Movement Building and Collective Impact

In an article written for Fast Company, Kaihan Krisppendorff, identifies four steps to building an effective social movement, which I have adapted below:

1. A community forms around a common goal or aspiration.
2. The community mobilizes its resources to act on the goal/aspiration.
3. The community crafts solutions and acts to deliver them.
4. The movement is accepted by (or actually replaces) the establishment or established regime of laws and policies (Source).

If you are involved in a collective impact initiative, these steps should resonate with you, in particular with the five conditions of collective impact.  Krisppendorff doesn’t address shared measurement in his post about social movements, but successful movements are always about moving the needle and bringing about systems change to do so.

Consider the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. in 1964; the Civil Rights Act rendered discrimination/segregation illegal, especially with respect to jobs and workplace advancement, and termination because of colour. States that did nothing to address discrimination lost federal funding. There were other impacts but you get the gist. Big change for sure.

As is often the case, the big changes that get made fuel additional change. In 1965, the Voting Rights Act, addressed the legal obstacles (e.g. literacy tests and poll taxes) that state and local governments had set up to stop African Americans from exercising their constitutional right to vote.

Passed in August of 1965, by the end of the year 250,000 African Americans had registered to vote. The impact of such systemic and legal change was likely felt the most in the hearts and minds of African Americans, but from strictly a numbers perspective, here is one stat that exemplifies the impact: “In Mississippi alone, voter turnout among blacks increased from 6 percent in 1964 to 59 percent in 1969” (Source). Continue reading

Five Elements of Strategic Resource Development

Posting #1 in a series on Resource Development

It’s tough out there for non-profits and social causes when it comes to raising money, especially money for core operations and services. All of the seed grants, innovation grants, or target specific project grants are fine and dandy, but the growth in sustainable funding is not growing, is it? Impact Investing, Social Enterprise, and Crowd Funding are among the more recent methods of financing social good, though the extent of their reach and utility by the sector overall are emerging, not yet clearly understood.

I have read a fair amount over the years on fundraising and other resource development opportunities and one thing I found irritating in most of them was the thesis they presented, which generally was, “if you all do this or that, or follow this methodology, you all will raise more money.” The reality is, as you  know, every organization will not increase their revenues in a given year. Many struggle just to maintain current levels of funding.

intimate-relationships-connection-you-me-us-we

Relationships Matter

A colleague of mine recently suggested I write a piece like this, given my “success” in significantly growing two non-profits. For one, I doubled staff and financial resources in about three years; for another agency the growth in revenues was about 70% over 5 years. At both agencies there were significant additions in services, but also large gains in securing sustainable funding and improving operational infrastructure (which is all about capacity). This leads me to my first point about generating resources: Raising revenues significantly takes  a significant amount of time.  Patience is definitely a virtue in this instance. Continue reading

Leanings toward heresy

Complex and Simple
By acknowledging that societal issues and solutions are complex, do we then believe complex solutions are the only options? Is it true that a complex issue cannot have a simple solution?

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Data
Data is neither good nor bad. It offers no explanation and on its own cannot provide a definitive sense of progress or under performance. We determine such judgement by holding pieces of data in comparison to one another. We are selective. We have to be, but what we select is also always about what we do not select.  I suggest that is what we do not select that is often the real culprit when it comes to spin.

Sometimes our love of data is not as strong as our love of data that affirms us.

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Understanding
Understanding is not agreement or disagreement. Mutual understanding about an issue or a condition or a model is not strategic alignment. We move too quickly toward strategy without understanding one another, which results in positional arguments based primarily on one’s interests, biases, experiences, and individual perspective pitted against another’s. I am not saying that taking positions is avoidable or even should be. I am wondering what position-based exchanges might look like if those holding opposing or conflicting positions actually did so from a foundation of understanding one another.

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Models
Models are not plans or prescriptions, far less recipes. They are organized ideas gathered into a structure that the modelers put forward based on research, evidence, best and emerging practice and their own ingenuity. They are not meant to be followed as much as they are offered to you as consideration. They are well articulated suggestions that are not intended to be followed in a rote manner.

All models are imperfect. Their genius is revealed in how you use them to build your purpose and the work necessary to fulfill intent. In other words, you are the genius of a model, unless of course you fall short of your expectations.

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Tamarack 2015 Community Impact Summit. Phew!

What a summit it was!

