Spring Forward: Top 10 To-Dos

by Josh Jacobson

Is it really going to be 76 degrees today? And yes, I still put on a sweater vest this morning. It will remain winter if only in my mind.

In truth, March is early spring – there’s no getting around it. And as such, it is a time for us to consider springing forward for the ~80% of nonprofits with a June 30 fiscal year. Here are Next Stage’s top ten suggestions for making the most of the next few months:

  1. Staff Assessment & One-on-One Meetings – We all know that April and May bring a lot of staff turnover, but we wonder if it has to be that way. Sit down with your staff member before the onset of the human resources musical chairs to discuss their career, their pathway with the organization and how to help them reach their potential. It can make a huge difference toward retaining talent.
  2. Complete the Audit & 990 Submission – Ugh, we know. No one particularly loves the audit process and/or the effort to submit the 990 Form to the IRS. Rather than see it as a hateful exercise, use it as an opportunity to reflect on the previous year and get familiar with your stats. Analyzing financial performance is a critical component of nonprofit strengthening.
  3. Review the List of LYBUNTs – Of course, we all know the term LYBUNT, so I hardly need to define it, right? No? It stands for Last Year But Unfortunately Not This, and it refers to past donors who for whatever reason have not yet made a gift during your current fiscal year. Do you know who is on this list? If not, we recommend that you do.
  4. Ensure Sponsorship Fulfillment – Our sponsors care about mission – it is part of why they sponsor you. But make no mistake, sponsorship is earned revenue. Your organization earns it by fulfilling the expectations contained in the sponsorship agreement. It might be time to dust those off and make sure you are on track.
  5. Make Your Top-10 List for Coffee – The clock is ticking and pretty soon it will be too late to try to get people to meet for coffee. I heard it call “June-tober” – the idea that if you don’t have it on the calendar by the start of June, it will likely take until October to get it back on the calendar. Tempus fugit! Reach out and get that meeting locked down.
  6. Prepare for Summer Projects – Too many nonprofit leaders wake up on July 1 and have no idea how they are going to leverage a two-month respite before the fiscal year starts picking up again with the arrival of fall. Don’t be one of them. Make your summer plan now and get folks ready to run when the time comes.
  7. Clean Up the Database – “Garbage in, garbage out.” It is a truism for a reason. The messy constituent relationship management (CRM) database will never do what you need it to do if it is full of mislabeled and poorly-entered data. Make a commitment, set a deadline and get your team focused on a spring data cleaning.
  8. Review Your Marketing Plan – Did we reach the population segments we hoped to reach this year? If so, what made us successful? If not, is it too late the figure that out? (here’s a hint: it is not too late) The beautiful marketing plan you built last summer has suffered the slings and arrows of practicality all fiscal year long. It’s time to level set, fill gaps and double-down on successes.
  9. Prepare Storytelling Content – Spring is event season, which also means it is storytelling season. Every organization should be building a new set of stories to share that illuminate the pursuit of mission. Who are the people your organization has engaged or served over the last 9 months? It is time to capture those testimonials and share those stories.
  10. Schedule a Happy Hour to Celebrate – Amiright? We here at Next Stage always encourage the proper and appropriate imbibing of alcohol to celebrate the year that was. After you’ve made it through our top ten list, you deserve as frosty beverage of your choice. But only one… okay, maybe two.

What are your must-happen activities before June 30? Share them on our social pages!

Job Announcement: Ada Jenkins Center, Executive Director

Ada Jenkins Center (AJC)

Executive Director  – Position Description

Location:           Ada Jenkins Center, 212 Gamble Street, Davidson, NC 28036

Reports To:       Board of Directors


Organizational Overview


Ada Jenkins Center exists to help people in our community create lasting solutions for economic stability.

About the Organization

The Ada Jenkins Center, in Davidson’s historic west side community, serves as a resource hub for approximately 900 client-partners annually on a budget of $3.5 million. The Center focuses services on eligible individuals and families who live in Davidson, Cornelius, and Huntersville.

For more than 25 years, the Ada Jenkins Center has been north Mecklenburg’s answer for unmet social needs. Often, when individuals and families come through the doors at Ada Jenkins Center, they are facing a crisis. Sometimes, the need is specific such as acquisition of a medical or dental home. Other times, the needs are multiple and seemingly without end. Based on the situation, client-partners work with the organization’s Coordinated Services team to first assess eligibility for programs and services and then choose the right mix of supports to uniquely meet their needs. Core services are Education (adult and child), Housing/Workforce Development, Free Medical Clinic, Mobile Dental Unit, and Coordinated Services.

The organization is unique among area service providers in its dedication to bridging federal, state and nonprofit programs that too often operate in isolation. The Ada Jenkins Center’s integrated, multi-generational approach is based on a premise that positive health outcomes (physical and mental) will lead to positive education/employment outcomes and a consequential increase in family economic stability, which, in turn, will improve a child’s (physical and academic) well-being. Stable, healthy, safe children reduce adult stressors and contribute to the well-being of adults. The loop continues with positive outcomes for all family members and successive generations. This model is the only fully integrated and holistic one locally, partnering with many area providers to avoid duplication.

For more about Ada Jenkins Center please visit adajenkins.org.

The Opportunity

At a time when economic mobility has been identified as a critical challenge in our communities, Ada Jenkins Center focuses our resources and efforts to work with families seeking long-lasting solutions and change. The organization has revised its mission statement and service delivery model in recent years to focus on economic stability. Recognizing that this work does not occur in a vacuum, the Center intentionally engages with a wealth of other community partners who also support this commitment to change. The Executive Director will take the reins of a well-respected organization with a twenty-plus history of serving the community, an outstanding reputation, and a compassionate team driven to meet the need for long-term economic stability in north Mecklenburg County.

The Role

The Executive Director (ED) will be a visionary leader with excellent fundraising, administrative operations, relationship-building, and advocacy skills. Reporting to the Board of Directors, the ED is responsible for overall leadership and operations of Ada Jenkins Center including personnel, finances, mission delivery, communication, fund development, and management. The ED will continue organizational development and further its sustainability in conjunction with staff, Board, and stakeholders.

The ED embodies, and serves as chief role model for, the Center’s Guiding Principles: Relationships Driven by promoting a culture of trust and respect, Mission Drive and Excellence, and a Steward of Resources.

Key responsibilities include:

Strategic Leadership and Board Relations

  • Works in partnership with Board members, to assist them in their board operations, administration, planning, and information dissemination.
  • Helps build, sustain, and strengthen all Board functions including meetings, policy adherence, and committee work.
  • Communicates regularly with the Board and engages the Board in meaningful participation to further AJC goals.
  • Works with members of the Board to help identify and onboard new members to further advance the AJC mission.
  • Ensures implementation of organization policies, services and goals as approved by the Board.
  • Serves as a strategic, visionary leader with the ability to proactively communicate how specific priorities are driving overall business goals to key stakeholders, staff and Board.
  • Utilizes a dynamic strategic plan that leads to viable, comprehensive growth for AJC.
  • Oversees all operations of the organization, working in partnership with the Board, appropriate committees, and the Senior Leadership team.
  • Engages and collaborates with the Senior Leadership team: Director of Operations, Director of Development, and Director of Impact and Engagement. Oversees all AJC personnel.

Relationship Building for Resource Development

  • Serves as the organization’s lead spokesperson and relationship-builder in the community, acquiring and nurturing relationships that advance Ada Jenkins Center’s mission.
  • Expands public awareness, representing the organization within the community, including the media. Explores ways for Ada Jenkins Center to gain new external support and resources.
  • Maintains relationships with major donors of the organization and shares critical information with development staff for appropriate donor stewardship.
  • Cultivates trusting positive relationships with philanthropic foundations, corporations, individual donors, faith-based organizations, and local, county, federal, and state governments to support growth of the organization.
  • In conjunction with the Director of Development, and with an entrepreneurial spirit, develops diverse funding streams including the possibility of earned income revenue.
  • Anticipates spending at least 50% of the time focused on this category.

Financial Performance and Viability

Alongside the Director of Operations:

  • Maintains the fiscal integrity of AJC by submitting monthly financial statements, income, and expense forecast updates, and proposed annual budgets that accurately reflect the financial condition of the organization to the Finance Committee and Board.
  • Provides fiscal management that generally anticipates operating within the approved budget, ensures maximum resource utilization, and maintenance of the organization in a positive financial position.
  • Builds and/or maintains a healthy operating reserve that mirrors nonprofit best financial practice, as well as a capital reserve available for unexpected events.
  • Delivers financial records that are organized and maintained and confirms that ethical accounting standards are followed with effective checks and balances.
  • Ensures completion of annual independent financial audit and IRS Form 990.

