JOB OPENING: Operations Associate

Capacity Partners is a growing, full-service consulting firm serving nonprofits primarily in Greater Washington. We provide a range of customized services including strategic planning, fundraising, board development, leadership coaching, and management consulting. We are a dedicated and fun group of professionals who love helping our clients achieve transformative results.

Job Summary
Capacity Partners seeks a proactive, detail-oriented, and conscientious team player with a passion for nonprofits. The Operations Associate will play a key role in supporting the firm’s operations including the specific needs of the president; in providing both administrative and more advanced support to client work; and in growing our business development. The Associate will also play a key role in special projects and initiatives.

The ideal candidate will be someone who excels at operations, loves systems, and brings an exceptional client service ethic. The top candidate must have strong oral and written communication skills with an eye for detail and a positive, “can-do” attitude.

Major Responsibilities
Operational Support
• Serve as executive associate to the firm’s president, helping with her appointments, client work, proposals, and other activities
• Oversee firm logistics
• Help develop and improve the firm’s organizational systems
• Provide support on Zoom and other virtual platforms
• Provide administrative support to consultants

Client Support
• Set up new client accounts and organize projects
• For assigned clients, prepare agendas, attend meetings, take formal notes
• Design and administer surveys
• Help conduct prospect research (training provided)
• Prepare final client deliverables

Business Development
• Draft and customize proposals in response to potential client inquiries
• Track and monitor firm leads and prospects using Pipedrive software
• Monitor, manage and/or participate in outreach to target audiences as assigned

Qualifications and Requirements
• Ability to work 30-40 hours per week during standard work hours, virtually at first, post-pandemic in office based in Bethesda, MD
• Bachelor’s degree
• Superb organizational skills with meticulous attention to detail
• Strong client service ethic
• Resourcefulness and proactive problem-solving skills in a fast-paced and dynamic work environment
• Excellent writing skills
• Flexibility and ability to reprioritize activities as needed
• Expertise with MS Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint and Zoom
• Comfortable learning new software and systems
• Experience using social media platforms

Disclaimer:
This position description is only a summary of the typical functions of the job, not an exhaustive or comprehensive list of all possible job responsibilities, tasks, and duties. The actual responsibilities, tasks and duties may be different from those outlined above and other duties, as assigned, may be part of the job.

How to Apply
To apply, please send cover letter and resume to search@capacitypartners.com. Please put OPERATIONS ASSOCIATE in the subject line. Applicants determined to meet the qualifications and requirements for this position will be contacted by a member of our recruitment team. Note that the interview process may require the candidate to complete skills testing (MS Word, Excel, and PowerPoint).

Capacity Partners is an Equal Opportunity Employer and does not discriminate on the basis of gender, race, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, national origin, or previous affiliation. All interested are encouraged to apply.


How Coaching Can Make You a More Intuitive Leader and a More Creative Innovator

If someone offered you a magic elixir that would increase productivity, improve communications, deepen staff commitment, decrease stress, develop a culture of trust, prevent burnout, better manage risk, and leverage your personal power, wouldn’t you buy it?

Leadership coaching is that elixir, and contrary to what many may believe, it’s not only for those who aren’t performing as well as might be expected; it’s also for those who want to take their leadership from very good to extraordinary or for those who are experiencing significant challenges (like running a nonprofit during a pandemic and recession.)

A national nonprofit leader recently worked with one of Capacity Partners’ leadership coaches, Louise Stoner Crawford, and said, “I feel like a better person as a result of my coaching experience….the positive changes are showing up in all of my relationships in my life….work, family, and friends.  This speaks to the transformative power of coaching and the dramatic effect that this can have on individuals and our communities.”

Coaching can develop those leadership qualities that have been empirically proven to be associated with success. These include: cognitive capacity, social capacities, personality style, motivation, knowledge. Focused on the future, not the past, the right leadership coach can enhance performance, build confidence, and help tackle difficult problems.

One leader Jeanine Cogan worked with for years said, "Leadership coaching is a wonderful source of support for me - smart, wise, and compassionate. I had obstacles that were getting in the way of my success. Jeanine helped me identify, understand, and address those obstacles so I could get out of my own way."

