4 Steps for Facilitating Change

Last weekstep we posted a piece about the importance of theory as it relates to the mission and strategy of your nonprofit organization. This week we’re going to take a closer look at how do theory step-by-step. Charlotte Bunch, an organizer and human rights activist, created a model for theory that includes four parts and ends with strategy.

  1. Description: “Describing what exists” may sound like an easy task, but we can describe an environment or situation in many different ways and each way leads us to create unique theories for how to make change. Bunch uses the example of oppression and how in the past the oppression many minorities faced was not acknowledged but as human rights movements began to use language to frame these problems in a new way more people were able to understand this upsetting reality. It is hard to create change when we have yet to describe the problem.
  2. Analysis: Once we have described the reality then we must “[analyze] why that reality exists”. This means “determining its origins and the reasons for its perpetuation”. Bunch again uses the example of oppression to explain how analysis works. By asking questions like, which groups benefit from oppression? we can begin to understand why groups would want to maintain the current system. Bunch reminds us that there is not usually one root cause for a problem and analysis helps us pinpoint the different factors that contribute to a problem so we have a complex understanding of why something exists the way it does.
  3. Vision: “Determining what should exist” is the next step in theory. What shapes our values and ideas of reality and what do we want that reality to look like in the future? Then we can begin to create specific goals for our vision. Bunch advises that we focus on examining our principles so we are consistent in making decisions about what we want.
  4. Strategy: “Hypothesizing how to change what is to what should be” allows us to enact change in our communities. Bunch suggests “that we draw out the consequences of our theory and suggest general directions for change”. By gathering information, brainstorming ideas, and imagining how those ideas would work in action while we think about what we learned from the Description, Analysis, and Vision steps we are finally able to make change in the world around us in a meaningful way. Strategy is both the planning process and the implementation process. As we do more in the community, we find out what is productive and useful and that influences our strategy moving forward.


Charlotte Bunch. “Not by Degrees: Feminist Theory and Education”. Quest: A Feminist Quarterly.

What’s in store for Philanthropy in 2017?

In the last three months multiple nonprofit and charityphilanthropic publications have published forecasts for 2017.  This post will provide the reader with several popular and credible online resources predicting the future of nonprofits and philanthropy for the year. You’ll notice similar predications from each of the sources but perhaps from slightly different perspectives.  Glance at each, or peruse them to come to your own conclusions.

The Philanthropy and the Social Economy: Blueprint 2017 

For the past eight years Grantcraft, a service of the Foundation Center, has published  an annual industry forecast written by Stanford scholar and self-described philanthropy wonk, Lucy Bernholz. This year she addresses two major concerns:

  1. Boundaries between philanthropic and political activity are blurring as civil society’s norms of privacy and anonymity are used to shield political activity, which should be transparent in a democracy.
  2. Government surveillance and the commercial ownership of civil society’s digital infrastructure combine to threaten our rights to free expression and association.

You can download the full report, insights, forecasts, and worksheets, as well as past years here.

Philanthropy Forecast, 2017:Trends and Issues to Watch

Inside Philanthropy, was founded by David Callahan in 2013, as an online news website for the nonprofit sector which focuses on transparency and accountability in philanthropy.  This forecast is their second annual post with predications for the upcoming year covering twenty-five issues facing the third sector. Some of those topics include “how both the rising of supply and demand is changing the balance of power between key sectors of  U.S. society. More funders are stepping forward, even as government is pulling back”.

Five Trends in Philanthropy for 2017

The Council on Foundations posted their forecast in mid-December stating that “2017 will be a year of change, as orthodoxies in the field get tested and philanthropy steps up and into a more prominent national role”.

The Future of Philanthropy Looks Bright: 2017-2018 Charitable Growth Predictions

The Lilly Family School of Philanthropy has published  The Philanthropy Outlook which forecasts total giving, examines changes in giving by source, and highlights specific subsectors such as education, health, and public-society benefit.


Job Opportunity – Wellspring Interfaith Social Services Executive Director

Position Title: Executive Director, Wellspring Interfaith Social Services (Wellspring)

Posting Date: February 9, 2017

Reports to: Board of DirectorsWellspring Interfaith

Closing Date: March 15, 2017

Compensation: Competitive

Organization History/Background: Wellspring’s roots began in 1968 when five downtown congregations (Emmanuel Lutheran, First Presbyterian, St. John’s United Church of Christ, Trinity English Lutheran and Wayne Street Methodist) plus the YWCA joined together to bring it to life – known then as West Central Neighborhood Committee. At its inception, the main purpose was providing summer programs for youth who lived in Fort Wayne’s West Central neighborhood.

In June 2004, the name was changed to Wellspring Interfaith Social Services, in part because the organization was serving a much broader population base than just the West Central area. Over 80% of those who take part in Wellspring programs live within a 2.5 mile radius of the downtown area. From the early years, the organization quickly expanded to offer a variety of programs that focus on the educational, social, physical and recreational needs of children, youth and adults.