Organizational Operations

  • Provides inspiration and encouragement to staff, continuing to foster a cohesive, inclusive, and positive team culture with an emphasis on work-life balance.
  • Conducts regular staff meetings to ensure that staff works as “One AJC Team” to achieve the organization’s mission and goals.
  • Develops strategic goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) to define and measure team and outcomes.
  • Promotes the on-going culture of coaching, as well as personal and professional development opportunities for all staff.
  • Maintains cohesive and collaborative Leadership teams.
  • Alongside the Director of Operations:
  • Oversees and implements appropriate resources to ensure that the operations of the organization are sufficient.
  • Ensures that sound and legally compliant human resource practices are in place and they align with the organization’s mission, guiding principles and strategic plan.
  • Recognizes that staff are the organization’s greatest asset. Prioritizes retaining a competent, passionate, and diverse staff to appropriately meet the strategic needs of AJC.
  • Maintains effective and safe facility operations, authorizes necessary campus repairs and maintenance, as well as routine inspections.
  • Provides direction and guidance on facility capital maintenance and renovation projects with AJC’s strategic plan and future in mind, while maintaining the historical integrity of the site.

Mission Delivery

  • Promotes an environment that places client-partners at the forefront of all decision-making.
  • With an eye towards social justice, provides consultation and guidance about the on-going visioning and planning of service delivery to fulfill the mission.
  • Shares information with the Board and appropriate committees regarding mission, model, or service changes.
  • With the Director of Impact and Mission Team:
  • Establishes outcomes, tracks progress and evaluates achievement in reaching service and mission goals.
  • Develops collaborative relationships with other service agencies, including the government and faith communities and other entities.
  • Participates in community strategic planning to maximize community resources while maintaining the vision and mission of the organization

Performs other job duties as requested by the Board of Directors and committee chairs, within the scope of the position.

Required Qualifications & Competencies

The ideal candidate will have the following capabilities and qualities:

  • Demonstrated commitment to the AJC mission of economic stability, our client-partner families, and the North Mecklenburg community.
  • Familiarity with North Mecklenburg County funders, leaders, and community groups preferred.
  • Community leader for systemic change preferred.
  • Experience consistently raising funds and managing an organizational budget of greater than $1.5M.
  • Experience managing, coaching, and genuinely relating to a diverse team of full and part-time staff of approximately thirty, as well as a cadre of volunteers who supplement the AJC work-force on a daily basis.
  • Ability to serve as a strategic visionary leader, with a demonstrated track record as a change manager with excellent fundraising, administrative operations, financial management, strategic planning, service delivery model growth and development, relationship-building, and advocacy skills.
  • Fluent, cogent, oral and written communication skills, and the ability to present formally and informally to client-partners, staff, volunteers, community partners, Boardroom audiences, government and other key and potential stakeholders.
  • Experience setting organization-wide strategic goals and effectively leveraging the skills of employees to achieve goals.
  • Previous experience in engaging Board relations, developing policies, goals and objectives (optimizing the inherent resources of board members) and onboarding and training new members.
  • Demonstrated competence in reading, creating, and understanding financial documents, including budgets, cash flow, income statements, balance statements, and statements of functional expenses.
  • Creative and compassionate attitude towards serving families working toward economic stability, with an ability to define win-win parameters on behalf of AJC, our client-partner families, and the community.
  • Integrity and well-defined principles, practical business instincts and the ability to adapt to corporate and nonprofit environments.
  • Demonstrated ability to negotiate, collaborate, and foster inclusiveness among a wide range of people with diverse backgrounds.
  • Bachelor’s degree required.
  • A minimum of five years of senior leadership experience required; preferably in the social good or nonprofit sector.

To Apply

Ada Jenkins Center has partnered with Next Stage to help in this hire. All inquiries, nominations and applications should be directed via email to Next Stage (search@nextstage-consulting.com). Applications must include a compelling cover letter and resume to be considered for the role. Please also indicate where you learned of the opportunity. Please note that only those candidates invited for screening will be contacted. NO PHONE CALLS PLEASE.

Ada Jenkins Center provides equal employment opportunity to all persons without regard to race, color, creed, age, sex, religion, disability, nationality, or sexual orientation, and promotes the full realization of this policy through a positive, continuing program of affirmative action.


About Next Stage

Next Stage is a strategy and implementation firm based in Charlotte, NC and serves nonprofit organizations and social cause start-ups throughout the Carolinas. Next Stage works with nonprofit organizations to develop game-changing strategies and strengthened operations in service to mission and long-range vision. For more information about Next Stage, please visit nextstage-consulting.com.


Banu Valladares Cares About Spanish-Speaking Children

The article below was published by The Biscuit as a part of Josh’s new series highlighting staff leaders in Charlotte’s nonprofit sector who are shaking things up and making an impact. You can find it, here.


Banu Valladares is on fire.

Prepping for an important board meeting, she knows Charlotte Bilingual Preschool’s future will be determined in that room with the adoption of a game-changing new strategic plan. A task force of board members and staff had worked for months to think through how to increase impact and now it was go-time.

It was the most important vote of Valladares’ 2+ year tenure as executive director of Charlotte Bilingual Preschool. For over two decades, the preschool has provided innovative, two-generation solutions preparing Spanish-speaking children for success in life.

“My StrengthsFinder strengths are strategic thinking, maximizer and positivity,” Valladares shares later. “So, needless to say, I was ready for that conversation.”





Full disclosure: I am the consultant who worked with Charlotte Bilingual Preschool on their recent strategic planning effort. It was one of the most ambitious and inspirational efforts of my career.

The opportunity to partner with the organization was a no-brainer, since I sourced Valladares for the executive director role in the first place.

In 2017, the preschool hired Next Stage to help find the next leader of their organization and truth be told, it did not go very well at first. As told to me by Claire Tate, a child advocate and civic leader who has served as a longtime board member for the organization. Her initial opinion of our work was not all that strong.

Next Stage always starts by engaging the board of directors in order to understand the must-have qualities they are seeking in a successful candidate. In this case, the initial priority of the board was finding someone with deep experience in preschool education. Sourcing a Latinx candidate who reflects the community served, while important, was considered a lower priority.

Boy, was that the wrong direction.

When it became clear to all of us that a Latinx candidate with a varied social good background that includes education would be considered favorably, one name came immediately to mind: Banu Valladares. She wowed the search committee.

Valladares came to Charlotte Bilingual Preschool from the NC Humanities Council where she worked in program and grants administration, partnership-development and special collaborations. Before that, she worked for the NC Arts Council in a number of program management roles. She had also served as an interim principal for Charlotte-based Community Charter School and, for many years, as a translator developing school recruitment materials, arts-integrated learning and creative curriculum.

The search committee started by prioritizing practical experience of teaching in a preschool setting. In the end, they landed a courageous futurist, sometimes called a ‘thought rocket,’ who sees her work, in partnership with her board, as a crusade to empower families.

And everyone who meets Valladares loves her. This is not hyperbole.



Scoring a meeting with Mecklenburg County Manager Dena Diorio is no easy task. In a town of busy people, she is one of the busiest. Her time is precious. Getting an hour with her and her team to unpack Charlotte Bilingual Preschool’s new strategic plan was quite a coup.

And, Valladares was ready. As she starts speaking, she was choked up. The importance of the conversation she was having came with it a rush of emotions. It was clear that she felt (and feels) deeply, almost spiritually committed to bringing more resources and programming to Charlotte’s growing Spanish-speaking community.

“I see this work as a legacy, for all of us, a legacy of impact we can all be proud to have set in motion,” Valladares said.

Charlotte Bilingual Preschool currently serves roughly 150 students in classrooms annexed to the organization at Hickory Grove Elementary School in East Charlotte. But, the need in the Charlotte community for dual-language early education is great. More than 3,000 Spanish-speaking children who enter kindergarten without the benefit of preschool every year.

That was the reason for the meeting with Diorio, to discuss new strategies for reaching radically more youth annually. Without giving too much away as the organization works to formalize the plan into action, the meeting went very well.

