For once I would like to enter autumn feeling on top of things: my client work mapped out for the year, a clear understanding of how to meet my remaining annual goals in these next four months, and my kids’ school activities listed in my calendar. I would like to look fabulous in a wardrobe of “fall transitional clothes,” rather than resemble Eric Carle’s Mixed-Up Chameleon in some crazy combo of flip-flops, cotton dresses, and wool sweaters. So I’ve decided to implement a three-step process to solve my fall dilemma: Purge, Plan, Reward. I’m going to block out three solid days in the next month to: Purge: Out with the old (or the stressful, or the irrelevant) before starting something new. … Continue reading Purge, Plan, Reward: Your 3-Step Process for Getting Anything Done Quickly
I believe foundations could save time, solve problems more efficiently, and add greater value if their senior leadership would think like consultants. Let me explain: Most consultants work on a time-and-materials basis, meaning that they have an hourly rate. Foundation leaders who hire those consultants deem the value of their work worth that fee. However, foundation leaders rarely calculate the cost and value of their own staff’s time — which is a pretty simple thing to do. Let’s say the annual salary of a senior program officer at your foundation is $100,000. Let’s assume her annual benefits are 25 percent, so now you are at $125,000. There are 2,080 working hours per year, so if you divide $125,000 by 2,080 … Continue reading Grantmakers Should Think Like Consultants
No one likes to feel left out or overlooked, and when key stakeholders feel that way, the results can be painful and long lasting. I recently conducted a focus group of community leaders who expressed serious concerns about the lack of communication within a significant regional initiative. When I asked the group what could be done to fix this, another participant said something I’ll never forget: “Communications need to be top-down, bottom-up, inside out, and all around.” I think that sums up the components of an effective communications plan. The next time you launch a new grantmaking program or initiative for any issue, think through these four aspects of your communication needs so that none of your key stakeholders feels … Continue reading The 4 Dimensions of a Successful Communications Plan
It’s easy to get mired in the way things have always been done, and sometimes it leaves us blind to our customers’ real needs. So take a moment and ask yourself one critical question: Who is my customer? In my experience this is a question that most foundations simply don’t ask themselves. I was talking last week with a funder client (let’s call her Mary) who said that a big lesson she learned is that they should give their applicants more time to respond to a request for proposal. They had only given their applicants about a month; during that month, the applicant had to decide whether and how to apply jointly with other organizations that were also invited, prepare … Continue reading Who Is Your Customer?
We often devise complex solutions to problems, when the best solution is usually the simplest. For example, many economically struggling urban cities desperately try to devise strategies to create bustling downtown neighborhoods where people actually want to spend time. Cleveland, near where I live, is one such community that has spent recent decades trying to do this. Recently I had a few moments in downtown Cleveland to catch my breath between meetings, and came across this urban plaza filled with pick-up corn hole games. I watched dozens of people, likely on their lunch break, having a blast playing corn hole (for those of you unfamiliar with the game, you essentially toss small bean bags into a hole cut out of … Continue reading Keep It Simple