Today, Wellspring has a capable team of fifteen staff and two hundred volunteers that served 6,377 people in 2016. A high percentage of those were involved with Wellspring on an ongoing basis. The Wellspring budget has grown to more than $900,000 through a strong emphasis on program evaluation and innovation and exceptional relationships with funders and donors. Wellspring is located in the midst of the exciting downtown Fort Wayne revitalization. Key programs include the Older Adult Program, Summer Day Camp, After School Program, Parent Club, Food Bank and Wellspring Shoppe, a free clothing bank. Continue reading

Job Opportunity – Women’s Bureau Positions


Residential Assistant Position (part-time)

The Residential Assistant (RA) – provides supportive services to women recovering from substance abuse in a residential treatment facility. This individual must be skilled in documenting information, handling client issues and complaints, and providing basic customer service to clients and guests. Duties include but are not limited to: maintaining a professional environment; providing positive feedback to clients as needed; completing referrals, progress and corrective action forms; monitoring and accurately documenting client medication intake; documenting daily room checks; observing and documenting client behavior and activities; assigning and verifying completion of residential chores, answering and directing telephone calls; serving as a point of contact to clients and guests; inventory management, and transportation of clients using a company vehicle. RA’s may be called on to oversee the clients’ children for short periods of time on occasion. Facility operates 24/7 and is staffed accordingly. RAs work every other weekend and every other holiday.

This is a part-time position averaging 20-24 hours/week. Every effort is made to set regular weekly schedules, but occasional changes must be made to cover openings for staff vacancies and/or days off. You may be asked to work additional hours to cover these times. Current openings are for evening and night shifts.

Position offers a great opportunity to gain experience in the field of addictions, necessary for more advanced positions. Continue reading

Mission, Strategy, and Theory

Do you ever have moments when you are unsure which direction you should go to reach your goals? What event or program will help you come closer to making the change you want to see in the community?

When you are struggling to decide which step is best for your nonprofit it is important to think about the theory behind your organization’s mission.

What is theory? Theory is the process of “asking reflexive questions about how things work and how they might work differently.”theory-practice

Theory is directly related to strategy. Once you know the mission of your nonprofit you cannot organize events simply because you have good intentions thinking that each event will directly contribute to your goals. You must take the time to think critically about the impact of each event and how it fits into your long-term plans.

“The purpose of theory is not to provide a pat set of answers about what to do, but to guide us in sorting out options, and to keep us out of the “any action/no action” bind. Theory also keeps us aware of the questions that need to be asked, so that what we learn in each activity will lead to more effective strategies in the future. Theory thus both grows out of and guides activism in a continuous and spiraling process.”

What does theory look like in practice? One example would be an organization that works to prevent sexual violence against women. Should they spend time fundraising to start a rape crisis center in the area or should they direct their efforts toward changing rape laws in the state? By asking themselves questions like, What is the immediate impact? What is the long-term impact? How long will it take? Are service projects more effective? Or is changing legislation the priority? Discussing possible answers and ideas helps this organization make decisions that align with what they believe to be the best way to help their communities.

Does your nonprofit already work to develop theory related to your mission? Did you realize you were doing theory when you practice critical reflection?


Jeffrey Nealon and Susan Searls Giroux. “Why Theory?”. The Theory Toolbox.
Charlotte Bunch. “Not by Degrees: Feminist Theory and Education”. Quest: A Feminist Quarterly.

Nonprofit Updates from the IRS

irsYou may want to skip this post based on the title. However, you know you need to read it and rest assured it will be worth your time.

Short and sweet – the IRS recently updated and released the Form 990-EZ with a new help feature. In the 4 page form, there are small question mark icons. By clicking on the icon, you’d see a help display window. There are 29 of these question mark help icons and address common mistakes that small to mid size nonprofits make when filling out the form. This feature was created to help organizations file a more complete return and reduce the chances of the IRS contacting you. There is also a 47 page document with instructions on filling out the Form 990-EZ if that is helpful to you.

To find the Form 990-EZ with the new help feature and the Instructions for Form 990-EZ click here.

Keep at it – A Fundraiser’s Journey

A Fundraiser’s JourneyKelly pic

Kelly Updike for PCNRC

Two separate instances have converged in my head. Ouch!

The first is from a meeting with Dan Swartz, he of Wunderkammer Company. Dan is planning his second annual Design Week, for which he has obtained a sizeable grant to pay for speakers and marketing. This has given him the freedom to obtain great speakers to participate. People who are significant to their field in a national and even world-class way. Some have local ties to this region.

Dan says he just asks. He figures out how to contact the person, by email or through an assistant, and he asks. He says the person will usually reply and is gracious. Sometimes the person says yes, which means Design Week will again have some phenomenal speakers.

The second is from the My City Summit organized by Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana (YLNI). This year’s theme was diversity. At this event, too, the speakers were local and national, all terrific.

I left this event thinking about our roles in these changing times. We are cranky, according to the keynote speaker, Rich Benjamin. Another speaker, Fort Wayne’s own Courtney Tritch, pointed out that diversity is a needed economic driver. People move to areas where there is freedom and respect for all. Each speaker asked us what we were doing about it.

On the surface these two meetings were very different. But they both ended up in the same place in my mind:

It does not matter where you are politically, uppercase R or D. What matters is that we work every day to make a difference. Our organizations in particular directly impact others.

What are we going to do to help others continue through these times?

We ask and then we ask again. Simply, purely, clearly. As fundraisers. As advocates. As caregivers. As artists. As one human being to another.

Ask. Don’t stop asking.


The postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Embassy or the PCNRC.