Claire Tate was in the room, as well. She has seen the preschool grow from an idea into one of Charlotte’s most admired nonprofits. Watching Tate and Valladares in action, it’s clear that they are aligned as crusaders.

“In public meetings, she speaks with passion and confidence, always impressing her audience,” Tate said. “Banu has been a wonderfully effective leader.”



The preschool’s Board Treasurer, Manuel Arrese, sees Valladares’ leadership as essential to making this more ambitious internal culture a reality.One of the most significant changes at Charlotte Bilingual Preschool over the last two years has been the addition of more Latinx leaders to its board of directors, now representing 50% of governance. This shift was meaningful to the recent strategic planning effort. It was critical to transforming the preschool from a development culture of modest growth and responsible stewardship into one of responsible risk-taking.

“Banu dreams and shoots for the moon, inspiring her team while at the same time developing concrete plans to meet annual goals,” Arrese said. “She aligns her team and demands of them what she demands of herself: dedication and high performance.”

Disrupting the status quo is a part of what makes Valladares such a dynamic leader, and she backs it up with thoughtful approaches to change management grounded in ‘what could be.’ As a Latinx leader, she is uniquely well-positioned to take an organization like Charlotte Bilingual Preschool to the next level.

“Charlotte is a city that has had a number of challenges in recent years with regard to racial harmony and building equity,” Valladares said. “Now imagine Charlotte being synonymous with best-in-class dual-language early education, to be known for that nationally.”

“Just picture it,” she concludes.

A beautiful vision indeed.

Job Announcement: Heart Math Tutoring, Community Outreach Director

Heart Math Tutoring (“Heart Tutoring”)

Community Outreach Director– Position Description

Location:          1100 S. Mint Street, #107, Charlotte, NC 28203

Reports To:       Executive Director


Organization Overview


Heart Tutoring’s mission is to ensure that all elementary students develop the strong foundation in math and enthusiasm for academics needed for long-term success, by helping schools use volunteers as tutors.


Heart Tutoring is a math intervention program that recruits, trains, and supports volunteers as tutors in high-poverty elementary schools in Charlotte, NC. Community members commit one hour per week to deliver an effective, hands-on curriculum through one-on-one tutoring sessions during the school day in high-poverty elementary schools.

Heart Tutoring believes volunteer tutors can be a powerful resource for students if given tools and support, and we believe all children can achieve high levels of understanding in math – a critical competency impacting long-term opportunity. As such, Heart Tutoring recruits and supports 1,280 volunteers as tutors across 23 Charlotte elementary schools with a mission of ensuring that all elementary students develop the strong foundation in math and enthusiasm for academics needed for long-term success. We focus on students who are economically disadvantaged in low opportunity areas. The program became a 501c3 nonprofit in July 2014.

To date, 98% of Heart students have met program growth goals, and over 90% of math teachers report that students show an increase in enthusiasm and/or confidence towards academics as a result of the program. Over the next five years, Heart Tutoring seeks to grow its services from supporting 1,150 students (23 schools) to 2,000 students (35-40 schools) in Charlotte while sharing the model with other cities.

For more information about Heart Tutoring, please visit hearttutoring.org.



Volunteers are the lifeblood of Heart Tutoring. Building relationships with key institutional gatekeepers, the Director will play a critical role in cultivating the volunteer base needed to give hundreds more students math skills, encouragement from a caring adult, and long-term success. Reporting to the Executive Director, the Director will work laterally with Program Managers, Development staff, and other departments to meet annual tutor recruitment goals, which are expected to grow from 1,300 tutors today to over 2,250 tutors annually five years from now.


The Role

The Director will be responsible for leading and executing Heart Tutoring’s strategic plan to sustain and grow engaged partnerships to support volunteer tutor recruitment goals. The Director will be a key player individually in identifying, cultivating, and stewarding new volunteer partnerships and volunteers and serve as the lead contact for a caseload of partnerships. As a member of the Leadership Team, the Director will also serve as project manager, planning and coordinating the full team’s efforts and coaching staff to secure new volunteers and volunteer partners to provide tutoring to a growing number of students each year.  Key responsibilities include:

Strategic Planning

  • Develop and lead a comprehensive and diversified strategy to sustain and grow the volunteer tutor base of Heart Math Tutoring, including cultivation of organization partners, individuals, federal work study students, and other creative sources.
  • Follow current trends and development in the local community to inform cross-sector partnership strategy
  • Provide goals, accountability, resources, and coaching to Program Managers, development staff, other departments, and volunteer ambassadors to support effective outreach and retention of org partners and individual volunteers.
  • Measure progress and adjust strategy to ensure 50 students per school have the tutors needed by October 1 and a 95% fill rate from there (measured 12/1, 1/1, 2/1, 3/1, 4/1).
  • Work in partnership with Program Manger Team on new school recruitment, advising on feasibility of potential new school sites and planning for success at each one.
  • Lead the creation of volunteer recruitment pitches, advertisements, and strategic messaging for community partners.

Partnership Development

  • Identify, cultivate, solicit, and steward top-level organization partners in collaboration with the Executive Director, Development Director, Board of Directors, and full team.
  • Establish and build relationships with new organization partners.
  • Recruit individual tutors within partner organizations by making pitches and building relationships within organizations.
  • Identify leads, make asks, and build relationships in the community to recruit individual tutors for students.
  • Represent Heart Tutoring at community events, tabling opportunities, networking events, and any other areas that support volunteer recruitment goals.
  • Set and achieve monthly and weekly recruitment outreach goals for yourself, adjusting goals and actions to achieve a conversion rate that enables 95% fill rate throughout the year.
  • Work with teammates in dual coverage models for organization outreach.
  • Support volunteer-related events and other program needs as assigned/feasible.

Team Leadership

  • Promote Heart Tutoring’s core values and positive culture throughout. Promote a culture of philanthropy and collaboration across functional areas.
  • Inspire staff, volunteers and donors to act with urgency to ensure all students develop the strong foundation in math and enthusiasm for academics they need for long-term success.
  • Strategically uses time, leveraging volunteers to accomplish goals with efficiency and quality.
  • Research, learn, and employ best practices in volunteer recruitment and management to maintain a strong foundation for Heart Tutoring’s volunteer outreach efforts.
  • Contribute positively to Heart’s team, providing leadership and a high bar for excellence.
  • Serves as a strong member of the Leadership Team, working with the Executive Director and others to help the organization maximize its impact, which includes supporting student outcomes, tutor retention, and fundraising goals.


Required Qualifications & Competencies

The ideal candidate exhibits Heart Tutoring’s core values, has strong leadership and relationship-building skills, and operates with a high level of organization and follow-through. The Director will be a reflective learner and will contribute positively to Heart Tutoring’s team, maintaining a high bar of excellence and leading the organization to increased impact. The ideal candidate would have the following capabilities and qualities:

  • Minimum of 7 years of professional experience in relationship development, community partnerships, corporate relations and/or sales/business development
  • A commitment to Heart Tutoring’s mission and maintains the strong belief that all students can learn and ultimately perform at or above grade level
  • Strong ability to make connections easily and create authentic relationships with a wide variety of individuals and groups
  • Ability to serve as spokesperson for Heart Tutoring, conveying the value of volunteerism to community partners and individuals
  • Demonstrated ability to effectively manage multiple projects, deadlines and creatively problem solve
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills
  • Proficiency with Google Suite, Microsoft Office and CRM software
  • Makes a strong, positive impression in networking and social settings; willing to make asks.
  • Able to teach, tailor, and lead others in sales/recruitment environments and has studied (or is willing to study) best practices in sales/recruitment
  • Track record of learning and adjusting course based on new information, including seeking and incorporating best practices from other orgs and sectors
  • Believes in importance of data and attention to detail and is highly organized and efficient
  • Operates with passion and sense of urgency in helping each child reach his/her full potential
  • Values and exhibits collaboration and teamwork, with internal and external partners
  • Enjoys multi-tasking and the fast pace of a growing organization, which requires planning and strategy in addition to flexibility and initiative

Some evening and early morning work may be required based on timing of community networking events, partner organization meetings (e.g., faith groups on weekends), and Heart Tutoring programming. Our strategy is to work collaboratively and proactively to establish a sustainable schedule, responsive to variation in season and priorities, and flexible when possible for remote vs. in-person work. We have a fast-paced environment.

