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Feeding Family, Feeding Community with AfriThrive

Feeding Family, Feeding Community with AfriThrive

Lydiah Owiti came to the U.S. from Kenya to join her husband. They had moved several times for his job in the military, in which they served for 12 years. When his California office closed during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, they moved to Maryland. However, soon after arriving here with their three children — a 10-year-old son, and daughters ages 9 and 3 — the Maryland office closed as well, and Lydiah’s husband was out of work.

“Panic sets in,” Lydiah remembers. At the time, she was a full-time mom with no income of her own to fall back on. The family had just signed a lease in Maryland and, immediately, they began worrying about how they would manage.

Lydiah started exploring options, seeking connections in her new community, just as she had done with every move the family had made. Soon, she came across AfriThrive and learned that the organization provides food to African immigrant families.

Within two days of reaching out to AfriThrive, food was delivered to her doorstep. Lydiah knew they gave food out at central distribution spots, but because she was not near one of these locations, AfriThrive came to her. “That really touched me,” she says.

But food was not the only thing they offered. The people at AfriThrive wanted to learn more about their situation and find out how else they could help. “It was such an amazing thing,” Lydiah says, “to have people come out to see us and care so much.”

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Thanks to the food from AfriThrive, Lydiah and her family could use their limited savings for rent. Fortunately, the military still provided for their healthcare. “Too often, families in financial straits have to choose between a place to sleep or feeding their family, but AfriThrive meant we did not have to make such a difficult choice.”

In addition, the food AfriThrive provided was not the canned food that Lydiah expected. “That’s what most food pantries provide, and while it’s very helpful, that’s not something I was used to preparing,” she remembers. “AfriThrive’s fresh vegetables, like collard greens, made me feel at home.”

Lydiah was so touched by the generosity of AfriThrive that she began volunteering herself. “People from my culture are reluctant to ask for help because they see doing so as a sign of weakness. I don’t care about that — and I knew there had to be many people who would need assistance and I wanted to volunteer my time to help.”

“I volunteered with my kids to distribute food door-to-door to our neighbors. We made so many friends along the way, and the more we distributed the more people came out who needed it.”

Lydiah’s husband landed a new job that took them to Connecticut and although she was sad to leave the AfriThrive community, she continues to stay in touch and help out with AfriThrive’s youth mentoring program. Now, she also works for Blue Star Families, a nonprofit providing suport for active duty military and veteran families.

Lydiah will always remember what AfriThrive did for her and her family at a time of great desperation. “Just seeing how someone would go out of their way for my needs and come to my doorstep was so comforting and reassuring. There’s still so much good out there, and people for whom other people’s needs are that important.”

AfriThrive pairs food with critical services that empower underserved Black immigrant and refugee families. In addition to sourcing locally grown, culturally appropriate fresh fruits and vegetables for weekly distribution to thousands of community members, they also offer a youth engagement and life skills program, as well as connects youth with employment opportunities. Learn about this work, and more, by visiting their website and subscribing to their newsletter. Support them this GivingTuesday and holiday season!

Confidence, Self-Expression, and Mindfulness at Legacy Farms

Confidence, Self-Expression, and Mindfulness at Legacy Farms

Guest blog by Legacy Farms

There are very few jobs where employees are not only learning new job skills, but are also learning about their capabilities, their worth, and how to bring peace into their own lives; yet this is a daily occurrence at Legacy Farms for all our apprentices.

Legacy Farms’ mission is to empower neurodiversity in the workplace, which we accomplish through our signature mentor / apprentice program, Growing Together. Through Growing Together, neurodivergent apprentices are hired, beginning as volunteers receiving educational training and advancing to paid positions working alongside mentors in our garden. During the program, mentors coach our apprentices on job skills, social awareness, and self-advocacy. Apprentices work in the garden or on special projects that further their talents, such as doing videography for social media, developing relationships with our garden’s distributors, and coordinating events or other projects.

Our apprentices are individuals who are 16 years or older and identify as neurodivergent. Our apprentices are individuals with autism, ADHD, learning disabilities, PTSD, and anxiety — neurotypes that vary from perceived norms and affect an individual’s ability to achieve independence in the current job market. Many of our apprentices are in the process of transitioning beyond the educational system and have difficulty finding and maintaining employment. Our program primarily serves individuals in Loudoun and Fairfax counties, but is open to any neurodivergent individual who can commute to our gardens for weekly work responsibilities during the growing season.

