How multi-year Catapult investments helped strengthen and streamline Community Food Share and WOW! Children’s Museum outputs
Social Venture Partners (SVP) Boulder County’s multi-year Catapult program – our longest-running initiative – strengthens local nonprofits from the inside out. From board governance and leadership development to strategy, fundraising, communications, technology, and more, Catapult is a pro bono business consulting investment that – over the last three years, June 2016 to November 2019 – helped Community Food Share and WOW! Children’s Museum more fully deliver on their missions.
For Community Food Share, the Catapult program helped align their board and staff around a new strategic plan, resulting in a greater focus on delivering the organization’s mission, and more definition to its collaborative approach. As well, SVP’s investment achieved greater community awareness of the work and impact of Community Food Share, also helping to dispel myths about what hunger looks like in our community. (Learn more in a detailed report on our partnership.)
Said Julia McGee, Director of Communications, Community Food Share: “SVP Boulder County helped us create our first-ever strategic plan, which provides a five-year roadmap to our work as a leader in local hunger relief. We also completed a successful rebrand, invested in board recruitment and development, analyzed and revamped our corporate fundraising strategy, and several of our leadership staff have benefited from executive coaching.
“Thanks to the strategic plan, we’re investing time into understanding our participants’ needs and their preferences. We’re identifying the barriers that prevent them from accessing food. And our network will develop and support programs that work from these insights.”
To date, Community Food Share – addressing hunger in Boulder and Broomfield counties for the past nearly four decades by providing access to fresh, nutritious food through a network of local partners and pantries – has distributed enough food to provide some 122 million meals.
Added McGee, “Due to limited resources, nonprofit leaders often don’t have access to coaching and self-improvement. I really appreciated stepping away from my day-to-day responsibilities to benefit from the safe space that SVP coaching provided me – it was a unique opportunity to be open about challenges and opportunities with a neutral party, and to grow and become more accountable as a leader.
“Through SVP Boulder County, I had the opportunity to work with a seasoned professional who guided, informed, and advised me according to best practices … every step of the way. It was an incredibly gratifying learning experience for me that also resulted in our clients feeling more welcome and respected.
“The breadth of experience and depth of talent of the SVP Partners with whom we worked— it’s a caliber of professional services that we would otherwise not have access to.”
Indeed, SVP Partners – local philanthropic changemakers committed to ensure a thriving nonprofit community – both financially contribute and volunteer their time and experience toward strengthening the confidence and capacity of community nonprofits and their leaders.
For WOW! Children’s Museum, the Catapult program resulted in “a big re-focusing,” according to Vicky Johns, SVP Lead Partner working with WOW!. “The organization is now more clearly and intentionally education-focused, including greater outreach to our Latino community,” she said. “WOW! is primed to bring to life its early childhood vision, and to raise its profile in the community – especially among donors. The museum has really begun to shift toward more of a fundraising board, which is incredibly important for this organization.
“It was an exciting time to be partnering with the museum, just as they’re on the cusp of getting to the next level in terms of their role and impact in the community.” (Learn more in a detailed report on our partnership.)
Agreed Darcy Morel, WOW! Interim Executive Director and Development Director, “As a nonprofit participant in SVP’s Catapult program, we were able to step back and recognize our strengths – as well as work through some of our weaknesses.
“SVP helped us identify where we could make improvements quickly – like tightening our processes, policies, and financial checks and balances according to best practices. Through the Catapult program, we also developed longer-term strategies and projects, including shaping and strengthening our fundraising efforts. Throughout, we received the expertise we needed to structure and facilitate focus groups, better support and develop our board, and think more strategically.
“SVP Boulder County is an incredible support system. We would never have been able to pay for and benefit from the financial coaching, fundraising coaching and board development coaching we received from SVP Partners.”
Added Jennifer Hinderliter, former WOW! Executive Director, “It became clear that we needed to reevaluate what it means to do our exhibits and programming really well, and to reprioritize our work accordingly. SVP-led focus groups proved to be a successful way of gathering important feedback from community members and, as a result, strengthening our relationships with community partners.
“We learned that we needed to concentrate our communications efforts to directly connect with the Latino community, including increasing our Spanish language communications.”
In response, the museum created a Latino communications and outreach plan, launched new cultural events, and hired bilingual guest services staff. “We saw a 60% increase in the number of families signing up for our discounted Play for All membership program – a primary measure of our success,” Hinderliter said. “SVP’s active involvement really spurred our organization into action.”
“We know what it takes for our nonprofit participants to better deliver on their missions,” said Jennie Arbogash, CEO, SVP Boulder County. “Through the Catapult program, our clients benefit from the time, energy, and experience of our members – as well as cash grants to support staff time – to create mighty changes inside their organizations that lead to overall social change.”
For more information about SVP Boulder County and the impact of the Catapult program on local community-serving organizations, contact Spencer Downing at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303.840.0165.