To Apply

Heart Tutoring has partnered with Next Stage to help with this hire. All inquiries, nominations and applications should be directed via email to Next Stage (search@nextstage-consulting.com). Applications must include a compelling 1-page cover letter explaining your interest in the role and why you believe you are a good fit and a CV to be considered for the role. Please also indicate where you learned of the opportunity.

Heart Math Tutoring actively engages individuals from all backgrounds. We believe that our differences make our team stronger, and we also know that our students benefit from working with adults from all backgrounds. As an equal opportunity employer, Heart Math Tutoring is committed to providing employment opportunities to all qualified individuals and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, age, marital status, veteran status, pregnancy, parental status, genetic information or characteristics, or any other basis prohibited by applicable law.

About Next Stage

Next Stage is a strategy and implementation firm based in Charlotte, NC and serving nonprofit organizations and social cause start-ups throughout the Carolinas.  Next Stage works with nonprofit organizations to develop game-changing strategies and strengthened operations in service to mission and long-range vision. For more information about Next Stage, please visit nextstage-consulting.com.

Job Announcement: Supportive Housing Communities, Chief Executive Officer


Chief Executive Officer – Position Description


Title:                 Chief Executive Officer

Location:          Administrative Offices at the Children and Family Services Center, 601 E. Fifth Street, Suite 255, Charlotte, NC 28202

Reports To:       Board of Directors


Organizational Overview


The mission of Supportive Housing Communities is to provide affordable housing to alleviate homelessness and human suffering.


SHC’s vision is to develop and operate permanent supportive housing for men, women and families overcoming homelessness, especially veterans and those with mental illness, substance abuse, and medical or other disabling conditions.

Community and Residents

SHC is a leader in Charlotte for ending homelessness. While pioneering the concept of providing permanent supportive housing to homeless people with disabilities, the agency maintains a 97% success rate of keeping residents in stable housing.

SHC goals include assisting residents in obtaining/remaining in permanent housing, encouraging residents to increase skills and/or find employment, fostering self-sufficiency and improving self-image, and supporting recovery and wellness. SHC serves formerly homeless people with at least one disability. SHC residents must earn (through employment or earned benefits) less than 30% of area median income and contribute 30% of their income, if any, toward rent. All residents are homeless at the time of entry, with 82% being chronically homeless last fiscal year. SHC provides supportive housing to more than 300 residents on a budget of over $4 million.


  • McCreesh Place is the home to 90 formerly homeless men and women. Opening its doors in 2003, McCreesh Place was Charlotte’s first permanent supportive housing complex. McCreesh Place is a recovery-based housing model and the community includes programs to support recovery. At McCreesh Place, the community makes all the difference and proves that recovery within community works.
  • Scattered Site Housing provides residents safe homes in the community and SHC advocates on behalf of the residents and promotes positive relationships with landlords.
  • John’s Place is a 32-unit apartment building purchased in July 2017 to create more affordable apartments for chronically homeless individuals and families living with disabilities.
  • Project for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH) program focuses on providing street outreach to adults living in outside locations such as streets, camps, wooded areas, etc.

For more information about SHC visit supportivehousingcommunities.org.

The Opportunity

At a time when all eyes are on affordable housing in the Greater Charlotte region, SHC has taken significant strides forward to increase access for people in need. The organization has onboarded several new assets and programs in recent years, increasing its scale and impact. Following the transformational, decade-long tenure of a retiring leader, the new Chief Executive Officer is taking the reins of a growing agency with a compassionate team driven to meet the need for permanent supportive housing in the Queen City.

The Role

The CEO will be a visionary leader with excellent fundraising, administrative operations, relationship-building, and advocacy skills. Reporting to the Board of Directors, the CEO is responsible for overall leadership and operations of Supportive Housing Communities including personnel, finances, program growth and development, communication, fundraising and management of overall operations. SHC has experienced significant growth in recent years and the new CEO will continue growth and sustainability in conjunction with staff, Board and key stakeholders. Key responsibilities include:

Strategic Management and Leadership

  • Serves as a strategic, visionary leader with the ability to transparently communicate goals and vision to staff, Board and key stakeholders.
  • Oversees all operations of the agency, working in partnership with the Board of Directors and the appropriate committees.
  • Establishes a clear vision for continued growth and expansion for SHC.
  • Works closely with development, design, and oversight of program growth and expansion approved by the Board.
  • Provide direct supervision of Accounting Manager, Director of Development, Chief Operating Officer, Accounting Manager and outside accounting firm. Oversees all SHC personnel.

Board Relations

  • Communicates regularly with the Board and engages the Board in meaningful participation to further SHC goals.
  • Maintains an effective and collaborative relationship with the board and implements policies, programs and goals as established by the Board.
  • Works with members of the Board to help identify and onboard new members to further advance the SHC mission.

Community Building and Public Relations

  • Serves as the lead spokesperson and relationship-builder in the community. Initiates and strengthens relationships and collaborations with organizations and leaders connected to SHC mission and goals.
  • Develops collaborative relationships with other service agencies, including the government and faith communities and other entities.
  • Expands public and community awareness; representing the agency to the community, including the media.
  • Participates in community strategic planning to maximize community resources while maintaining vision and mission of the organization.
  • Oversees production of annual report and periodic newsletters.

Fundraising and Resource Development

  • Maintains relationships with major donors of the organization.
  • Explores ways for Supportive Housing Communities to gain support and resources.
  • Manages grants and reporting requirements; providing necessary documentation.
  • Cultivates trusting positive relationships with philanthropic foundations, corporations, individual donors, faith-based organizations, and city, county, federal, and state government to support growth of the organization.

Financial Management

  • Ensures that financial records are organized and maintained in partnership with the Board of Directors.
  • Identifies outside financial management resources.
  • Approves requisitions and ensures ethical accounting standards are followed by implementing
  • effective checks and balances.
  • Works with the Finance Committee and Board of Directors in maintaining monthly and annual financial/status reports on activities of the agency.
  • Manages the yearly budget process involving SHC staff.
  • Ensures fiscal stability. Develops and oversees annual budget after approval by Board of Directors.

Human Resources Oversight

  • Holds regular staff meetings. Provides coaching and encouragement to staff, fostering a cohesive, positive team culture working effectively to support SHC mission and goals.
  • Approves job descriptions and job duties.
  • Is ultimately responsible for the hiring of employees but may incorporate the help of supervising staff and/or board members.
  • Develops and implements annual salary administration plan within parameters defined by the Board of Directors.
  • Identifies and implements insurance coverage and other employee benefits.
  • Oversees annual performance reviews and maintains written records in personnel file as required by law.

Internal Policy

  • Oversees the development, updates, and distribution of internal policy and procedures.
  • Oversees daily operations to ensure staff members employ effective procedures.

Program Oversight

  • Maintains and revises programs of Supportive Housing Communities with input from COO, staff and Board.
  • Oversees eligibility guidelines and program requirements employing evidence-based client centered models.
  • With the COO, oversees a system that monitors program outcomes.
  • Regularly meets with residents and ensures that residents are treated fairly within the social work code of ethics and confidentiality law.
  • Creates an environment that is supportive of the residents, staff, community, Board and volunteers.

Maintenance and Property Management

  • Works with the COO to assure effective operations, building maintenance and routine inspections.

Performs other job duties as requested by the Board of Directors and committee chairs, within the scope of the position.


Required Qualifications & Competencies

The ideal candidate will have the following capabilities and qualities:

  • A demonstrated commitment to the SHC mission and the community in which it serves.
  • Ability to facilitate the mission of the organization and provide staff supervision while working in a nonprofit environment.
  • Ability to serve as a strategic visionary leader with a demonstrated track record as a change manager with excellent fundraising, administrative operations, financial management, program growth and development, relationship-building, and advocacy skills.
  • Fluent, cogent, oral and written communication skills, and the ability to present formally to senior management, Boardroom audiences, staff, residents, HUD, City of Charlotte and the community.
  • Ability to fundraise with sound knowledge of grant and contract writing, special events, direct mail, corporate giving, endowment programs and other relevant forms of development.
  • Previous experience in engaging Board relations, developing policies, goals and objectives (optimizing the inherent resources of board members) and onboarding and training new members.
  • Creative and compassionate attitude towards serving the homeless/formerly homeless population, with an ability to define win-win parameters on behalf of the agency and residents.
  • Integrity and well-defined principles, practical business instincts and the ability to adapt to corporate and nonprofit environments.
  • Master’s level degree required; and ten years of progressive leadership experience in field of low-income housing and/or homeless services or equivalent in human services.