We focus on teaching work responsibilities and competencies while increasing personal awareness and self-regulation as these are foundational capacities that lead to improved employment and job retention. Through relational modeling, we mentor and support our apprentices to be their authentic selves by engaging their talents and capabilities. By working as equals who are all focused on the same goals and by relying on our apprentices to complete customer deliverables, our program strengthens apprentice capacities for self-organization, initiative, and leadership. It isn’t just about building their skills, but more importantly about increasing their confidence; apprentices achieve a higher level of personal adjustment and can further their contributions as members of society.

“He feels so confident and comfortable that when he was talking with professors during college seminars and asking questions about their programs, he was able to have a really great conversation and sound very professional,” Angela said about her son, Colin. Not only is Colin one of our apprentices who has worked in our garden, but he also lent his talents as an entrepreneurially focused Writing Apprentice, creating a blog for Legacy Farms called The Green Thumb. Speaking to Colin’s participation in Growing Together and how it has made him more confident and self-assured in the world outside of the farm, Angela elaborated, “He could actually talk about what he was doing at Legacy Farms. He felt really proud about it, just being in the professional work as a writer.”

In 2022, Legacy Farms served 32 neurodivergent individuals in apprenticeship, garden team lead, mentor, and committee/Board roles, while also providing support for over a third of those individuals in secondary jobs and/or outplacement. Our goal in 2023 is to expand our farm space as well as expand the number of CSA’s that we are able to offer. This GivingTuesday, help Legacy Farms raise $10,000 so that we can expand the number of apprentices we are able to serve in 2023!

Learn more about Legacy Farms by visiting their website.

End-of-Year Tips & Tricks

End-of-Year Tips & Tricks

End-of-Year (EOY) is often a stressful and chaotic time for fundraisers. With a little planning, you can reduce stress for you and your team, and still meet your EOY goals! In this article, we’ve outlined some helpful hints and tips to keep in mind as you plan your End-of-Year fundraising campaigns.

Planning and Goal-Setting

First, do a little planning. Pull out your calendar and figure out key dates for your campaign. When and for how long do you want your EOY campaign to run? Will you include GivingTuesday as part of your campaign, or do you prefer to run that separate from EOY? As you determine the timing of your campaign, consider who else is helping you and when. If you’re a development team of one, see if other staff at your organization can help pitch in, even if it’s just folding letters and stamping envelopes. Put on some music and make it festive, if that’s your thing!

As you consider the timing of your campaign and your capacity, set some realistic goals; these don’t have to be just about money! You can set a goal for how much you’d like to raise, but do also consider a few goals around your initial outreach and follow up. These are the low-hanging fruit that will help you evaluate your campaign and plan for next year!

Messaging

Now that you’ve outlined the campaign on your calendar, figured out your capacity, and set a few goals, it’s time to think about the messaging. Your communications should be focused on the future and the problem or issue that donors to your campaign will help you solve. Bring them into the fold even more by using donor-focused language and explain how their support is needed at this particular time. Create urgency — but be realistic about it as well. What difference does a donor’s gift make to your organization, and how quickly will you use these funds to solve the problem?

You don’t need to cram all your messaging and urgency into one email or one letter. Spread it out over a few emails throughout the timeline of your campaign and use a few different communications channels. These different communications channels are your friends! It takes a little more work at the outset to segment your lists and develop targeted messaging for each, but it is well worth it in the end.

Consider your message to your social media audience, your email newsletter audience, as well as your donors who receive a letter in the mail. Chances are there is some overlap in each of these audiences, but not much. You can vary your asks here as well. For example, while email and direct mail are great places to make specific asks, social media can perhaps be leveraged for its multiplier effects so that you can amplify the pithiest parts of your EOY messaging to your followers’ networks. You might also utilize phone calls or other one-on-one meetings if reaching out to major donors is part of your EOY strategy.

Additionally, it might seem counterintuitive, but not all your communications need to be asks for support. Instead, sprinkle some cultivation touchpoints throughout your EOY campaign. This could include sending a holiday newsletter about your work or pushing out some infographics on social media highlighting your organization’s impact over the past year. This helps donors know what their past dollars have done and connects the dots to what their future contributions can do for your organization.

