Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Creating a Community Centered Organization

I took a community organizing course this summer taught by Mike Eikler, Director of Consensus Organizing Center at San Diego State University and who wrote the book Consensus Organizing Building Communities of Mutual Self Interest.

My project for the class was with the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network San Diego. My parter for the class project was Luanne, Executive Director of the Japanese Friendship Garden San Diego.

Luanne and I were interesting in finding out: "What does it mean to run a community centered organization that meets the needs of our members?"

In order to answer this question we engaged in the consensus organizing process. First, we interviewed the board members of YNPN to find out their capacities, self-interests and needs.

The top four capacities and self-interests were:
  • Fundraising abilities and other nonprofit management capabilities.
  • Representing nonprofits that have a variety of connections and collaborations within the nonprofit community and beyond.
  • Networking with other nonprofit professionals even competitors.
  • Meeting with other nonprofit professionals on a regular basis to discover potential resources and skills to serve their own organizations and the community more effectively.
The top four common needs were:
  • Technology
  • Personal Communications and Marketing skills
  • Wellness
  • Working with Seasoned Nonprofit Professionals/Mentors
Then based on those capacities, self-interests and needs, Luanne and I interviewed people and organizations in the community that we thought might be able to meet the specific needs of young professionals--listed above. When we spoke to these individuals and organizations our goal was to find mutually beneficial scenarios and potential partnerships. It was amazing how many organizations are interested in partnering with YNPN San Diego!

In conclusion, our recommendations to YNPN were to fully utilize the Capacities, Capabilities, and Connections of YNPN members as well as create mutually benefical partnerships in the community.

So, last night at our board meeting we formed a partnership committee that will be figuring out the process and structure for engaging in these potential new partnerships in mutually benefical scenarios. Our goal is to not create YNPN in a silo, but to involve the community every step of the process. I think we are on our way!

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