260 people from Canada, the United States, Denmark, Guatemala, Singpore, New Zealand and beyond, working and learning together, inspired by the likes of Al Etmanski (my favorite speaker at the event), Fay Hanleybrown, Stacey Stewart, and Karen Pittman – all of whom gave keynote addresses.

Dozens of workshops were led by Paul Born, Mark Cabaj, Liz Weaver, and other Tamarack learning leaders.

I was honoured to be one of two artists in residence, doing music and spoken word throughout the week and to be able to give two workshops as well.

An incredible highlight for all of us was a visit Thursday night with the Musqueam people who shared with us their rich history and traditions, fed us venison and salmon, and shared as well their songs, drumming, and dance.  The name, “Musquean” means “People of the River Grass.” I also associate their name with the word, “Kindness,” because of their openness and welcoming spirit and the kindness they exhibited to all of us!

 

If you were not there, all of the materials presented can be accessed at the Tamarack CCI  website. The direct link is: http://tamarackcci.ca/node/9196.

The lyrics and spoken word piece I did are also available at this link:
http://tamarackcci.ca/content/mark-holmgren-song-lyrics-and-spoken-word

If you want to be a part of the Tamarack learning community, I encourage you to visit their many websites:

http://www.tamarackcci.ca

http://tamarackcommunity.ca/

http://www.vibrantcommunities.ca

http://www.deepeningcommunity.org/

 

Let’s Take a Break from Doing Good

Let’s forget our worries and our doubts and walk together unencumbered by the need for a destination. Let’s close the big books of plans and studies and turn down the volume of all that best practice noise. Let’s prefer to have faith in something less predictable and confining. Let’s agree to never again meet in board rooms, or scrawl our logic models on white boards, or wax eloquent about the innovator’s dilemma. Let’s run outside into the blue and green grinning wildly. Let’s throw away our shoes and dig our toes into the dirt and feel what it is truly like to be grounded in Mother Earth.

Let’s walk along the water’s edge and enjoy the rush of the river. Watch the way water prevails no matter what sits in its path. And when we reach a clearing, let’s rest and listen to the murmur of the forest and wonder about the creatures there. Let’s sit in sunbeams on cool stones. Let’s think like wild flowers. Let’s feel life like insects do. Let’s shut our mouths and let quiet matter.

Then let’s walk side by side and climb the hill to discover whatever is there for us. Let’s watch the lights of city streets and how the starlight sparks against the glass of skyscrapers. Let’s emerge from a dirt path to a sidewalk with weeds sprouting from its cracks and just keep on walking. Walking until being alone gives away to manoeuvering through the crowds of shoppers, strollers, and pet owners. Let’s be happy when a dog wraps his leash around our leg and looks up at us with his dark eyes. Let’s watch men with jackhammers and smile at the music they make. Let’s buy roses and hand them out to strangers and wish them a happy day.

Let’s stop and drink Fat Bastard at the Thin Lady Café. Let’s tell jokes to strangers and laugh from our bellies. Let’s spill on ourselves the excess of our happiness and not even think for a moment of erasing the stain with a Tide pen. Let’s talk about gardens and camping. Let’s read each other stories from the newspaper that the other would not choose to read. Let’s write down our peculiarities on napkins and then leave them for others to read after we leave.

Let’s stand in picture windows and make funny faces at the shoppers inside. Let’s gawk like children at everything we do not understand. Let’s walk down alley ways and enjoy the gardens of strangers and let the colours and aromas kiss our skin. Let’s sit on the concrete bus bench and refuse to look tired and resigned to the long wait to come.

Then, let’s find the busiest of plazas, and in the middle of the chaos of people and neon and honking horns, let’s dance. Let’s dance like tiny dogs do. Let’s inhale everything that is good and uplifting and exhale all of our broken pieces and watch them float away toward the moon. Let’s forget that we want to save the world. Let’s forget for a short time all that we have to do. Let’s forget how afraid we are and defy our tendency to think professionalism trumps personal connection.

Let’s embrace on the sidewalk for all to see. Let’s communicate like dolphins and hold on to one another. Let’s hold onto one another like grandmothers do when their grandchildren run to them for love or because they are frightened or for any other reason at all.

And then, let’s get back to work. There is suffering everywhere and while we may not ever end it, God help us if we ever get to the point where we just give up and accept that suffering is acceptable and something we just have to learn to live with. Let’s never do that.

Let’s never do that.