Measuring progress and impact through communications, finance and technology

Posted on October 06, 2011 by Pam Truitt

This marks blog No. 30 for The Patterson Foundation’s (TPF) Collaborative Restructuring Initiative and a time for ‘spections’….intro and retro….

I arrived in the blogging world kicking and screaming, made all the more frightening by the expectation to produce a weekly blog.

In my mind, this scenario was playing out……“So, what exciting projects are you involved with these days Pam??”  'I’m a bl-bl-bl-blog-blogger.' ”

I like to keep my cards close to the vest and was panicked at the thought of sharing my personal thoughts and opinions with the world. My best delay tactic was constructing a wall of excuses, affording me a few months of time. One day, while pouring a cup of coffee, I got fixated on a quote painted on the wall, one that I’d seen many times:

If you want to win the swim meet you must get in the water.*

The cosmic universe opened. I stopped the belly-aching, burned the wall of excuses and got in the water. Thank goodness The Patterson Foundation's President and CEO Debra Jacobs is a patient woman who gently encouraged me. Yes, she’s a blogger, too!

With 29 under my belt and one in the hopper, I’m ready for a self-assessment of the Collaborative Restructuring Initiative over the past 17 months (its birth and my hiring). I’m going to reflect on the journey through TPF’s lenses: communications, technology and financial thrivability.  Readers not familiar with the cool way in which TPF uses lenses will be enlightened by a recent blog by Debra Jacobs.

Let’s kick off the conversation with Communications, and I’ll address financial thrivability in the next bl-bl-bl-blog.


Blogging.  Who knew?!!!  If all knowledge is local, how will we create connective tissue to learn and share?  The blog platform allows knowledge to move from local silos to the open network.  Readers (thank you!) know that I focus on collaborative restructuring, but post an array of articles, experiences, information, opinions, thoughts and questions.

A blog can be a stream of consciousness, a personal journey, a diary, a medium to store valuable information you may later need or some combination. Here are three examples of how the CRI blog has advanced a key TPF tenant —share what we're learning:

  • The Foundation Center, a virtual library for the philanthropy world, has been assembling nonprofit partnership resources and recently added CRI’s website and blog links. What’s the impact?  The thousands of folks who search the Foundation Center’s website now have access to what TPF is learning along with others in the collaborative restructuring ‘space’.
  • Three chamber of commerce organizations in the Nashville area contacted TPF to ask for a proposal to facilitate their merger. When we inquired as to how the chambers found us, we learned that a person involved in the process read one of my blogs on the importance of a third-party facilitator. What’s the impact?  I connected with them, provided leads for them to follow and asked if they would be willing to write a guest blog about their journey.
  • All TPF blogs are posted on Facebook and Twitter. I also post my blogs on the Collaborative Consultants (a group of Florida consultants interested in nonprofit partnerships) Facebook page. What’s the impact? These postings are reposted, followed and retweeted. In other words, word gets around.

Seventeen months ago, I would have failed the trivia test if you’d asked me about a blog or Twitter. I didn’t know about lenses. I didn’t know how to use the Communications Lens to advance an efficient and effective nonprofit. Today I know. I can’t wait to find out what I learn tomorrow!

Any bl-bl-bloggers out there?  What’s your experience?

*Gene Witt, community leader and former Manatee County School Superintendent is credited with the sage advice.

  • Learn about these and other concepts used in TPF's approach to philanthropy.


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