To Apply

Supportive Housing Communities has partnered with Next Stage to help in this hire. All inquiries, nominations and applications should be directed via email to Next Stage (search@nextstage-consulting.com). Applications must include a compelling cover letter and CV to be considered for the role. Please also indicate where you learned of the opportunity. Please note that only those candidates invited for screening will be contacted. NO PHONE CALLS PLEASE.

Supportive Housing Communities provides equal employment opportunity to all persons without regard to race, color, creed, age, sex, religion, disability, nationality, or sexual orientation, and promotes the full realization of this policy through a positive, continuing program of affirmative action.

About Next Stage

Next Stage is a strategy and implementation firm based in Charlotte, NC and serving nonprofit organizations and social cause start-ups throughout the Carolinas. Next Stage works with nonprofit organizations to develop game-changing strategies and strengthened operations in service to mission and long-range vision. For more information about Next Stage, please visit nextstage-consulting.com.

Our Firm’s Next Stage

by Josh Jacobson

We are proud to announce that our firm is rebranding… err, sort of…

Going forward, we will be known simply as Next Stage, dropping the word Consulting. Our new(ish) logo is above.

In truth, I never thought I would become a consultant. When I moved to Charlotte from New York City a decade ago, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do when I grew up. I felt I had climbed the mountain of fundraising for the performing arts and was prepared to run an organization. And I was pretty sure it wouldn’t be a cultural nonprofit. I had (and have) so many passions.

In 2008, Charlotte was a very different place than it is now. This was Charlotte just before the onset of the Great Recession and being a new guy from out of town rendered me persona non grata. “But who do you know locally?” I knew very few people. What I did know was process and strategy – I had learned best practices from some of the strongest nonprofit executives I will ever meet. But without a local network, I was going to have a tough road ahead. Indeed, people who turned me down for positions then are now friends and colleagues.

I share this because working as a consultant was not in my mind when I arrived in Charlotte. Without other options, and honestly without a clear direction of what I wanted to be in the nonprofit sector anyway, I reluctantly took up the title. And during my 10,000 hours learning the profession, a seed was planted that germinated as Next Stage.

It took a while – in fact, it took years – but nonprofits in Charlotte finally did wake up to the need for stronger leadership and resource development regardless of local footprint. Now, a talented professional from out of town is a coveted executive in our nonprofit sector. I was asked recently to assist with a nonprofit search where the preference was for someone not from Charlotte. Let that sink in for a minute.

My firm started in January 2014 with the charge to change what consulting could be. We sought to partner deeply with the nonprofits we serve, doing the homework needed to earn the right to offer assistance. We recalibrated the high cost of local consulting purposefully, to make strategy help affordable for many more types of organizations. And we sought out innovators and big thinkers – people who would be willing to invest in the partnership as deeply as we do.

The result? Another 10,000 hours and more than 100 nonprofit engagements later, Next Stage is reborn. While we have always seen ourselves as a social entrepreneurship company serving as a tool of community leaders on both sides of the philanthropic divide, we now understand the true nature of work. We see real gaps in our community – gaps that we feel called to help fill. Following last year’s addition of Caylin Haldeman as Next Stage’s Project Development Manager, we are expanding our model to serve Charlotte’s nonprofit and philanthropic communities by building out capacities that allow us to explore local challenges to our sector.

We feel we have already redefined what consulting can be, but it is a word that will always conjure different things for different people. We remain deeply committed to consulting with nonprofits – what we now call client partnerships – but we see a new horizon for our work.

Going forward, we are committing to three distinct lines of business:

  • Client Partnerships – We are extraordinarily proud of our 100+ engagements with nonprofits across the Carolinas, with a concentration in our hometown of Charlotte, NC. We believe that area nonprofits benefit from our efforts to dive deeply into organizational strengthening and resource development. As we look to the future, our goal is to serve as Charlotte’s go-to firm for vision-centric planning and implementation, and we welcome your help connecting with organizations seeking stellar counsel.
  • CULTIVATE – Our incubator for emerging nonprofits launched as a pilot in 2018 with participants including Charlotte is Creative, Promising Pages and Learning Help Centers of Charlotte. Early returns have been extremely positive, with each of these organizations taking substantial steps toward deepening impact and increasing sustainability. Next Stage is planning to expand the program in 2019. The application will be available beginning in early September 2018, so please help us source amazing founder-led organizations.
  • Thought Leadership – In early 2019, Next Stage will be publishing a research-informed report examining the challenges and opportunities of talent recruitment and retention in Charlotte’s nonprofit sector. Helping improve the ability of local nonprofits to source and keep talent is emerging as a leading issue facing our community, and Next Stage sees a need for leadership on this topic. This research begins in summer 2018, and we hope you will help us by responding to our requests for survey participation and interviews.

It’s a new day at Next Stage. We look forward to serving you – all of you.

Position Opening: President & CEO, Charlotte Museum of History

Position Description: President & CEO

Client: Charlotte Museum of History
Location: 3500 Shamrock Drive, Charlotte, NC 28215
Founded: 1969
Reports To:  Board of Trustees

Charlotte Museum of History — Organizational Description

The Charlotte Museum of History interprets and preserves Charlotte’s unique history, enriching the community through shared understanding of the past and inspiring dialogue about the future.

The Charlotte Museum of History is a cultural institution in east Charlotte offering educational programming for thousands of children, teens and adults; tours; regular community activities, and a variety of permanent and traveling exhibits.

Today’s Charlotte Museum of History building opened in 1999 but the institution’s roots date to the 1940s. The museum and its grounds are home to Mecklenburg County’s oldest surviving structure, a 1774 stone house built by early settler Hezekiah Alexander, a local Revolutionary War leader who served on the committee that drafted North Carolina’s 1776 constitution and bill of rights. In 1949 the Daughters of the American Revolution worked to restore the house, and today the Hezekiah Alexander Home Site is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Recent Efforts
Last year, with the community’s help, Charlotte Museum of History added to its robust programming and completed critical preservation projects for the Hezekiah Alexander Home Site.  The organization also successfully merged with Historic Charlotte, which shares a passion for preserving our community’s built environment and unique history.

With solid revenues, a great staff and a strong and growing base of support, the museum is moving forward with its recent strategic plan, which calls for increased presence and engagement in the Charlotte region while enhancing the museum experience through partnerships and development efforts.

The Role
The CEO is more than the face of the organization – the role is the captain of the organization with a foot in two worlds, stewarding historical assets of the past while engaging the new museum constituents of the future. It is a role that requires an appreciation of history, of course, but also an entrepreneur’s spirit and a manager’s instincts.

Having navigated the challenging post-Recession years that impacted all nonprofits in the region, Charlotte Museum of History is primed to take the important next steps toward sustainability and increased impact.  The organization is seeking a dynamic leader who can get the most out of a team by using mentorship and coaching while continuing to add new roles and leveraging the involvement of volunteers.

Duties and Responsibilities

Management & Leadership

  • Provides daily oversight to the operations of the museum
  • Maintains a working knowledge of museum trends, professional standards, and best practices to be carried out when developing or improving operations, programs, exhibits, and collections care
  • Defines the organization’s long-term goals and strategic focus in partnership with the Board of Trustees, and implements strategic plans and annual operating plans
  • Works in partnership with the Board to set and accomplish the organization’s mission and vision

Human Resources

  • Responsible for recruiting, hiring, training, developing, supervising and evaluating museum personnel (both paid staff and volunteer)
  • Promotes a strong and intentional organizational culture that fosters loyalty, integrity, commitment and creative thinking – one in which staff are empowered, feel valued and are regularly recognized for their contributions
  • Provides overall management of the human resources function, including supervision and a performance appraisal system

Fiscal Management

  • Understands and supervises the business functions of the museum, including budgeting; monitoring and reporting income, expenses, investments, and cash flow; maintenance of appropriate records; and assisting the museum’s auditors
  • Ensures that fiscal management complies with all legal and grant requirements, and is in keeping with sound financial practices of the nonprofit community

External Relations

  • Provides overall leadership in external relations including partner development, public relations and fund development, engaging in consistent outreach efforts and managing a portfolio of relationships
  • Develops strong partnerships that serve the mission and vision of the museum
  • Serves as the museum’s spokesperson for media relations
  • Engages in public speaking and advocacy opportunities
  • Establishes and implements with a Development Director (yet to be hired) an annual fund development plan with fundraising goals, strategies, action items, timelines, and assigned responsibilities
  • Participates directly in fundraising activities, including identifying and meeting with donors and prospective donors to generate support
  • Provides direction and supports board member involvement in fund development

Program Oversight

  • Works with Education Specialists to develop, implement and coordinate yearlong museum programming and outreach efforts, conducting ongoing assessment with regard to the effectiveness of planned curriculum
  • Provides regularized and systematic staff development opportunities

Required Qualifications

The ideal candidate would have the following capabilities and qualities:

  • Bachelor’s Degree in History, Public History, Museum Studies, Nonprofit Administration/Management, or equivalent degree program; advanced degree preferred
  • A passion for history; enthusiasm and knowledge about historic preservation a plus
  • Management experience with proven ability to provide leadership and inspiration to staff and volunteers; experience in a museum or destination setting a plus
  • Experience in museum or nonprofit work for a minimum of 2 to 5 years
  • Demonstrated track record in financial management
  • Demonstrated excellence in communications and interpersonal skills
  • Experience in external relations (Charlotte market a plus)

Salary will be competitive and commensurate with experience.

