiple obligations. 21st Century volunteers have many demands on their time. They’ve got numerous obligations to attend to—often several volunteer responsibilities on top of jobs, parenting, and other engagements—and need to be expert time managers. This implies that they’re willing to wear a lot of hats, but will need to feel passionate about a mission in in order to agree to take on an assignment and stick with the commitment.

The new volunteer wants flexibility. Busy people can’t always manage their time perfectly, so 21st Century volunteers need an organization they work with to be flexible. If your nonprofit thinks making 100% in person meeting attendance mandatory for board members or volunteers, you’d do well to think again. Modern volunteers will commit, but must have the opportunity to connect virtually when necessary.

The new volunteer thinks outside the box. Of the organization, that is. The 21st Century will bring your nonprofit innovation and may suggest ways in which to help shake up the status quo. Be sure staff and board members alike are open and willing to accept that new volunteers are eager to explore efficiency through innovation.

The new volunteer will not tolerate incompetent volunteers or staff. Your organization should be comprised of individuals appropriate to your nonprofit’s success. For example, if a volunteer board committee is led by someone who has no meeting facilitation skills, you are very likely to quickly lose members. . There are two solutions that can go hand-in-hand: conduct appropriate trainings—sessions that are additional to basic foundational training, specific to certain volunteer roles, and when recruiting target particular strengths, prior experience, and interests. Targeting and training can help you avoid many pitfalls in volunteer relations and overall organizational success.

The new volunteers dos not want to just make a contribution—they want to make a difference. This is the overarching ideal of all 21st Century volunteers. Engage volunteers in activities that allow them to directly impact –and be aware of their contributions in the community– for the best possible retention and volunteer satisfaction.

Source Materials, McKee, Thomas, and Jonathan McKee. “Keynote Talks on Volunteer Leadership.” Volunteer Power.1 Sept. 2012. Web. 21 Aug.2014. <http://www.volunteerpower.com/&gt;.

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.

Assessing Your Burnout Risk Factors

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Employee burnout is one of the greatest risks posed to a nonprofit’s success. ESC consultant Sue Ogle teaches leaders to assess the following factors when reviewing their organization’s risks:

Workload
When assessing employee workload, nonprofit leaders should reflect on influences that may make the employees they manage unable to perform to their highest capacity. First, they should be sure the job is defined correctly. When a position is ill-defined, it can cause strife, confusion and a general sense that there is never enough work being covered. Secondly, managers should assess their expectations. Are they fair under the constraints of the position in question? And lastly, nonprofit leaders should check to see if a position, or the organization in general, is under-resourced. This last point is common among nonprofits, so leaders should be diligent in demonstrating and teaching efficiency when resources are tight.

Control
Is the employee given autonomy and an open forum to share influential opinions? This is ideal in preventing burnout, as micromanagement or restriction of decision power can greatly affect the passions of a previously enthusiastic employee.

Reward and Recognition
If an employee is underpaid or generally unfulfilled in his or her work, don’t expect energy levels to stay high for long. This burnout factor can be intensified if the employee is also not recognized for doing good work. Managers should be careful to keep praise genuine—dig deep to find something regularly, whether that is every day or every week, that your employees do well and voice that to them.

Fairness
Nonprofit leaders also must be aware of tendencies to play favorites or to participate in office politics. Blurring the lines between professionalism and cliqueiness is a sure way to make employee energy levels drop hard and fast.

Values
Keep check of how your employees relate to your mission. It’s important for nonprofit leaders to remind their staff of why they do what they do in the first place, and what drew them to the organization; in the nonprofit sector, it is inevitable that at least part of the draw for any employee is the mission.

Work Team
Stay in touch with how individual employees mesh with other staff members and the organization’s board. If there is disconnection, burnout can happen easily. Work daily to keep employees on the same page with one another and your nonprofit’s culture overall.

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: Ashok Boghani

Ashok Boghani has worked extensively in the field of consulting, first at Arthur D. Little and most recently at the Monitor Group.  After getting his doctorate in engineering at MIT, and working several years in R&D, Dr. Boghani transitioned to providing management consulting services to both public and private sector organizations.

“I have certainly been able to use my experience as a strategy consultant to look systematically at the challenges faced by our clients,” he said. “Although the organizations I work with at ESC are smaller compared to the ones I used to consult for, the issues they face are very often similar. For example, looking at the future and figuring out what decisions need to be made to correctly position themselves moving forward.”  Ashok’s specialty is helping organizations develop multiple scenarios of the future, identifying the best position for the organization in each future scenario, and developing strategies to get there from where they are now.