Here’s what the experts who study leadership coaching say:

  • Coaching dramatically improves working relationships, resulting in a 5:1 return on investment.
  • Return on training that is paired with coaching can be productivity increases of up to 88% – four times the increase without coaching.
  • When a leader is unsuccessful and derails from their position, it typically costs an organization 150% of salary. This figure is in addition to productivity loss and team disruption.

How does leadership coaching work? Through one-to-one conversations – conversations that can happen remotely in this era of Covid – a leadership coach will help you or your key staff members move past an impasse, learn new skills, and work through communication challenges. Leadership coaches are not therapists; they are sounding boards, guides, and problem-solvers.

But leadership coaching isn’t for everyone. It works best when someone has a genuine desire to learn and grow. People who tend to blame others for their failures or act as victims rarely benefit from leadership coaching

 Of course, a good fit is essential; the ineffable chemistry between two people must be right to build the trust required for optimal results. You don’t want just any leadership coach – you want an experienced, savvy, personable coach whose only focus is meeting your goals.

Capacity Partners has two outstanding coaches – Louise Stoner Crawford and Jeanine Cogan – who are ready to help you, your key staff, and your board members meet the unique challenges of leading a nonprofit organization in 2020.  Want to learn more? Louise and Jeanine would be delighted to chat with you. Simply email them at louise@capacitypartners.com and jeanine@capacitypartners.com.

 


The future of fundraising

“Giving Plunges 6% in First Quarter” “Number of donors dropped by 5.3 percent”. “25 billion in lost revenue for nonprofits”

The headlines about the latest Giving USA study are scary, but do they portend an apocalyptic future?

Capacity Partners is encouraged that donations under $250 rose by six percent during the first quarter of 2020. We also know of some nonprofits that saw their coffers swell during the pandemic; organizations providing disaster relief and pandemic-related services have seen a surge in generosity. Organizations focused on racial equity are also seeing an upswing in contributions. Of course, other organizations are realizing mergers might be their only salvation as they watch income plummet.

Foundations are still making grants, but many are shifting funding to emergency relief for basic human needs, making it harder for arts groups to get funding.  Organizations who were hoping for a grant for projects such as strategic planning may also find it more difficult to get support.

So far, virtual events are more successful than anyone thought they would be.  Hopefully that stays true as virtual events remain the norm for the foreseeable future.  It is difficult to imagine any in-person events being held for the rest of 2020, and maybe even the first part of 2021.

Right now, the rising stock market should result in major donors feeling comfortable keeping their commitments, but as we know from past experience, the market is capricious and as the economic recovery chugs along with a high unemployment rate, that could change. As furloughs become layoffs and as special unemployment benefits run out, budgets could tighten with less money available for charitable giving.

Fortunately, local and federal government grants and loans have kept many nonprofits whole in FY21; the question is what happens in FY22 as disaster relief programs end and government budgets are slashed due to revenue shortfalls.

In general, most corporations will be decreasing contributions, either cutting out all or a portion of many of their sponsorships. Capacity Partners predicts the effect on revenue will likely be in the second half of the fiscal year.

So much about future fundraising is uncertain; actually, so much about the nation’s future is uncertain. Covid-19 will be forefront in everyone’s minds for many months. The economy will remain fragile until coronavirus is controlled. Politics and the November election will generate stress-inducing headlines. All this is true, but equally true is the remarkable power of resiliency, caring, and determination.

Our advice? Stay close to your best donors. Stewardship is more important than ever. Don’t forget to give some of your attention to new donors, too.

In 2019, even though it feels like a lifetime ago, charitable giving showed solid growth, climbing to $449.64 billion, making that year one of the highest for giving. Capacity Partners believes that in good times and in bad, people will donate to the causes they believe are critical. Mary Robinson, Founder and President of Capacity Partners says, “Yes, even in a pandemic and in a period where unpredictability is the only thing one can accurately predict, people will give to the causes they care about.”

In a couple of weeks, we will be conducting a survey of nonprofit leaders to enable us to do a deep dive into the current state of the nonprofit sector in the DC metro area. We hope you'll participate in this brief survey so we can better understand the current situation and make recommendations to nonprofits as they navigate these unprecedented times.