To Apply
Charlotte Museum of History is an Equal Opportunity Employer committed to inclusive hiring and dedicated to diversity in its work and staff. Employment decisions are made without regard to race, color, religion, gender, sex, national origin, physical or mental disability, age, sexual orientation, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by applicable state or federal law. Charlotte Museum of History encourages candidates of all groups and communities to apply for this position.

Beginning September 8, 2017, all inquiries, nominations and applications are to be directed via email to Next Stage Consulting: search@nextstage-consulting.com.  Applications must include a cover letter and CV.  Please indicate in the subject line of your email the position and organization to which you are applying and where you learned of the opportunity. NO PHONE CALLS PLEASE.

Please note that only those candidates invited for screening will be contacted.


Imported Organizations (The Community Social Impact Portfolio)

by Caylin Viales

“Importing” nonprofit organizations can be a tricky thing to talk about.

In fact, I don’t even really like using the word “importing” to describe nonprofit scale. It evokes a mental picture of a cargo ship stacked with hundreds of identical shipping containers full of indistinguishable goods and materials – which is not the imagery I want to be in your head when we are talking about the strategic, pointed replication of proven nonprofits. It’s too easy to assume defensive positions:

“We have organizations that could do that here.”

“That won’t work in our community.”

“Why are we creating even more competition for our already limited funding sources?”

“Weren’t you guys just talking about how there are too many nonprofits in Charlotte?”

Those are good questions, but they miss the point. When Charlotte lacks an effective solution to a pressing community need, we have a few options. Well-meaning residents could go out and start multiple new grassroots programs. An established organization could try to develop a new program that addresses the issue. A blue-ribbon panel could be formed to study the best practices in addressing this type of community need. Or, we could look at proven solutions cultivated in other communities, adapting and replicating either the organization or the program locally to achieve similar results.

I don’t see anything necessarily wrong with any of the four options. But I think the last one, when executed well, holds the most potential for success. The challenge is that, unlike commercial markets, there is no automatic growth mechanism to help successful nonprofit organizations scale, and current funding models are inefficient and ineffective at bubbling up top performers. Consequently, it can be extremely difficult to identify and scale the best social innovations and proven nonprofit programs.

Full disclosure: before I moved to Charlotte, I spent the majority of my early career working with the GreenLight Fund, a philanthropic organization that does exactly this. GreenLight selects national nonprofit organizations with proven solutions and helps them scale their programs to the cities that need them most. The model builds community demand for these proven programs, alleviating the many roadblocks national organizations face when trying to expand to new markets while building the local partnerships necessary for long-term success. (More full disclosure: GreenLight announced in May 2017 that it is launching a site in Charlotte.)

Because my role focused on researching and assessing organizations from across the country, I know for a fact that there are brilliant nonprofits implementing effective and entrepreneurial programs in other communities that could make a huge difference in Charlotte, if only they could find a way to get here.

But far too often, our time and resources are directed toward recreating the wheel instead of developing the capacity and growing the reach of organizations that have already proven their impact elsewhere, or conversely, local organizations that are prepared for and deserving of regional or national scale.

So, the question is: how do we, as a community, identify which nonprofits could address our most pressing needs, and how do we evaluate which of those organizations have the capacity and infrastructure needed for success in our city? Perhaps even more important: How do we ensure these organizations find long-term sustainability in our community – even when they are no longer the new, shiny penny that Charlotte loves to love?

The Imported Organization

As Josh and I have deepened our discussions about the Community Social Impact Portfolio, I have become somewhat of an advocate within our firm for the imported organization and its vital role in the community. By leveraging established national infrastructure, developing and implementing proven programs and (often) unlocking national philanthropic dollars, these organizations fill important gaps in a region’s nonprofit sector.

In my experience, I have found that imported nonprofits can actually strengthen the work of emerging, niche and blue-chip organizations through both formal and informal collaborations that encourage capacity building activities in leadership development, program fidelity, data collection and evaluation.

There are some great examples of imported organizations already operating in Charlotte, including: Nurse-Family Partnership (managed by Care Ring), Reach Out and Read (in partnership with Read Charlotte), and Reading Partners (launched in early 2016). Each of these programs have a robust evidence base demonstrating long-term impacts and strong partnerships with local nonprofits and/or Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, and they address known local needs in health and early literacy.

In addition to supporting imported models like the three cited above, though, we must begin think strategically about how we can help our most promising social entrepreneurs, emerging organizations and niche organizations create strong business models that can one day support scale beyond Charlotte. As we build infrastructure that embraces proven programs from other communities, we are also creating pathways for our own homegrown organizations to someday navigate those complex replication strategies and actualize their own ambitions for scale.

As Charlotte continues to grapple with increasingly complex social and economic issues through initiatives like Leading on Opportunity and Read Charlotte, there will be many opportunities to both embrace proven strategies from other communities and grow our own best-in-class organizations to strengthen our sector and move our city forward.

The Checklist: Imported Organizations

The nonprofit sector, nationally, is becoming more and more entrepreneurial and growth-focused. It is up to us, as stewards of our community’s nonprofits, to create the local infrastructure necessary to evaluate opportunities to import and sustain proven models, while avoiding potential program duplication and excessive competition for funding. It is also up to us to support our local organizations as they work toward achieving their own growth aspirations.

Next Stage believes that imported organizations (and local nonprofits that hope to scale to new communities) must build a strong organizational and programmatic foundation before exploring growth opportunities. Replication is challenging and requires financial stability, program fidelity, significant resources and deep commitment – and organizations should be carefully evaluated for capacity for long-term success. Donors seeking to support organizations that bring proven solutions from other communities can use the following criteria for evaluating the long-term sustainability and impact of an imported nonprofit: 

  • Differentiated Model that Meets a Local Need: Next Stage believes market research is a core component of any planning process, and is uniquely significant for organizations considering launching sites in new communities. Imported organizations must be engaged in consistent local landscape analyses and needs assessments, making sure their programs are aligned with community needs. Programs should also be clearly differentiated from anything in the local market, avoiding duplication or excessive competition with other established organizations.
  • Demonstrated Impact and Robust Evidence Base: Organizations should establish a base of evidence through constant data collection, longitudinal output and outcome tracking, and internal and external evaluations. This evidence should support a well-developed logic model that speaks to the intended impacts of the organization’s different programs. Ideally, an organization would report similar results across multiple sites, indicating fidelity to the model.
  • Locally-Informed Programming and Partnerships: Imported organizations cannot enter new communities and maintain long-term impact and sustainability in isolation. As shown in the examples referenced above, many imported organizations form partnerships with local nonprofits to quickly access target populations and benefit from positive brand association. Organizations should also be responsive to community needs and cultural differences in program implementation, ensuring that all programs are locally-informed.
  • Capacity and Infrastructure that Supports Scale: National organizations that are actively growing must develop a comprehensive plan that allows them to develop the systems and human and financial resources to continue to scale while maintaining financial stability. Policies and procedures should be standardized across sites, and there should be protocol in place for succession planning, new site development and scaling culture and decision-making practices. Data management infrastructure including collaboration, file management, program data collection and customer relationship management should be functional and actively used.
  • Sustainable Business Model with Diverse Revenue Streams: To ensure long-term financial sustainability, imported nonprofits should have a revenue model that utilizes earned revenue streams (e.g. fee-for-service programs), receives significant funding from private and/or public partners, and leverages new philanthropic dollars through national funding relationships.