Although he had left his primary career, Ashok knew he wanted to continue using his experience and expertise to help others:  “ESC has allowed me to leverage my experience for causes I believe in. I was looking at potential opportunities to give back to society and at the same time provide intellectual challenges.” He continued, “I was on the board of one non-profit and helping a couple of startups in the social entrepreneur sector. However, that was not enough.  Then I found ESC I am delighted that I did and have become a part of its consulting practice.”

Working as part of a team has been of particular enjoyment for Ashok, and is seen by many consultants to be a great benefit of ESC. “I have worked with some very smart consultants from who I can learn a lot,” he said. “I have met interesting people at client organizations—often coming from a variety of different backgrounds. This is important to me, as I consider collecting experiences a more meaningful activity than collecting money. So, ESC has made me richer.”

Ashok expressed how meaningful his consulting engagements have been at ESC, saying “As an immigrant, I owe a lot to the US in general, and Boston in particular for giving me a comfortable life. Now it is time to give back!”

In addition to consulting at ESC, Dr. Boghani currently advises start-ups, both non-profit and for profit, and is actively involved with TiE, an organization devoted to fostering entrepreneurship. He is a Charter Member Emeritus of the Boston chapter of TiE and currently serves on its board.

Encore Fellows: Now in Boston!

A New Source of Talent for Nonprofits– Encore Fellows Program: Now in Boston!

As nonprofits continually strive to meet a growing demand for services at a time of diminishing resources, an innovative solution successfully employed across the US has come to greater Boston: The Encore Fellowships Program– a source of highly skilled and experienced talent now available to take on high impact work assignments at an affordable cost — designed to meet the unique challenges of nonprofits in areas such as strategy development, marketing, fundraising, human resources, business development, program development and technology.

ESC of New England (ESCNE), a nonprofit organization providing management consulting and capacity building services to other nonprofits, has been selected as regional operator for the national Encore Fellows Program.  Designed to deliver a new source of talent to nonprofits solving critical social problems and contributing to the quality of life in local communities this program helps social purpose organizations by matching skilled, experienced professionals and managers who are generally transitioning from a primary career. Fellowship assignments are typically 1000+ hours over either 6 months full-time or 12 months part-time. The cost to sponsor a Fellow is $25,000.

Nonprofits hosting a Fellow gain affordable, low-risk access to experienced, skilled talent carefully matched to the specific assignment.  Fellows earn a stipend of $20,000, increase their knowledge about social-purpose work, and develop a network of contacts and resources for future engagement –potentially an “encore career” in the nonprofit sector.

Bethany Kendall, President & CEO of ESCNE said, “Expanding our portfolio to now include the Encore Fellows Program allows us to offer high level talent in additional roles beyond consulting and professional development to help nonprofits affordably build capacity. We are very excited to have been designated to regionally operate this program and so pleased to have the first two Boston Encore Fellows on board to help build ESCNE’s new programs!”

Donna Morelle is Boston’s first Encore Fellow.  In her “encore”, Donna became a consultant at ESCNE 18 months ago and then recently transitioned into the new role of Program Director for the Encore Fellowships Program. In her primary career as an educator, she became the first female Superintendent of Schools in Cumberland, RI and was widely known for her support of “100% of the students, 100% of the time. During her tenure, she collaborated to develop new literacy programs resulting in significant increases in student learning, introduced zero-based budgeting and helped co-found Town Wide  Learning Community, a grassroots effort to strengthen learning for all students and residents. Donna

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holds a Doctorate in Education from Boston College’s Lynch School of Education and is an entrepreneurial leader with practical experience bringing programs from concept to scale. This has been a transition that combines Donna’s talents for executive leadership, program development and thought leadership.

“ESCNE is a recognized leader, and the Encore Fellows program offers a proven model for delivering high impact, capacity building assignments and investment in the local nonprofit community,” said Leslye Louie, National Director, Encore Fellowships Network. “The program has expanded rapidly across the US in the past five years and is represented in 35 metropolitan areas.  We are thrilled to now have greater Boston included in our network.”

Beginning in Silicon Valley, CA in 2009, where Fellows in that area have delivered over 70,000 hours of high impact work to nonprofits, they are also credited with serving as role models and mentors to staff through their analytical thinking, management and operational expertise. Currently over 250 Fellows are placed nationally. It is a competitive process for both Fellows and the nonprofits seeking to fill a fellowship position.

ESC of New England, a charitable nonprofit was founded in 1982. Its 150 pro bono consultants provide management consulting and related services in all areas of governance and management including executive coaching and professional development to nearly 100 other nonprofits annually in MA and RI.