Fundraising in these unsettled times

The world feels unsettled as our news feeds and lives fill with protests against pervasive racial inequity, a powerful and capricious virus that affects nearly everything, and an economy officially in recession. As nonprofits know better than anyone, this is a situation ripe for an increased demand for services while boards of directors and development staff fret over fundraising. Here are some tips to help you and your nonprofit organization raise the money you need.

1) Tell your story well and tell it often. Your donors -- both individual and institutional -- need to hear how you are making a difference under these unique circumstances. Use a variety of methods -- emails, social media, videos, Zoom calls, phone calls, etc. While it's always important to be a good donor steward, it's especially critical in uncertain times like these.

2) A matching gift can boost fundraising efforts. Perhaps your board will chip in to create a matching gift fund. Perhaps a long-term contributor will agree to a matching fund. The prospect of doubling a donation may help motivate on-the-fence supporters.

3) Avoid emergency, desperate requests for funds. You may not be sleeping as you obsessively pore over spreadsheets, but this is not the moment to share your anxiety with an anguished plea for money. Convey realistic optimism rather than panic.

4) Don't pre-judge your supporters. Don't assume they no longer have funds to give or won't appreciate hearing from you. Give your contributors the chance to show you how much they treasure your organization's mission.

5) Focus your time and efforts on current or past donors.because some organizations, especially those not providing direct coronavirus or racial inequity services, may find it more difficult to attract new donors right now.

The last three months have shown how many organizations are continuing to raise money effectively. Some are even surpassing their goals ... and not just disaster relief organizations. Some of our clients' events are hitting record highs, and some are getting generous grants. Unfortunately, some nonprofits are still having a tough time. Recovery will be an ever-evolving process so stay nimble — and ask.


Big challenges and big opportunities for the arts community

The arts have never been more important than they are today. They bring joy, act as a healing force, and educate the young and old. The arts are a key component of the economy and an important community partner as we recover and reinvent our world after the pandemic.

On May 22, Capacity Partners Founder and President Mary Robinson was honored to join Anne Corbett of Building Creative and Linda Sullivan, President & CEO of ARTSFairfax  for an ARTSFairfax webinar focused on planning for what’s next in the Fairfax County arts community in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The challenges that organizations have faced over the last two months are extreme.  Arts organizations, and really most nonprofits, are losing revenue, facing staff layoffs, and shifting strategies in how work gets done.  However, with every challenge comes an opportunity.

As Mary Robinson noted during the webinar, to maintain organizational viability over the long term, organizations should use Dynamic Planning to create three, six, and twelve-month plans. Starting with the formation of a Dynamic Planning committee, organizations would then use the iterative Dynamic Planning process to reaffirm their mission, asses their strengths and weaknesses, and conduct scenario planning, identifying multiple scenarios and solutions.

For example, Capacity Partners client Arts for the Aging was committed to keeping their teaching artists on salary during the pandemic, despite cancelling all in-person workshops. The team of teaching artists has now activated multiple distance and virtual programs to continue serving their audience of older adults and their caregivers. Although the method of program delivery has changed, Arts for the Aging’s mission remains front and center.

Anne Corbett stressed arts organizations have a unique opportunity to be leaders in community resiliency and reinvention, utilizing multiple partnerships, audience engagement, and advocacy opportunities.

Some of the ideas discussed on the webinar include:

  • Partnering with a food bank to include art kits in food boxes
  • Partnering with real estate developers to bring outdoor art or performances in a socially distant and safe manner
  • Producing virtual theatre or art shows and partnering with a restaurant or catering company to deliver a meal to patrons participating at home. (This would also work for virtual fundraising events.)

Webinar participant Lisa LaCamera, Senior Director, Communications & Marketing at Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts, said, “People are realizing the healing nature of the arts in times of crisis. People all over the world appreciate the need for the arts to get through this.”

Capacity Partners encourages arts organizations – and all nonprofits – to embrace the opportunities, confront the fear, create the plan, and move ahead to our next normal. The canvas of opportunity lies in front of all of us, and Capacity Partners stands ready to support you if you need a jump start.


