Planting the seeds for trained nonprofit partnership consultants

Posted on October 19, 2011 by Pam Truitt

[caption id="attachment_224" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="L to R: Vance Yoshida (La Piana), Pam Truitt (TPF), Joel Freedman, Jim Penrod, Amy Kimball-Murley, Greg Bobonich, Jana Ertrachter, Betsy Steiner, Bill Ferguson, Jim Dixon, Maria Markham (La Piana), Jerry Wilterding, Robert Skolnik, Bob Hawkins, Margaret Linnane, Bob Harrington (La Piana)"][/caption]

When it launched its vision and focus, The Patterson Foundation (TPF) distinguished itself from the get-go by completing an exhaustive environmental scan and then applying critical thinking to determine what it will offer to create new realities.

Out of this thinking, the Collaborative Restructuring Initiative (CRI) was born.  How does CRI fit into TPF’s critical thinking? By having the flexibility, opportunity and responsibility to take on work that others are not, cannot or will not do. Read on to find out what TPF and Johnny Appleseed have in common.

Last week 12 consultants from Jacksonville, Miami, Sarasota, Orlando, Venice and Bradenton arrived in Sarasota for three days of intensive training from La Piana Consulting in the collaborative restructuring field.  A few months earlier, they completed 1-1/2 days of training.   La Piana is the only firm that TPF is aware of that offers training to consultants. This is huge for everyone in the space!

You may be asking yourself what is so special about the consultants or the training.  Remember the phrase from above—TPF has the flexibility, opportunity and responsibility to do what others are not, cannot or will not do.

After learning from other foundations that are in this space, TPF has observed that foundations may not have an appreciation for how difficult the work of nonprofit partnerships is….or how much training and support consultants need.

As Initiative Manager, I have gone through the training and emphatically state that, at least in the beginning, I could not do this work alone.  In addition to learning and being skillful in the technical aspects (organization content, revenue streams, federal regulations, board governance, human resource, legal and financial due diligence, as examples), consultants must be effective facilitators, understand how to deal with difficult personalities, handle icebergs that invariably surface, guide discussions when appropriate and keep the process moving without favoring one organization over the other.   If Wonder Woman were facilitating a nonprofit merger, she would need help!

TPF and the consultants are making an investment in the Florida collaborative restructuring space. Collaboratively, we are planting apple seeds, knowing that with proper support strong and stable apple trees will emerge. As the consultants move forward in their learning journey— including sharing their learnings, mentoring and apprenticing with each other, TPF will support their journey by periodically bringing them together.

The seeds were planted last week and journey has begun.

Please share your thoughts about TPF’s role in this process!

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


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