Encore.org, founded by social entrepreneur Marc Freedman, is building a movement to make it easier for millions of people to pursue second acts for the greater good. “We call them “encore careers” – roles that combine personal meaning, social impact and often continued income – in the second half of life,” said Marc. “Through an inventive program portfolio, original research, strategic alliances and the power of people’s life stories, Encore.org demonstrates the value of experience in solving society’s greatest problems – from education to the environment, health care to homelessness.”

Nonprofits interested in hosting Fellows, companies and foundations interested in sponsorship, and individuals interested in becoming Fellows can learn more about the program and register for one of the scheduled information sessions at http://www.escne.org or contact Donna Morelle, Director, Boston Encore Fellows Program at dmorelle@escne.org for specific information about the benefits of participation and the convenient online application process. Sessions for prospective Fellows have been scheduled for 9:30 AM Wednesdays in August and September beginning August 13 and for nonprofits will be held on Thursdays at 8:30 AM beginning August 14 at the ESCNE office in Boston. There is no cost to attend, however pre-registration is required.

The Encore Fellowships Network is a signature program of Encore.org. For more information about the Encore Fellowships Network, visit http://www.encore.org/fellowships.

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The Nonprofit Merger Process: A Dating Game

 

Embarking on the road to a nonprofit merger may not strike nonprofit leaders as the most romantic endeavor, but it does mirror qualities of a very common practice: the modern dating game. In their workshop on mergers for nonprofits, ESC consultants Mike Stauff and Bob French use an analysis from CompassPoint Nonprofit Services’ The M Word: A Board Member’s Guide to Mergers that lays out how each step in the creation of a strategic alliance reflects human courtship, from exploring the candidate pool to engaging in one-on-one meetings to officiating a lawful union.

Step 1: Define and Identify Your Ideal Mr. or Mrs. Right
In the beginning, your nonprofit’s leadership—board, Executive Director, and other key stakeholders—should figure out the organization’s must-haves, like-to-haves, ok-not-to-haves and deal-breakers for prospective partner organizations. Individuals as well as the team as a whole should be thoughtful about their current nonprofit’s mission, management style, size, resources and other factors in assessing compatibility with another organization.

Step 2: Go Flirt
Once prospects have been identified, it’s time to initiate contact. The Executive Director, Board Chair, or both should make contact with prospective partners and begin informal conversations. Remember, flirting and first dates are all about first immediate impressions. Nonprofit leaders should be strategic in the information they share as well as the questions they ask and any requests for future contact made. This is a time to tread lightly and to keep options open.

Step 3: Explore Relationships and Date
This is the time to be focused and introspective. At this point, your nonprofit should have a committee in place that can explore the implications of specific mergers and begin due diligence. Your organization may even choose to pass an “intent to merge” resolution to the prospective partner as a signal of seriousness. This type of action promotes trust between both organizations and can act as a solidifying step in the right scenario. Remember though, as in dating, expressions of serious intent can become extremely dangerous tools when handed to more than one prospect.

Step 4: Pop the Question
You’ve explored your options. You’ve found the one. You’ve courted the organization for months or even years, and you know this strategic potential is real. Now it’s time to propose. The merger agreement, like a marriage proposal, is a non-legal agreement. There must be a document developed, approved by both boards, with the basis of a resolution of issues that lays the foundation for the overall structure and vision of a new entity. Expect this process to take anywhere between 4-12 months. Like planning for a wedding, there are many details to hash out before this partnership can be made official.

Step 5: Sign the “Marriage License”
Woohoo! You’ve made it through hammering out the details of what your partnership will look like. It’s time for legal enactment. Upon approval of the Merger Agreement, both boards must enlist their own legal counsel to manage the legal aspects of the merger.

Step 6: Celebrate Your Nonprofit’s Official Union
The launch of the merged nonprofit is an exciting time to showcase the new resulting organization. It’s also an excellent fundraising opportunity—be sure that both nonprofit’s supporters are fully aware of this special event, and that any parties that may be interested in the joining of two previously separate missions know this is a great time to give.

Step 7: Go Forth in Unity
The newlywed phase can be varied in time and intensity. With this period comes various levels of integration, for example your new organization may need to work out systems integration, staff reorganization, cross-training issues, cultural habits, team building and more. The merger process itself may call for management consulting assistance, but this time in particular can be especially smoothed through the employment of nonprofit consultants and capacity building services.

To learn how ESC consulting services can impact your eastern Massachusetts or Rhode Island nonprofit, please contact Director of Consulting Ulea Lago at ulago@escne.org or call 617-357-5550.