Fall 2022 Project Spotlight: Harold Robinson Foundation
Learn about how our consultants helped the Harold Robinson Foundation gain and diversify funds, increase capacity, and utilize their executive and programming boards more effectively.
Currently, the Harold Robinson Foundation has very few staff members and is suffering from a lack in donations as a result of the pandemic. Their staff members are overwhelmed and the organization needs more funding to continue programming and hire an additional staff member to better distribute the workload. As consultants, our task was to explore grant opportunities and how to improve grant applications, identify priority staff positions to be hired once the organization has sufficient funds, analyze current funding and expense trends through mathematical ratios and comparisons to other organizations, and recommend ways to increase and diversify funding.
About The Harold Robinson Foundation
The Harold Robinson Foundation works with the schools and underserved youth in the Watts community to reduce the school-to-prison pipeline by creating access to personal development opportunities, resources, supportive adult relationships, and team building activities that foster social-emotional learning. The foundation operates two main programs. Camp Ubuntu takes place during weekends of the school year at a campsite in the Angeles Crest Forest where students, faculty, and parents participate in typical summer camp events such as ropes courses, swimming activities, zip-lining, dance classes, hiking, and so much more. This experience fosters a safe place for reduced barriers, team building, and opportunities for leadership that enhance students’ self-confidence and tighten their bond as a community. Camp Ubuntu Watts occurs at Markham Middle School during the summer and brings the social-emotional learning activities to the students. The programs are completely free of cost to the children and the schools the Harold Robinson Foundation partners with.
Project Agenda & Objectives
To address the problems our client brought up, we broke down our problem solving into four main steps:
Grant Research and Evaluation: deliver a number of grant opportunities not previously explored by the organization and recommend improvements on past grant applications
Organizational Structure: analyze the current organizational structure and needs to identify a priority staff position to hire
Financial Analysis and Fundraising Strategy: evaluate the current funding structure of the organization and how funding can be diversified so finances are secure enough to hire an additional employee
Board Improvements: research and strategy to better engage board members
1) Grant Research and Evaluation In More Depth
The first workstream was grant research and evaluation. We reviewed the grants that the Harold Robinson Foundation has applied to in the past, researched and compiled a list of additional grants the foundation should applied to, and recommended ways that the organization can modify their descriptions of programming to better fit the purposes of the grants in the applications. We created a spreadsheet that included the name of the grant, the amount, the deadline of the grant application, and how the organization should frame its impact and highlight aspects of its programming to best fit the grant's goal, all organized by priority of upcoming application deadlines. This grant spreadsheet helped the Harold Robinson Foundation discover new grant opportunities that they hadn't applied to in the past and served as one solution to help them diversify their funding sources.
2) Organizational Structure In More Depth
The second workstream was understanding the current organizational structure of the Harold Robinson Foundation and identifying which staff position should be the largest priority to hire when they have the resources to do so.
The first step in this workstream was to research typical organizational structure and board structure for a nonprofit of a similar budget and programming. The second step in this process was conducting information interviews with staff and board members to understand the responsibilities of the current staff and pinpoint where staff members and leadership are overwhelmed. We conducted six formal interviews and around five informal interviews during our time visiting Camp Ubuntu. This gave our team a gauge of the strengths of the organization, what needs improvement, and how staffing can play a role in solving the issues we discovered during the interviews.
Next, we analyzed the feedback from the interviews and our client contacts and discussed among ourselves what we saw as the greatest staffing need. We determined that hiring a development director should be the greatest staffing priority.
Finally, we researched the typical salary and job descriptions of a development director of similar organizations. We crafted our own job description with a list of custom job responsibilities that are a combination of what we found in our research and results of the interviews. We also included a list of websites where the Harold Robinson Foundation can post the job description as an open position to source this new staff member. In our final deliverable presentation, we explained to the client why this is the optimal staff position and how this recommendation will help solve the many issues they are currently facing to strengthen the organization as a whole.
3) Financial Analysis and Fundraising Strategy In More Depth
The need for a third workstream was identified after our visit to Camp Ubuntu and our mid-semester presentation. From having a closer look at the organization and talking to more staff members and key stakeholders, we understood that the Harold Robinson Foundation was not in the optimal financial position to hire a new staff member. We decided that financial recommendations were necessary as a predecessor to our organizational structure expansion recommendation of hiring an additional staff member. We began this workstream by researching Key Financial Performance Indicators that we could use to analyze the current funding and expenses of the organization. We also researched recommendations for the range that each KPI ratio should be within to indicate a financially stable organization.
Once we decided on the KPI's that were most relevant to the financial state of the organization and what needed improvement, we calculated each KPI with the financial statements of the Harold Robinson Foundation. We then researched other organizations similar to the Harold Robinson Foundation with KPIs that better matched the recommended range. We used one similar organization in particular to stand as an external example that is considered more financially stable than the Harold Robinson Foundation for them to compare themselves to.
Finally, based on the results of calculating these KPI's of the Harold Robinson Foundation, we recommended fundraising solutions that would help them improve their results to be closer to the recommended range. Some of the suggestions included applying to more grants like the ones we evaluated previously, peer-to-peer fundraising, corporate sponsorships, understanding their current donor base better and updating their annual fundraiser to increase individual donations, and designing Giving Tuesday campaigns to increase donations. We explained that by diversifying and increasing funding by utilizing these strategies and tracking the financial health of the organization with the KPIs we provided, the Harold Robinson Foundation will be able to hire a development director, who will assist in fundraising initiatives and donor and board relations to continue improving the financial health of the organization.
4) Board Improvements In More Depth
In addition to researching organizational structure, we also researched typical board structure and made some minor recommendations on how to improve the board onboarding process and how to better engage board members through email updates about programming, success stories of campers, and by giving the board context of the current issues within the organizations so that board members can better use their connections to help where they can.
The Impact of 180DC's Work
The first expected results of our recommendations will be for the Harold Robinson Foundation to apply to more grants using the grant spreadsheet we provided and the improvements we suggested they make to grant applications. Secondly, we hope that over the next year, the Harold Robinson Foundation diversify and increase funding by implementing the remaining fundraising recommendations we provided. We expect that in the next one to two years, the organization will be able to reach a point of financial stability, which allows them to hire a development director, who is responsible for fundraising initiatives and donor and board relations to continue improving the financial health of the organization.
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