How Dynamic Planning Can Help you Chart a Course During this Unprecedented Time

Dynamic PlanningBefore coronavirus, a strategic plan was enough to navigate the future, but now that we’re dealing with a pandemic and recession (or even a depression), nonprofit leaders need a different way to think about planning that builds in the agility and creativity required during these extraordinary times. And that different way is the fast-paced, flexible Capacity Partners® Framework for Dynamic Planning.

Dynamic Planning sets up a process of regular reassessment during a time of significant change; COVID-19 now, but it could also be unexpected leadership turnover, security breaches, or a sudden major drop in funding. It may seem like two steps forward, one step back for a time, but through an iterative process, boards of directors and staff can use Dynamic Planning to lead their organizations through a rapidly-changing environment and onto the “next normal.”

We’ve identified four stages in Dynamic Planning. In Stage One, you quickly develop a Response Plan that enables your organization to react to a crisis in a purely tactical fashion. While Mission, Vision, and Values still ground your organization, this is the “oh no, what is happening?” stage. During the current COVID-19 crisis, organizations transitioned to telework, assessed cash flows, and set up a response team to keep the organization functioning.

Some organizations are now in Stage Two, or Monitoring. During this stage, you remain flexible to manage ongoing change and adjust your response plan quickly. Focus tends to be operational, and board leadership is critical as your organization figures out funding and strategic direction. You may need to make hard choices about staffing and delivery of your services. Don’t forget to keep your funders and key stakeholders in the loop—communication remains vital to relationships, especially as you continue to pivot.

While adjusting operations and serving the immediate needs of your stakeholders can be all-consuming, at some point you must focus on your future—your “next normal.”  This is what we call Stage Three – Planning Ahead. For some, planning ahead will involve moderate changes to an existing strategic direction; others will need to reinvent their business models significantly.

Your board and key staff will create a series of scenarios based on hypotheticals about what the future holds and different courses of action. You will lay out plans for multiple options since projections in this unprecedented time will often be wrong. Will we have a winter spike or a quick vaccine? When will people be comfortable attending in-person programs and meetings?  Will the financial impact of one scenario vs. another be so great that we will need to revise our services, consider a merger, or dramatically reimagine our future?

The end result of this strategic thinking will be a Dynamic Plan lasting six to twelve months. Those organizations that think strategically and are open to reinventing themselves as necessary will be the ones that not only recover but rebound.

Finally, in Stage Four, Transition, you are ready implement the Dynamic Plan you created in Stage Three. Since the path of COVID-19 and the economic recovery remain so uncertain, you will likely unfold your Dynamic Plan in stages, staying flexible and prepared to pivot as the world continually changes.

Organizational VitalityAs you work your way through the four stages, it is critical that you examine the impact on all facets of your organization, including your culture, stakeholders (board, staff, donors, volunteers, and clients), fundraising, finances, marketing, communications, programs, and technology. As part of our Dynamic Planning Framework, Capacity Partners has created pragmatic worksheets for every stage of the process.

Through Dynamic Planning, your transition will be based on clear thinking, and like a sailboat, tacking to your ultimate destination, you will arrive at a future that advances your mission and enhances your organization.

Capacity Partners’ expert consultants can help your organization use Dynamic Planning to ensure your continued success during these unparalleled times. For a copy of our worksheet or more information on our services, please contact us at info@capacitypartners.com or (240) 462-5151

 

(And click here if you'd like to listen to a short, informative webinar on Dynamic Planning in the Time of Covid-19 and Beyond.)


Crafting your spring appeal during Covid-19

By Capacity Partners Consultant Kristen Engebretsen and Capacity Partners Associate Stephanie Hanson

 

In January, you had just come back from the holidays, and planning for your spring appeal was well underway. Now, after a month of fundraising during a pandemic, you’re likely asking the question, “Should we still do a spring appeal, and if so, how?”

Capacity Partners recommends you should still raise funds through your annual spring appeal, especially if you have not yet reached your goal. However, your messaging may need to change, and how it changes depends on your organization’s mission, sector, and whom you serve.