Post-Campaign and Other Tips

As you continue to plan your campaign, consider any additional opportunities to pique donors’ interest and garner support. One way is through matching gifts. Often, your foundation partners, corporate supporters, or Board members can be sources of matching gifts to challenge donors to give, creating another layer of engagement for your campaign. A matching gift should be discussed and planned out more than just a few weeks from the beginning of your campaign, so if it isn’t in the cards for this year, it’s a great idea to put in your back pocket for EOY 2023!

In January, make sure to take some time to celebrate your EOY success with your team and the donors who made it possible. Promptly send thank-you letters and receipts. If your campaign was primarily via email and donors gave through an online portal, they likely already received an acknowledgement note and a tax receipt. If your donors gave through the mail, tally up those gifts throughout your campaign and issue letters and receipts as soon as you can. Either way, follow up again with donors about 4-6 weeks after your campaign wrapped up to thank them once more and let them know how their contributions are being used. They’ll be glad to hear from you!

End-of-Year doesn’t have to be stressful. Taking some time to plan out your campaign, setting some (realistic) goals, and considering your messaging and audience will put you on the path to success! With each year, you can continue to build upon your successes from the year before and make any improvements or adjustments. Step by step, EOY will hopefully get a little easier and a little more fun!

Found this article helpful? The Catalogue for Philanthropy offers similar resources through our Learning Commons membership, which provides access to 80+ live webinars every year and a portal that houses over 200+ existing tools, recorded webinars, and more. If you’re not a nonprofit in the Catalogue network and you’re interested in learning more about a membership, please contact Chiara Banez, our Nonprofit Programs Manager.

Rest, Dream, & Build: The Fight for Guaranteed Income in DC

Rest, Dream, & Build: The Fight for Guaranteed Income in DC

“The time has come for us to civilize ourselves by the total, direct, and immediate abolition of poverty,” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in 1967. The last book he published before he was assassinated laid out the case for guaranteed income, a vision that the Mother’s Outreach Network (MON) continues to make a reality here in Washington, DC, today through the work of the DC Guaranteed Income Coalition.

This November 17th, the Coalition celebrates its second anniversary. Though MON was founded in 2010 to build the power of parents and achieve economic security for families — and especially for Black mothers who are either formerly incarcerated or who have children in the child welfare system — it was during the pandemic that Melody Webb, Executive Director of MON, became interested in furthering the emergency pandemic relief programs that the government had started through exploring guaranteed income policy.

“The time seemed ripe because suddenly many Americans and policy makers at all levels woke up to the long-standing need for deeper systemic solutions. That was the genesis,” Melody shared with the Catalogue in a recent interview. “Because there were so many efforts underway, like Thrive East of the River, including programs growing up across the country and abroad, it just made common sense.”

Since the Coalition was conceived in 2020, their push for the city’s first pot of guaranteed income public funding helped result in a one-time $1.5M appropriation for guaranteed income pilots here in DC. This represents a step towards an economically just future for a wide range of DC communities who are excluded from the current social safety net. But there is still so much more to be done.

What is guaranteed income?

So, what is guaranteed income? As the Guaranteed Income Community of Practice defines, it is “a regular cash payment accessible to members of a community, with no strings attached and no work requirements.” According to the Economic Security Project, “nearly half of all households don’t even have $400 in cash on hand to deal with an emergency or unexpected bill.” Instead, due to austerity politics and systemic racism, it is now nearly impossible for people “to build a strong economic foundation for themselves and their families.” Many of us are actually familiar with such direct cash payments from the federal government — namely, the stimulus payments that were provided during the height of the pandemic.

“Cash can make all the difference for you,” said Hanh Le, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at if, A Foundation for Radical Possibility, a Coalition member. “That’s one of the things we talk about with our (Let’s GO DMV! guaranteed income pilot for hospitality workers). When has cash made a difference in your life? Whether it’s $5, $500, or $5,000, everyone has a story about the impact extra cash can make. We can all relate to that.”

In contrast to a Universal Basic Income, which would give everyone identical cash payments, guaranteed income is a targeted measure that provides money on a regular basis to lower-income individuals regardless of their age, health, or employment status — and is specifically meant to lift them above a minimum income floor. In the 1960s, Black mother and economic justice advocate Johnnie Tillmon fought for Guaranteed Adequate Income through the National Welfare Rights Organization to dismantle conditions keeping “all women on their knees.”

“(Tillmon) saw Guaranteed Adequate Income as a way to break down the categories we use to give people cash based on who they are,” Melody echoed. “She held a vision to address the needs of those living below an income floor without regard to their identities — whether they’re a parent, or a mom of a young enough child to qualify for benefits.”

