Print Page | Contact Us | Report Abuse | Sign In | Join
News & Information: National Nonprofit News

How National Nonprofits Can Help Meet Local Needs

Friday, December 1, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Kathleen Thomas
Share |

How National Nonprofits Can Help Meet Local Needs
By Jack Kosakowski | Nov. 27, 2017
Click Here for the original article from Forbes Nonprofit Council 

“All politics is local” is a famous saying by late Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill, who believed the success or failure of elected representatives had more to do with how the constituents in their home districts viewed their job performance than what was happening nationally.

Based on my experience, I believe nonprofits also tend to be evaluated more on what happens at the local level than what is occurring nationally, even if we are talking about national nonprofits with a local presence. As the head of a national nonprofit, I’ve had my share of conversations with funders who prefer to support locally based efforts rather than national initiatives specifically for that reason. Given this, how does a national nonprofit continue to meet the needs of a community in a way that satisfies local supporters?

Like many nonprofits, Junior Achievement (JA) has what is known as a federated structure. We have more than 100 offices across the country that operate not unlike franchises. This results in a certain level of autonomy that presents both challenges and benefits to the organization. The challenges include a fairly decentralized structure that requires extra diligence when it comes to consistency, quality control and communication. At the same time, the benefits include flexibility that helps a national nonprofit be more agile in meeting the needs of local communities.


Whether or not a national nonprofit is federated, I believe there are takeaways from the model that can benefit any national organization working to address local impact. These include:

Local Ownership

The big push in recent years has been toward the creation of national nonprofits that are predominantly web-based. While this approach has certain advantages, one of which can include a lower operating cost, the model doesn’t always lend itself to a sense of ownership, especially from a local level. Promoting local ownership is critical to a national nonprofit’s success. This includes help in fostering the engagement of community leaders on local boards of directors. It’s ideal that the board has responsibility for hiring and managing the local nonprofit staff, as well. This kind of involvement helps ensure the sense of community ownership necessary for long-term success.

Responsiveness To Community Needs

Consistency and quality control are critical, but it’s important to allow some flexibility in the model so that local affiliates can make adjustments within clear guidelines to meet pressing needs in the community. At Junior Achievement, we have an R&D process that allows local offices to incorporate local buy-in for program development, as long as it fits JA’s delivery model of using volunteers to promote financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship education. That said, flexibility would never extend to a radical departure from the organization mission. For example, diverting from our educational purpose to assist with disaster relief would not be encouraged.

Latitude In Brand Messaging

In this age of segment marketing and persona mapping, the “elevator pitch” – that 15-second spiel that works for everyone – is an endangered species. It’s now about who is in the elevator with you and figuring out what they want. While consistency of brand messaging is essential, it’s important to give local representatives some latitude in how they present the brand within their community. As I mentioned previously, JA focuses on financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship. In some communities, financial literacy is the priority. In others, it’s work readiness or entrepreneurship. Still others, work readiness means STEM education -- or financial literacy is talked about in terms of financial capability or financial wellness. It’s important to have the national brand be broad enough to be understood but malleable enough to be honed for specific audiences.

The greatest value for a national nonprofit remaining connected with the communities it serves is that it helps ensure the organization endures. At JA, we are fortunate to be coming upon our centennial in 2019. The credit for that rests with the countless community leaders who have supported the organization in cities and towns across the country during the past century.

 

Click Here for the original article from Forbes Nonprofit Council 



the following may contain paid advertisements

Click Here for paid advertising opportunities.Acceptance of paid advertisements does not constitute an endorsement of the individual, business or organization by the Alliance.

©2017 Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits. All Rights Reserved.

Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits
360 E Coronado Road, Suite 120
Phoenix, AZ 85004
602-279-2966