Here are a few strategies and tactics to help you build a successful campaign:

Keep your message positive and place impact front and center. It is important to acknowledge the strange and difficult times caused by the coronavirus pandemic, but you should be sure your overall message is positive. Even if your organization is in a crisis, link your appeal to your organization’s long-term strategy, using language like “with your support and partnership, together we can [fill in the immediate impact made].”  This is not the time to be fundraising for a special “nice to have” project. Instead, positively demonstrate both the need and impact while making a clear and compelling ask.

Join #GivingTuesday, the global campaign for charitable giving, for a special spring edition.  #GivingTuesdayNow is designating Tuesday, May 5, 2020 as a day of unity in support of the unprecedented need created by covid-19. Download a campaign toolkit, including ideas, graphics, and social media hashtags on the Giving Tuesday website.
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Play off the idea of spring rejuvenation with your appeal—spring is a time for growth, and flowers are still blooming, even in a global health crisis.

Think about whom you are trying to reach. Is a mail appeal and/or a digital campaign going to best reach your audience? While some of your donors are struggling, others are grateful to be employed and are looking for ways to give back right now. Look at your donor list and segment it according to which groups would be most receptive to an appeal at this moment. Consider using one of the many online giving platform options to get your message out digitally, and combine that with regular social media postings. Engage your organization’s board and closest friends to help push the message out.  Who knows – you might gain some new donors in the process.

Some funders are offering matching funds right now as a way to support their grantees. Contact your top ten funders and ask if they’d be willing to conduct a match with you right now. Or, look for local matching opportunities, like this impressive list from the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

Be sure to include CARES Act language and the new charitable tax deduction in your spring appeal, noting that all donors who give during this time will receive a tax break, whether or not they take the standard deduction. Specific language can be found here.

Capacity Partners is prepared to help you in any way we can. Our job, quite simply, is to help you do yours in this extraordinary environment.


Things you’ll need to apply for a Paycheck Protection Loan

You'll need to gather the following documents before you apply for your coronavirus stimulus Paycheck Protection Loan which is an SBA loan that helps businesses and nonprofits keep their workforce employed during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

  • Payroll reports from April '19 through March '20 – both the total payroll numbers for those months and each month separately, as you have to load them individually
  • A picture of the principle owner's government ID
  • Date organization founded
  • Proof of EIN
  • NAICS number
  • CEO’s date of birth, Social Security Number, home address, and cell phone number
  • Documentation of health insurance paid and life insurance policies paid into
  • The last 4 quarters of 941 tax documentation


Emergency Grants for Operations Available

March 26, 2020

To our Friends and Partners,

I know that we all have received a huge amount of information in the last days about government support of the small business and non-profit community.

For Maryland non-profits with budgets of less than $5 million and less than 50 employees, we suggest that you take a look at the Maryland Small Business Covid-19 Emergency Relief Fund.  The State has allocated $75 million for direct payments of up to $10,000 to help organizations respond to Covid-19's impact.

https://onestop.md.gov/licenses?utf8=%E2%9C%93&q=emergency+small+business+grant

You will need to set up a registration before starting the application.  If we at Capacity Partners can be helpful to you in the process, please let me know.

Best wishes,

Barbara Wille, Partner Consultant


Leading a Nonprofit in a Pandemic

March 16, 2020

When times are tough, leaders step up. And these are unprecedented times. We are each called to be a leader now, whether in our roles as nonprofit executive directors, fundraisers, business owners, parents of young children, or children of older parents.

The path forward is unclear but the one thing I do know with absolute certainty is that the unique strengths of nonprofits and your steadfast commitment to serving our community will enable us to weather this crisis. Our nonprofit organizations will serve as bastions of strength in a wobbly world, and Capacity Partners is prepared to help you in any way we can. Our job, quite simply, is to help you do yours in this extraordinary moment in history.

How do you maintain community while social distancing? What are the best practices for donor stewardship during a pandemic? Are there tips to help employees, who now have children home for weeks, do their work effectively? How do you turn a live event into a virtual one?  Because the situation is incredibly fluid, solutions devised on Monday may be outdated by Thursday.

Below are some thoughts and ideas from some of our team members that we hope will help you.  Please keep sending me your questions at mary@capacitypartners.com, and we will respond.