15% of DC residents live below the federal poverty line. Though this is only one measure of economic security, in 2022, the federal poverty line is approximately $13,000 for a one-person household. “For me, that’s shameful,” said Melody. “In this nation of such wealth there’s no reason anyone should live below this already meager federal poverty line. The biggest goal is to have us all work together, rise up, and demand city leaders put in place a guaranteed income and fixes to existing safety net programs to provide people with higher incomes without cutting their Medicaid and disability insurance.”

Why should you join the fight for guaranteed income?

As part of the Coalition’s push to educate and draw support from the broader DC community, Coalition members and volunteers canvass different parts of the city to talk about guaranteed income. Often, in conversations about guaranteed income, harmful narratives pop up around what people who are lower- or no-income, or working people, do when they get extra cash.

“Some of us judge our neighbors who don’t have extra money when they receive it and spend it on ensuring they can rest and take their kids to the beach for the first time,” Melody explained. A core value underlying guaranteed income is self-determination and trusting that people make the best choices for themselves, their families, and their communities.

“We believe people will take care of their basic needs,” Melody stated. “Who are we to determine what those needs are? If we give people cash, they deserve the agency to determine how to use their money.” Reports on other pilot programs show that when you give people money, they spend it on things like healthcare or tutoring their kids or traveling back and forth from work.

But we need to move beyond this framing, too. As Hanh shared, people should be able to spend their money to “rest, dream and build power, whatever they want to build for their families and communities.” Guaranteed income can lead to the systems change we need for people to move out of poverty.

Moreover, “there’s a moral force behind guaranteed income that’s powered by the racial equity outcomes that it has the potential to achieve,” Melody emphasized. “We think this is the way we should lead — with Black and Brown people at the forefront of our cause.” This includes people like Vee Tucker, the life-long activist and worker-leader who innovated the concept of the Let’s GO DMV! pilot.

“(Vee) came to if with the vision for Let’s GO DMV! for hospitality workers who are un- and under-employed because of COVID-19,” Hanh elaborated. “She and her fellow hospitality workers have been out there with the Coalition canvassing, testifying, and delivering petitions to Mayor Bowser. It’s pretty amazing, the power they have.” Most importantly and inspirationally, “None of us alone, including our institutions, can be making the changes we hope to make.”

While the Coalition celebrates change happening in DC, such as publicly-funded pilots, their ultimate goal is greater policy change for a permanent, government-supported guaranteed income and a more effective public benefits system. Join if, Diverse City Fund, Meyer Foundation, and the Coalition’s other supporters in getting engaged by signing/sharing their petition, volunteering, or offering your financial support! You can learn more about the Coalition at their virtual 2nd anniversary celebration on November 17, by joining their monthly working group meetings, and by visiting their website.

Local Nonprofit Bulletin (11.11.22)

Local Nonprofit Bulletin

(11.11.22)

Attend Something!

Make Something!

Do Something!

Re-Engaging Lapsed Donors

Re-Engaging Lapsed Donors

Lapsed donors, or supporters who last gave to your organization more than a year ago, are important to consider re-engaging year-round, but especially when planning for your upcoming GivingTuesday and/or end-of-year fundraising campaigns. Beyond raising money, lapsed donors are great individuals to reach out to because they have a history of supporting your nonprofit. With increasingly short time horizons for many of us since the pandemic started, renewing your connections with people who you last heard from a while ago can be a way to check in with and strengthen your community of supporters.

Identifying and Prioritizing Lapsed Donors

When identifying who to begin reaching out to, it can be most helpful to organize your list of lapsed donors by timing as a gauge for how interested they may be in responding to your outreach. Often, we see that donors whose gifts are still within their memory are the most likely to re-engage with you. There are a couple groups of donors that are good to identify: 1) Donors who gave to your organization last year but have not given this year (your LYBUNTs); and 2) Any donors who gave to your organization during the pandemic. It is especially important to reach out to those who gave in 2020 to ensure they see themselves as long-term supporters of your organization. We recommend that you don’t look for donors whose last gifts were more than five or six years ago — typically, nonprofits tend to see diminishing returns on outreach to donors whose last gift was three or more years ago, and especially to donors whose last gift was over five years ago.

