Tag Archives: not-for-profit

Riding the Information Tidal Wave

17 Sep

P3_Logo_FINAL-B&W1Quite by accident I ended up having dinner with friends and a Connecticut sculptor/university professor and his wife. The conversation moved from art to students and then to history. Along the way we strayed into my favorite subject; information overload. For the professor, the availability of a wealth of information was mitigated by students with little or no ability to locate primary source material, determine the validity of the information or critique and analyze resources to support their theses.

In fact, information overload can make it more difficult to locate relevant information in a timely manner, let alone understand and digest it enough to use it to make informed decisions. Organizations, as well as human beings, face the same challenge. This is especially true of organizations in the non-profit sector where the need for services often exceeds the available resources.

P3 faces the same challenge, too much information and not enough time to process it, let alone draw meaningful correlations to our mission and goals. There are reams or terabytes of facts, figures, charts, graphs, research, grants and news that might prove to be instrumental in our journey towards empowering young people but we don’t have the time, energy and wherewithal to always do what we desire.

The P3 board is going on a retreat to determine our next steps. If you would like to join us drop me an email and I will give you details. If you have something valid to add to the community of people pushing this organization forward but cannot attend, let me know so that we can include you in the team of people necessary to make this organization a thriving vital part of the community.


Pay It Forward

4 Mar

Years ago I read an article in the Atlantic Magazine that offered some insight into political capital. The author, William Schneider, said “The rule about political capital is, when you’ve got it, spend it, because you can’t hold on to it.” The popular definition of political capital usually refers to the power that popularity or media coverage confers upon a politician or someone in power.

There is also human, social and intellectual capital. Human capital refers to the value that people, often employees, bring to an organization through their skills and knowledge. Social capital is thought of as the social interactions and relationships that glue us together. Intellectual capital, a term most often employed in business environments, includes human capital, structural capital or process infrastructure that allows us to support what we do, and relational capital, that which links an organization to suppliers and customers. 

Before you drift off, thinking this is another business meeting in a stuffy conference room where a talking head is discussing short and long term business goals, think about P3. We have assets and, though these assets are not cash, they are spendable. Our assets are human capital, social capital and most recently, intellectual capital. We have formed a board, assessed our financial situation, and have undertaken the often thankless task of developing processes to move forward. By spending a little of our capital, we have had assistance in creating logos and letterhead.

Our assets can give us a distinct competitive advantage if we are willing to spend them. We need to distinguish ourselves in the landscape of non-profits with good intentions but little or no business or marketing acumen. We have the people and we have the mission so in the next few weeks we are going to spend a little capital and ask that you do the same.

P3 will be hosting several events, one after work and another after a performance. Our capital expenditure will be volunteer time, expertise and sweat equity while yours needs to be cash. We need money to move this plan forward and while we would love to find a couple of big donors, for the time being we are going to be coming to you, our friends, co-workers and family. Invest in a better tomorrow. Whatever part of our mission resonates with you, get out your checkbook and spend a little on the future of Austin.


Fast Forward

12 Jul

As children we wanted everything to go faster; from the time we took our first steps to the moment we danced across the stage with our college diploma in hand. Somewhere, weeks or months after that event, we suddenly realized that we wanted time to slow down; we were no longer in such a hurry. We began to see the benefit of taking our time, enjoying the journey, and savoring the moment.

 Now as we approach the opportunities and possibilities that P3 / Pyramid Player’s Productions offers to us, both personally and as a community, we are suddenly seized by the need to rush headlong into the service portion of organization’s mission. While the desire for action is commendable, it is equally important that we build a foundation for the organization. Far too many non-profits fail, not because they did not have a strong mission, but because they failed to attend to the up-front organizational and structural work necessary for long-term stability and growth.

 We need a business plan with the requisite financial forecasting and a written and verbal vision plan as well as a final version of the mission statement. There needs to be a logo available for the board to use on correspondence, newsletters, blogs and other branded material. Committees need to be formed, chairs appointed, tasks assigned and due dates for deliverables determined. All of these items, and many more, need to be done deliberately, methodically and a little slower than we might like.

 Ralph Waldo Emerson said that nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm but good planning allows enthusiasm to be channeled into great decisions.

Where Do We Begin?

2 Jul

There are two types of people; those who read the instructions, lay out all the tools and parts, and begin to assemble everything, and those that simply grab the pieces and begin to put them together. It is easy to see both kinds when a group assembles a jigsaw puzzle; some people separate the edge pieces and the colors according to the image on the lid of the box while others simply find two pieces that fit together and are off and running.

It is much the same with building an organizational board. You need the list makers and note takers, as well as the dreamers and risk-takers. All of these people bring a mix of the very best skills that will serve to make your organization successful. There are two components that should be considered.

 First, the organization should consider if they have all the skills they need. I once interviewed at a creative start-up company. It came down to me and one other person. At that point, the two owners asked each of us to take a personality test. We did and they hired her instead of me. They explained that they needed someone who was not like them in order to keep them in check and that I had scored too high on the creative side while she had scored higher on the side of rational judgment. There are decks of cards that organizations sometimes use to identify the resources that people bring as well as the skills that people either don’t have or don’t want to use. It can be fun to discover that everyone in the group wants to provide the services and no one wants to create the infrastructure needed but it can ultimately bring an organization to its knees.

At the same time, the organization must make serving on the board personally satisfying for each individual. It would be wonderful to believe that humans operate on a purely altruistic plane of existence but we all want something. In the case of serving on a board of directors, individuals may want the experience of serving, may have a vested interest in the outcome or mission, may believe in the leader, or may simply want to participate in something with purpose or meaning. It is important that individuals honestly identify their reason for participation as this can be an important motivation for a higher level of commitment. In turn, the organization must be able to agree to help them attain their personal goals while asking them to operate as part of a cohesive organism with a shared vision towards fulfilling the organization’s mission.

 P3 or Pyramid Player’s Productions is on a mission to “Raise Jewels”; with the help, commitment, expertise and support of its board, there is an amazing opportunity to nurture the talent of so many young people as well as build upon the wealth in our communities.