Additionally, to assist our nonprofit clients, Capacity Partners would like to offer a free hour of consulting with one of our team members during the coronavirus pandemic. If you’re interested, please send me an email at mary@capacitypartners.com.  

Mary RobinsonCapacity Partners Founder & President

Ideas and tips for managing a nonprofit during this pandemic

The Capacity Partners team put their heads together (virtually, of course) and developed these suggestions for development, donor stewardship, communication, and management.

Donor Stewardship and Communication

  • The one lesson of the Great Recession is the importance of staying in touch with your donors. Email them, or better yet, call. Ask how they are doing. What do they need? Can your organization support them? If so, how?
  • Be in direct personal contact with your most important donors with a brief overview of the basics, including if you are closed, how staff is working, if your service area is directly affected, how you are maintaining the highest level of service possible, etc. Remember it is fine to admit you don’t have a particular answer or that your organization is still working to solve a problem. Asking your donors for advice will also keep them engaged.
  • During this difficult time, start gathering and collecting the stories of how your constituents are making a difference in others’ lives. You’ll want to share these stories in any post-crisis reports and in your annual report. The crisis will pass, but these stories of help, determination, and endurance will live on.
  • Most people want access and information — and if your organization can manage to give your closest friends important information it can strengthen your connection to them.
  • Be prepared for the question “What can I do to help” with both a volunteer option and a financial support option.

Industry-Specific Advice

While each organization has its own unique mission, here are some industry-specific tips for keeping your donors and stakeholders informed and engaged.

  • Healthcare and human services organization – Tell your community how you are responding and supporting the community through the COVID-19 pandemic.  Ask your donors to help you continue to serve our community during this stressful time when your services are more important than ever.
  • Arts organization – Can you uplift your community through social media or sharing performance videos on your website? If you have had to cancel performances, ask your ticket buyers to support the arts by donating the cost of their ticket instead.
  • Education – Discuss how you are transitioning learning to online platforms and ask your community to support this complex endeavor.
  • Environment – Give actionable and timely advice and tips for how our community can save, conserve, and share resources even in an unknown and shifting world. Remind donors the importance of your mission in good times and in bad.
  • Association – Provide timely support, news, and helpful resources to your members during this time. If appropriate, ask for support, but if your members are also nonprofit organizations, think about how you can help them increase their fundraising.

Fundraising

  • Be transparent and ask for financial support for what you truly need at this time – keeping people employed, emergency needs, etc. We’ve seen that if the request is for immediate, essential expenditures, organizations have been successful.
  • People are looking for ways to help, and when they can donate online, it can give them the opportunity to do something positive and community-centered. Giving to a cause they care about can provide a feeling of control during a situation that seems quite out of control.
  • How do you raise money when people are nervous? Many of your donors are watching their stock portfolios rise and fall with each new day. At the first turn of national good news — when the media announces a reduction in cases, when people begin to recover and return to public life from social isolation — that’s the time to be ready with your message:  “We are encouraged … our organization is even more committed to … we hope you will join us in … thank you for your continued support … etc.” Sensitivity, empathy, and timing are critical to ensure you get your contributions back on track.

Management

  • Communicate schedules and availability ahead of time, and if possible, try to find times each day to connect virtually with staff. Don’t forget to include your board, too.
  • Be creative in working with other organizations. Now is not the time to compete; now is the time to collaborate.
  • Lean on your trusted advisors – ask questions, test ideas, think long-term, and listen to feedback.
  • R​ely on the passions and instincts that brought you to this work and has kept you in it.
  • Use the time to plan and get done all those tasks that never seem to make it to the top of your list.
    • Make phone calls you’ve been meaning to make—thank you to board members, to a community friend who offered ideas or resources for a recent project; check ins with community members who’ve reached out are just some examples.
    • Dust off that strategic plan to evaluate the progress you’ve made and identify next steps.
    • Revisit your governance structure and update those board policies, bylaws, and succession plans.
    • Book that introductory phone call with an executive coach.
    • Send a hand-written note to a thought leader you admire who might just find your organization the cause she’s been looking for to support.