An additional way to prioritize your lapsed donors is by reviewing their giving habits, which include donation amount(s) and frequency. Determine the minimum amount a donor had to had given annually for you to reach back out to them. Though you can engage your whole list of donors regardless of the level of their contribution(s), this is ultimately a question of your staff capacity. If you start with donors who gave at least $100 annually, for instance, you can narrow your list while also prioritizing the lapsed donors who are likelier to be more invested in your mission. As you do this, don’t forget to also account for frequency — recurring donors and donors who gave multiple times over multiple years showed a significant degree of commitment to your mission.

Finally, make sure you include and prioritize supporters who may have a personal connection to your organization, such as consistent volunteers, previous board members, and any other personal contacts.

Crafting Your Outreach

Lead with gratitude! Your messaging should start with a note of thanks for their past support. Broad research indicates that two out of three donors stop giving to an organization because they don’t feel appreciated. While you may not know the exact reason why your lapsed donors stopped giving, it is always a good practice to reach out and highlight the impact of their previous gifts first before sharing more about how their support has helped you do the great work you’re doing now.

Once you thank them, you can then focus on the impact of their giving and use this chance to share any updates you may have about how you’ve shifted your work since their last gift. Keep this section short and sweet! The best storytelling tends to tap into people’s emotions, so craft a narrative of the journey you’ve been on and emphasize two or three big developments for your organization. Be as transparent and authentic as you can about any major staff transitions, program or strategy shifts, and growth you’ve experienced. As part of your storytelling, you can also include a piece of content you’ve already created, such as a client story that demonstrates the impact of your work. Tease this content and give them the option to continue reading it on your website or elsewhere.

Lastly, end by inviting your lapsed donors to learn more about your programming or to connect with you. This ask should depend on how they first engaged with your organization, so if they were a volunteer, you could share more about an upcoming volunteer opportunity. Other ways to connect can include inviting them to an event, to follow you on social media, to subscribe to your newsletter, and/or to make a modest gift. You do not have to make all of these asks at the same time! You may need to reach out a couple of itmes to re-engage your lapsed donors, and you can also start with a small ask to get them involved first before committing to donating.

In each of your messages, don’t forget to personalize the language you use! For example, you can customize your message to mention their last year of giving, as well as share how they last engaged with you and why their support was valuable. To make it more of a conversation, you can also consider asking your lapsed donors for their feedback, thoughts, or ideas.

A Few More Tips

Be patient with your outreach! It may take a while for your lapsed donors to re-engage but, most importantly, you’ve taken a step in making a connection with them again. Try reaching out about three times and, if you still don’t get a response or see other signs of re-engagement, consider them a former donor — some individuals may have moved on, and that’s okay! This is all part of the donor lifecycle.

In addition to reviewing your donor stewardship strategy to ensure that you’re thanking your donors regularly, set your own goals for donors’ giving and engagement, and track these consistently. This data will be helpful when you plan your next fundraising campaign and want to incorporate lapsed donor re-engagement into your strategy.

Found this article helpful? The Catalogue for Philanthropy offers similar resources through our Learning Commons membership, which provides access to 80+ live webinars every year and a portal that houses over 200+ existing tools, recorded webinars, and more. If you’re not a nonprofit in the Catalogue network and you’re interested in learning more about a membership, please contact Chiara Banez, our Nonprofit Programs Manager.

Local Nonprofit Bulletin (Spooky Edition)

Local Nonprofit Bulletin

(Spooky Edition)

From time travel to “human spiders” occupying the Underworld, Scena Theatre’s The Time Machine is a wonderful, spooky-vibes play for all sci-fi lovers. It runs from October 21 – November 13 at the Atlas Performing Arts Center. More into fairytales? Try Kalanidhi Dance’s The Ballad of Belle (October 28 & 29), an original take on Beauty and the Beast inspired by the style of storytelling from the Indian classical dance tradition of Kuchipudi. (+ Are you an artist or know someone who is? Applications for the Atlas Arts Lab close tomorrow! This program facilitates artistic growth & development for artists whose work explores the ideas and issues of our time, and runs from January – June, 2023.)

Catch the debut of La Llorona at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop. An adaptation of the Latin American legend of the weeping woman in white, this is a story of young love, loss, betrayal, and despair that runs from October 28 – November 19, with a single Monday performance on October 31. Written by Gabby Wolfe and presented by We Happy Few.

