Editor's Note: Advancing Mission Thrivability is an opportunity presented by The Patterson Foundation for regional nonprofits to learn a mission-centric, economically informed approach to decision-making for their programs, products, and services. Participating organizations are introduced to this decision-making approach over a series of online learning opportunities led by No Margin, No Mission, a national consulting firm and social enterprise. Following the online sessions, organizations with demonstrated interest, opportunity, and preparedness to dive deeper into the work have the chance to receive 1:1 consulting support from No Margin, No Mission.
The early days of a nonprofit can feel like a sprint in multiple directions. Every opportunity could be promising. The more you accomplish toward your mission, the more opportunities come your way. Then there’s a point where you need to decide which 100-yard dash should become a marathon. Input from your board and your volunteers is vital, but this is also the time for new perspectives.
For FUNducation, that fresh point of view came in the form of The Patterson Foundation’s Advancing Mission Thrivability initiative. The opportunity for Executive Director Neirda Thompson-Pemberton and members of the board to work with Larry Clark, managing partner and principal of No Margin, No Mission, was invaluable. Across five weeks of one-on-one consulting, we delved into ways to make decisions about our programs that are both economically informed and mission-centric.
Among the most valuable exercises was conducting a SWOT analysis. Reflecting on each of FUNducation’s programs through the lens of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats provided new insights even in established areas. We also gained from seeing how each program fit into a matrix of high or low impact on our double bottom line of mission and sustainability through earned income. With that information, we can successfully fulfill our mission by assembling the right mix of each.
Now FUNducation has new and shared frameworks and vocabulary for making decisions about which STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) opportunities we should pursue for underserved youth in Manatee-Sarasota as well as where it is important to persist. Drones? Esports? Robotics? Digital literacy? Which established programs do we emphasize, and how do we approach an emerging area?
Participating in the Advancing Mission Thrivability program gives FUNducation a boost as we consider each.
The innovators of tomorrow are counting on us to get it right.