When replicated thoughtfully, we believe that imported organizations can successfully fill gaps, address local needs and support the work of existing local organizations. These five criteria create a suggested framework for assessing imported organizations and evaluating their potential for long-term impact. Do you agree?

Next week, Josh will be back to explore the role of Blue-Chip Organizations in the Community Social Impact Portfolio. As always, please join the conversation with us on Facebook and Twitter.

Just starting this series? Read the other installments here:

Overview: The Community Social Impact Portfolio
Emerging Organizations
Niche Organizations
Imported Organizations
Blue Chip Organizations

Caylin Viales is Project Development Manager for Next Stage Consulting. Before relocating to Charlotte, Caylin worked as a Program Associate with the GreenLight Fund, a philanthropic organization with roots in the venture capital community. Over a three-year tenure, she supported the selection and launch of five high-performing national organizations in Philadelphia. Prior to GreenLight, Caylin spent six months as a fellow at the national consulting firm Frontline Solutions, working with the Philadelphia office in their efforts to enhance the impact of nonprofit and public sector programs.

Copyright: kenishirotie / 123RF Stock Photo

Niche Organizations (The Community Social Impact Portfolio)

by Josh Jacobson

The alternative title of this post could be “Sustainable Growth – Is It an Oxymoron?” (Answer: No, but it ain’t easy.)

A lesson learned early in my consulting career came in the form of a longtime board member for a stable, no-frills human services organization. As a part of a strategic planning process, board members posited a number of ideas for how the organization could leverage its position in the community to create positive impacts.  Some of the ideas were pretty out there, but most were rooted in the mission.  I felt at the time that my job was to encourage more risk-taking by a nonprofit that was somewhat risk-adverse.

The response of that board member: “That’s just not who we are.”

There is a lot of wisdom in those words.  Knowing when not to explore expansion is as important, or even more important, than the brainstorming that comes up with innovative solutions.  While Next Stage has social innovation as a tenet of its work, we know that the key is to right-size that for individual organizations.

The challenge is that it is difficult for nonprofits to stand still.  There is a built-in expectation of growth that has only become more pronounced in donor audiences over the last ten years.  Whereas the Greatest Generation was satisfied to see stability and “regular returns” as a case for support, each successive generation has tended to seek a dynamic vision of future impact.

And in reality, it’s a somewhat unfair expectation that is unique to nonprofits.

I love the bagels at a certain shop near my home.  We visit often and know the owners fairly well.  Their bagels are delicious and the homemade cream cheese is top-notch. I patronize this bagel shop because I love their product.  My willingness to shop there is not predicated on the bagel shop’s plan for growth and increased impact.  I have self-interest baked (literally) into my reason for visiting.

Nonprofits are different.  For many donors, it is not enough to have built a sustainable business model that serves a set number of people each year, or is focused on one specific outcome.  Constituents expect a dynamic vision that inspires them to be involved, and that vision almost always speaks to how the organization will have even more impact in the future.

Whether we like it or not, this trend is only becoming more pronounced.  And yet with growth comes the challenge of continued sustainability.  Foundations and savvy donors want to see diversified revenue streams that reflect a stability that can weather change.

Such is the challenge of nonprofits, to both grow in impact while also demonstrating sustainable operations.

The Niche Organization

I think often about that board member who educated me about his nonprofit’s identity based on a set of values that inform the creation of guiding principles.  Those principles help an organization’s leadership make decisions about how to move forward.

As I mentioned in the post introducing the Community Social Impact Portfolio, those guiding principles should result in a goal of “leading in our space” for the vast majority of nonprofits.  While there are many large agencies in the Charlotte region that have evolved over time to include a diversity of programming, there are simply too many nonprofit organizations in existence now for any organization to aspire to that level of institutional capacity.

Leading in your space means that no one would even think of creating another nonprofit in your city with a similar mission.  It means “owning” your mission in such a way that you are the go-to organization and considered a thought-leader.  It also typically means narrowing your organization’s focus to ensure that it can continue to claim that mantle as it scales.

An organization seeking niche status must start with evaluating its mission, which is often too expansive.  Missions are not meant to be locked forever in time, but instead should evolve to meet the needs of a community.  Next Stage suggests conducting a needs assessment married with competition analysis to better understand where a nonprofit fits.  Whereas an organization may have claimed a wider berth 20 years ago when there were fewer organizations, the changing environment likely requires making changes to mission to reflect today’s realities.

“What do you want to own?”

It is a question we will ask the leadership of an organization with a murky mix of programming or overly broad ambitions.  I have seen organizations clarifying their pursuit of a niche as the missing ingredient to their success.  That decision is clarifying and provides leadership with a vision platform that greatly informs decision-making.  It allows organizational leaders to have more productive dialogue and unleashes creativity in service to specific goals.

The Checklist: Niche Organizations

Niche organizations (and those that aspire to such a designation) must continually conduct internal and external analysis to stay on track – this is not a “set it and forget it” effort.  Donors and volunteers seeking an organization to engage with can use the following top-five evaluation areas when considering the health and worthiness of a niche nonprofit:

  • Logic Model – According to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, a program logic model is defined as “a picture of how your organization does its work – the theory and assumptions underlying the program.  A program logic model links outcomes (both short- and long-term) with program activities/processes and the theoretical assumptions/principles of the program.”  The Foundation has a very good development guide available, and it is a framework that not only results in optimization of operations and programming, but also makes for a great case for support.  For niche organizations, creating your own version of “how a bill becomes a law” is critical as the organization zeros in on (and narrows) its value proposition.  As a donor or volunteer, it should be clear how your time and support translates into impact.
  • Theory of Growth & Change – As discussed previously, X-Gens and Millennials crave an understanding of the underlying business model of a nonprofit to better understand its potential for future impact.  Sturdy niche organizations have developed a theory of growth and change that serves as an important messaging platform.  Next Stage champions the development of a ten-year vision with a clear three-year roadmap and optimized one-year action plan.  Ten years is a long time, and no one has a crystal ball.  Still, an organization should have some overarching time-limited “theory of growth and change” that outlines an idea of where it is going.  And that theory should note how the organization intends to lead in its space.
  • Ten-Year Pro Forma – Alongside that ten-year plan should be a pro forma budget that suggests the income and expenses need for that decade-long ambition.  This is the difference between lip service and having an articulated business plan in support of that overarching goal.  Some donors and most funders start their exploration of a nonprofit with the income and expense statement, long before they read a narrative or conduct a site visit.  How you express your current and future impact through the numbers is a differentiator, with strong organizations pursuing niche status able to express financial need not only as a function of today but tomorrow as well.
  • Strong Branding – A common refrain for each of these checklists will be marketing, which is badly needed to ensure any sort of sustainable growth.  This is particularly true for niche organizations (and those pursuing it), which must clearly articulate their reason for being.  Organizations like Crisis Assistance Ministry, Charlotte Toolbank, and Catawba Riverkeepers have strong, clearly-articulated brands that allow them to lead in their space.  That branding is about more than a great logo or informative website.  It is about creating consistency in the mind’s eye of Charlotteans, who understand why a nonprofit exists and what it does to strengthen the community.  If an organization’s brand is poorly formed, the chances of it ever truly owning its space are weak.
  • Pipeline of Individual Giving – Over-reliance on institutional support (government and foundations) is the primary challenge for niche organizations, particularly in Charlotte.  The city’s institutional philanthropy has a bit of a reputation of “shiny penny” funding – supporting new initiatives for several years and then cutting funding before the organization can achieve sustainable support in favor of the next new idea.  Organizations planning to grow programming with grant funding must develop a pipeline of individual giving from a variety of sources since that grant funding is likely to disappear.  That means getting smart about donor acquisition and retention – two terms that should be daily affirmations for the niche organization.

We love niche organizations at Next Stage – we believe strongly that a robust community of nonprofits that lead in their space has a much better opportunity of actually moving the needle than a hodge-podge of groups chasing funding.  Do you agree?  Please share your thoughts on Facebook: www.facebook.com/NextStageConsultingNC/

Next week, Caylin Viales will tackle Imported Nonprofits.  Stay tuned!