Drug use and addiction are health issues. Participate in an Overdose Awareness Community Art Build on October 28 from 3:00 – 5:00 PM at the Petworth Library with the Decrim Poverty Coalition and its members — HIPS, the Fair Budget Coalition, and the Drug Policy Alliance, with support from Movement Matters.

LGBTQIA+ youth are invited to SMYAL‘s Halloween party on October 28 at their youth center in Eastern Market! Show up in costume, grab some treats, and hang out at their haunted house.

Here’s a party where you’re invited to boo the hosts — shout BOO at improvisers on October 28 at the Washington Improv Theater‘s Halloween fundraiser bash! Come in costume starting at 8:00 PM and be ready to dance at Hawthorne’s outdoor deck.

Volunteer as a debate judge at the Washington Urban Debate League‘s Spoookiest tournament of the year on October 29 at EL Haynes High School. They are looking for four more judges, especially for their afternoon shift between 12:30 – 5:30 PM!

Dress your dog up and go trick-or-treating in Shirlington Village on October 29 from 2:00 – 4:00 PM to raise funds for Lucky Dog Animal Rescue! Enter their costume contest, collect homemade treats from Dogma Bakery, and do it all for a great cause.

Alternatively, if you are looking to bring home a dog, head to Petsmart Chantilly on October 29 from 12:00 – 3:00 PM, where Homeless Animals Rescue Team is holding their next adoption event!

Join Common Good City Farm for a Fall-O-Ween on October 30 from 1:00 – 4:00 PM. From free chili & snacks to a costume contest (and then costumes & karaoke starting at 5:00 PM), it’ll be a good day of enjoying all things fall and Halloween.

Decorate bandanas for you or your pet! VisArts is hosting a free, family-friendly Halloween Bandana Workshop on October 30 from 4:00 – 6:00 PM in Rockville Town Square.

Trick-or-treat in Chevy Chase! On October 31 from 3:00 – 6:00 PM, District Bridges‘ Chevy Chase Main Street has organized a Spooktacular with participating businesses.

Help Good Shepherd Housing & Family Services pull off some Halloween magic on October 31! Sign up to volunteer at their Trunk-or-Treat — they have slots available between 2:00 – 8:00 PM.

Reflections on our Inaugural Grassroots Accelerator Program (GAP) Cohort

Reflections on our Inaugural Grassroots Accelerator Program (GAP) Cohort

Recently, the Catalogue for Philanthropy concluded its inaugural cohort for the Grassroots Accelerator Program (GAP), a six-month program designed to empower leaders of small, local nonprofits with organizational budgets of $250,000 and below. Too often, nonprofits that operate on small budgets with small teams are overlooked when it comes to sharing resources — from gaining information to reaching donors to leveraging funding. When they are directed to capacity-building resources, the recommended practices aren’t usually adapted to be realistic for teams of 1-3 staff members either.

We developed GAP precisely to address this challenge and to increase equity of access to networks, skills, resources, and information for such small nonprofits that would be practical and actionable for them. Through twice-monthly sessions on topics like organizational structure, nonprofit finances, branding, strategic planning, and more, local Executive Director (EDs) engaged in the vital skill-building needed to grow their organizations sustainably in a community of peer leaders.

On the heels of wrapping up our first GAP cohort, we want to reflect on what we’ve learned throughout this process and share more about how participating in this opportunity has made a concrete difference for small, local nonprofit leaders.

1. Gaining new tools and frameworks

One of the elements we were particularly intentional about when creating GAP was ensuring that participants would complete the program armed with relevant and practical tools for success that they felt comfortable using. In addition to providing tangible resources like worksheets, guides, and templates during each session, participants were given a 6-month membership to our digital Learning Commons portal after finishing the program, which aimed to supplement their skill-building with 200+ recorded webinars, downloadable tools, and more on a variety of topics.

At the start of GAP, we decided that if participants put into place one action as a result of each 2-hour session, we would consider it a measure of our success. To our excitement, 100% of participants shared in a post-program survey that they have put into practice something they learned from this cohort. “We now have new helpful frameworks for strategic planning conversations, board management, and board retreats,” one GAP leader told us. “We have new tools to improve the way we do budgeting… (and) a library of helpful information to refer to in the future as the need arises.”

Another GAP leader noted that “Executive Directors of small nonprofits are often expected to wear many hats, but we all have our professional strengths and weaknesses. This program gave me concrete steps — and confidence! — to tackle projects that are not in my ‘wheelhouse’.”

2. Forming new relationships with other small nonprofit leaders

As leaders of small grassroots nonprofits, EDs are usually the only staff member — if not one of the three or fewer staff members — doing all the work. Giving participants the consistent space to connect on challenges that come with having multiple roles, and to celebrate the successes of their organizations, was key to the program’s cohort model design. Week after week, leaders had the chance to both learn alongside each other and connect over small group discussions.

The aspect of the cohort that participants found to be most valuable was that they all lead organizations of the same size. As one participant shared, “I started the nonprofit based on a passion for our mission but never attended business school. As such, some of the hats I wear as an ED feel like they belong on someone else’s head… It has been relieving to listen as others share what it is like for them to carry out and further their missions as similar small fish in a big nonprofit pond.”

Not only were individual relationships formed, but a network of peers was created. Another participant noted that “Prior to participation in this group, I did not know many other founders/executive directors of small nonprofits.” This sentiment was echoed throughout the cohort.

At the completion of this program, 85% of participants strongly agreed or agreed that they built relationships with other participants in the cohort and that, while the group dynamic certainly didn’t fill in for additional staff, it did provide support. As one member said, “It was very comforting to meet other Executive Directors who are also balancing multiple areas of running a business simultaneously.”

3. A deeper understanding of how to strategize more intentionally

Many resources that are offered for small nonprofits typically assume a larger nonprofit size than that of the organizations participating in GAP. When we built this program, we wanted to ensure that:

  • The resources we provided were geared towards grassroots organizations and small teams
  • We comprehensively covered nonprofit management topics from initial development through strategic planning
  • What we shared was actionable and realistic

In designing the program, we shared content that could stand on its own but also fell into sequence with other topics that built on previous knowledge. For example, though conversations about finances might not usually be held at the same time as conversations about people management, we grouped them both in the same month as part of a broader focus on how we manage our resources. During another month, we brought together organizational structure and evaluation under the larger question, “How do you do your work?” As a result, participants were able to focus on those broader questions and on the interconnectedness of each month’s topics while diving deeper into specific areas.

“I have a more cohesive picture of nonprofit management and the specific strengths and weaknesses of our organization,” one leader told us after GAP completed. “Our organization is strategizing more intentionally to focus time and energy on areas that yield the greatest benefits for the nonprofit and recipients.”

The Catalogue is excited to continue iterating and improving on GAP, especially with the knowledge that grassroots organizations can increase their community impact that much more when their leaders feel empowered to grow sustainably.

For more information on GAP, or to stay informed on a future version of this cohort, contact Chiara Banez, our Nonprofit Programs Manager.

Local Nonprofit Bulletin (10.14.22)

Local Nonprofit Bulletin

10.14.22

13 ways you can connect with the critical work of small, local nonprofits this month:

  1. DMV Food Recovery Week runs from October 16-22! Join Manna Food Center, the DC Food Recovery Working Group, the Montgomery County Food Council, and Prince George’s County Food Equity Council for in-person and virtual events to learn about reducing food waste and increasing food security for all.
  2. Learn more about the work of Tahirih Justice Center and how you can help them support immigrant survivors of violence at their virtual Bighearted Kickoff Celebration on October 17 from 5:00 – 5:30 PM!
  3. On October 18 at 6:00 PM at the Martin Luther King Jr Library, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association and DC Justice Lab, along with Sunrise-DC, Metro-DSA, ACLU-DC, and Advance Project, will be launching their Police Out of Traffic Enforcement Campaign. Join them for a panel discussion and start the conversation on what a safe and sustainable transportation system looks like!
  4. Join Main Street staff on October 18 from 6:00 – 7:00 PM in-person or virtually to learn and talk about invisible disabilities, which are disabilities that exist beyond one’s appearance.
  5. In need of professional attire for the fall? Stop by the Suited for Change October Boutique Sale on October 19 between 4:00 – 7:00 PM! With every purchase, you are helping empower the women in their community as they secure and sustain professional employment.
  6. The film Voices of Reentry explores the challenges of reentry and the role communities can play in reducing these barriers. Justice Arts Coalition will be screening this film virtually on October 19 from 7:00 – 8:30 PM, followed by a conversation between the audience and one or more of the film’s storytellers, local providers of reentry support services, and formerly incarcerated members of their community.
  7. For people with disabilities and their families, it’s absolutely critical to make careful plans for their financial futures. Join The Arc of Northern Virginia on October 21 at 10:00 AM for their quarterly online roundtable discussion with certified financial professionals, “Thank Goodness It’s Financial Fitne$$ Friday.”
  8. On October 21 at 11:30 AM, tune into a webinar about developing and producing investigative podcasts with one of the country’s most successful investigative podcast teams, who also serve on the board for the Fund for Investigative Journalism.
  9. The documentary film MIXED offers a new lens into race and the lives of the first generation of mixed-race kids and families to be counted in the U.S. Census. Watch a free screening of this film virtually on October 24 at 7:00 PM, followed by a live Q&A with the filmmakers, as part of the Silver Screen Series by Docs In Progress!
  10. On October 27 at 6:30 PM, join IN Series at metrobar for a Directors’ Salon on Requiem!
  11. It’s a Garlic Planting Party! On October 29 from 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM, the Washington Youth Garden will celebrate the end of the growing season with garlic planting, family-friendly activities, food tastings, vegetable harvesting, and more.
  12. Check out The D.C. Homeless Crisis Reporting Project, compiled by Street Sense Media, and including a guide to reporting on homelessness.
  13. Listen to a new podcast by The Giving Square, “Kids are Philanthropists, Too!” This podcast is for people of all ages to explore important social challenges, with kids ages 10-12 as your guides. The first episode covers physical health challenges as experienced by kids and adults.