Just starting this series? Read the other installments here:

Overview: The Community Social Impact Portfolio
Emerging Organizations
Niche Organizations
Imported Organizations
Blue Chip Organizations

JoshJosh Jacobson is Managing Director of Next Stage Consulting, a Charlotte-based firm focused on organizational development and fund development for the nonprofit sector. Next Stage Consulting provides organizations access to affordable, high-quality consulting services to help them “get to the next level.” Josh is a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) and is President Elect for the Charlotte Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Image Copyright : Mike Nellums

Emerging Organizations (The Community Social Impact Portfolio)

by Josh Jacobson

Last year, I overheard a conversation at work.  A friend of mine was asked by someone I didn’t know to name some of the prominent social entrepreneurs working in Charlotte. Without hesitation, a list of names were rattled out.  The people mentioned were all stellar folks and worthy of inclusion.

But my name wasn’t mentioned.  Perplexed, I asked my friend why that was.

“Well, I guess I think that you work with social entrepreneurs, but that you’re a consultant. You’re just… different.”

I’ll admit, I was a bit wounded.  In my mind, the work of Next Stage has always had purpose and meaning with social benefit at its heart.  The firm was founded to be an alternative to “for hire” consulting that was more interested in collecting fees than ensuring client success. But as I settled down later, I realized that there was some real truth to what was said.  While Next Stage had a mission and a set of defined values, we were missing two elements that every social entrepreneurship company needs: long-term vision and an organizing philosophy. These must-have elements, which Next Stage had preached to its clients, were unexamined in our own business model.

Earlier this year, I made an important decision about the direction of Next Stage and set about making it happen. A critical piece was the hiring of Caylin Viales, who has brought her tremendous talent and passion for social impact to the redefinition of what Next Stage could be.  Last week, another important component was launched – the public announcement of our philosophy regarding the Community Social Impact Portfolio.  Located near the end of that post, Next Stage commits to “orienting all of its work toward these five classifications” and “reorganizing its service lines to align with this philosophy.”

We do this because we see the role Next Stage plays in the community differently now.  We are making a commitment to the overall health of Charlotte’s industry of social impact.  In working individually with 501c3 nonprofit organizations directly, our commitment is not only to the client that hires us but also to the broader community that has a vested interest in the success of all nonprofits.  We feel a big part of our role is about “playing the orchestra, and not just the instrument.”

Because Next Stage is a social entrepreneurship company, and we are just as committed to improving our community as the nonprofits that trust us to help them achieve success.  The difference is that our mission isn’t focused on one positive social outcome – it is focused on all of them.

The Emerging Organization

It is perhaps because of how we perceive our identity as social entrepreneurs that we have been so attracted to helping emerging nonprofits.  Organizations thrive or die in their first ten years of existence, and much of that is related to the existence of a passionate founder.

I am unabashed in my love of nonprofit founders. They are the “special sauce” in the emerging nonprofit business model, capable of defying odds to make the impossible possible.  Through their eyes, every mission is brought to life and is emotionally captivating.  They will their nonprofits into being, imbue it with their personal brand, and then… what?  What happens next? Happily ever after?

Unfortunately, no. Too often, exhaustion gives way to frustration, and before long someone who could have been a game-changer is not even involved anymore. The nonprofit that had so much promise just a few years before is a shell of its former self.  Or not even in business anymore.

It is a sad fact that many start-up nonprofits don’t see their tenth year. Statistics proving this are difficult to come by since nonprofits don’t have to tell the IRS when they’ve “gone belly up.”  But evidence abounds. While there are many great success stories, there are perhaps just as many examples of new nonprofits sputtering as the decade anniversary approaches.

My firm is typically contacted when an organization has begun to understand that it needs some help to achieve a degree of sustainability.  We are often very successful, and the organization is placed on a pathway to ensuring long-term success.  But sometimes the challenges are too great or the organization too resistant to change.

We believe passionately that emerging nonprofit are badly needed to challenge the status quo.  Start-ups are typically less risk adverse and are able to pilot new strategies that contribute positively to the industry.  As an organization matures, it can lose that “special sauce” of the nonprofit founder, who stays up late until the job is done and knows the background of every person served.  They are often very open to volunteer engagement and encourage the community to come alongside their programming to help ensure success.  There are lots of reasons start-up nonprofits should be a dynamic component of the Community Social Impact Portfolio.

At the same time, remember the statistics from the last post about the proliferation of nonprofits in Charlotte (e.g. 3,600 public charities)?  As a community, we need to be smart about how we encourage social entrepreneurs, and more mindful of what a successful start-up business model looks like.  As I heard a donor say once, “I’d rather give my money to an organization with somewhat less impact that I know will still be around ten years from now, than an organization with tremendous impact that flames out from a poor business model.” In this way, nonprofits should view their donors (especially Millennial and X-Gen donors) as less “buying services” than “stewarding long-term solutions.”

The Checklist: Emerging Organizations

As a part of this series, Caylin and I will be suggesting a five-point checklist for each of the five areas highlighted in the Community Social Impact Portfolio. This checklist will roll into a tool that will be made available at the end of this series for donors and funders, along with worksheets for organizations to use when considering organizational strengthening.  This week, we look at the top-five evaluation areas when considering the health and worthiness of an emerging nonprofit for support:

  • Differentiated Mission – An emerging organization with an expansive mission statement is very likely biting off more than it can chew.  Successful start-up organizations are razor sharp on what they do and how they fit in to the already-established network of community organizations. To know that a mission is differentiated, a needs assessment should be conducted that documents the problem as well as the other organizations and supports in the marketplace.  People interested in getting involved with a nonprofit should start with its mission, and if it is poorly formed or not well stated, the likelihood for success is greatly diminished.
  • Distributed Leadership – The potential for burnout in the nonprofit sector is a constant companion, and nowhere more so than with the nonprofit founder.  Many start-up organizations are setup with what is called “heroic leadership,” where a handful of people are doing all of the heavy lifting.  While that may be necessary in the very early stages, the organization needs to be shifting as soon as possible to a “distributed leadership” model, where volunteers (and later contractors and staff) are owning defined responsibilities. An organization that is overly dependent on a handful of individuals is at risk, and its leadership should at the very least have a long-term succession plan in place.
  • Documented Policies & Procedures – This may seem like a boring checklist item, but our experience suggests that an organization without documented policies and procedures is highly unlikely to “get to the next level.”  There are many reasons why this is missing, and most of them end with “…and who has the time to do any of that?”  A model of distributed leadership can never be fully implemented if the organization lacks a framework for how work gets done.  As consultants, we always ask to see the Organizational Handbook (or Board Handbook) at the start of an engagement.  It is one of the top predictors of future success.
  • Evidence/Documented Results – The fact is that anecdotal evidence doesn’t cut it in an increasingly competitive nonprofit marketplace.  Emerging organizations push back on the idea that they can have documented evidence “with so little budget,” and we would argue that this excuse is not sufficient. It means the programming was not designed with a way to measure the impact to begin with, and a start-up organization cannot afford to run programming that has no defined assessment criteria.  Program fidelity is a must.
  • Quality Marketing Efforts – A certain local marketing professional and I share the belief that one of the biggest reasons nonprofit organizations fail is that they spend so little on marketing.  No other business model could possibly expect to be successful spending as little as nonprofits do.  For the emerging nonprofit, we look more at the savviness in the marketing effort than the dollars spent on it. Does the nonprofit understand segmentation?  Is their messaging human-centered, and are they creative in how they tell their story?  An all-volunteer effort is fine in the early years, but it has to be done well otherwise future success is not a given.

We could come up with another dozen or so, but the goal here is to provide readers with a way to quickly assess start-ups, less as a way to evaluate the impact of their current efforts and more toward the long-term likelihood for sustainability and growth.

Next time, we’ll tackle Niche Organizations.  In the meantime, please share your thoughts on Facebook: www.facebook.com/NextStageConsultingNC/

Just starting this series? Read the other installments here:

Overview: The Community Social Impact Portfolio
Emerging Organizations
Niche Organizations
Imported Organizations
Blue Chip Organizations

JoshJosh Jacobson is Managing Director of Next Stage Consulting, a Charlotte-based firm focused on organizational development and fund development for the nonprofit sector. Next Stage Consulting provides organizations access to affordable, high-quality consulting services to help them “get to the next level.” Josh is a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) and is President Elect for the Charlotte Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Image Copyright : Thuansak Srilao