It’s Time to Vote. Are You Ready?

It’s Time to VOTE. Are You Ready?

By YWCA National Capital Area

At the YWCA National Capital Area, our mission of eliminating racism and empowering women guides our work every day. Civic engagement, including voter education and registration, is a key component of our intersectional work, as we believe that all voices should be heard at the ballot box.

With just a few weeks until election day, it’s time for all of us to make sure we are ready to head to the ballot box. Here are 10 things you can do to get vote ready for November 8:

  1. Get registered to vote. You can use our special portal to get started.
  2. Already registered? Double check your voter registration. Visit our portal to learn how.
  3. Visit your local board of elections website for all things voting. Take 10 minutes today to visit your local board of elections websites. Here are links for the DC Board of Elections, the Maryland State Board of Elections, and the Virginia Department of Elections.
  4. Learn about what’s on your ballot. Our friends at the League of Women Voters have created non-partisan voter guides, based on your address. Visit vote411.org to get started.
  5. Know the voter registration deadlines and what to bring on election day. In the DMV, voter registration deadlines and voting ID requirements vary by jurisdiction. We recommend checking out vote411.org or your local election websites to find out about local requirements.
  6. Learn about early voting, absentee voting, or voting by mail or drop box. There are lots of ways to vote. You can vote on election day, vote early, or via mail-in/drop off ballot. However, the rules for each of the options VARY GREATLY by jurisdiction. Do your research early.
  7. Find your polling place, how to request an absentee ballot or where to drop off or mail your ballot. Don’t assume the process or location hasn’t changed since the last election. Polling places and ballot drop off boxes change frequently. You can find this information on your local election websites.
  8. Know your voting rights. Our friends at When We All Vote have a great checklist.
  9. Ask your employer about their policy for time off for voting activities. Many, but not all, employers offer paid time off for voting or to volunteer on election day. Check with your employer about what they offer.
  10. Save the Voter Protection Hotline number. Have questions on Election Day? Call the election protection hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE/866-687-8683. They can help! The hotline is also available in Spanish (888-VE-Y-VOTA); Asian languages (888-API-VOTE); and Arabic (844-YALLA-US).

Have questions? We are here to help. Visit our website to learn more.

So, why does voting matter to us? Why is it an essential part of our mission at the YWCA National Capital Area? As an organization supported by our national office and sister branches across the country, we are committed to ensuring that all women, particularly women of color, are heard, supported, and given a seat at tables that so often exclude them.

This year, YWCA USA surveyed more than 3,300 women and found that the concerns of women are deeply impacted by the continued inequality in our country. According to the survey on ywomenvote.org, 86% of women surveyed agree that it’s important for Congress to dismantle white nationalism and domestic terrorism. And, when it comes to concerns about voting, a majority (83%!) of Black women — across age, political party, and income — believe one of the most critical things legislators must do is put an end to voter suppression laws.

Civic engagement is not only essential to our mission, but to our democracy as well. Your Vote Matters. All voices deserve to be heard. Empowered People Vote. Happy voting from your friends at YWCA National Capital Area.