Quarterly Conversations, Sharing Solutions

Quarterly Conversations, Sharing Solutions

Kaki Rusmore, Director, Center for NonprofitBy Kaki Rusmore, Director, Center for Nonprofit Excellence of the Community Foundation for Monterey County

Quarterly Conversations are opportunities to address topics not usually discussed in nonprofit forums. In March 2019, we gathered to discuss “Engaging Who We Serve to Create Solutions”. Anyone from the nonprofit community is invited to join us at the next discussion on June 20, 2019: “#MeToo in Nonprofits: Sexual Harassment in Nonprofit Organizations and What to Do About It”.

Hearing from Those We Serve

Gathering end user and partner feedback and making it a part of the way we work has become our innovation engine, influencing changes to our systems, services, and even our business model.” – Frank Diadone & Belinda Samuels – the Nurse-Family Partnership

Does your organization hear directly from the people it serves? Why would you want to, and how might it affect your organization?
Local nonprofit staff and volunteers recently gathered at a Quarterly Conversation to discuss the value, impact and methods for hearing what the people we serve have to say. Representing organizations from legal services to health, education and end-of-life care, participants in this peer discussion offered some of the following perspectives:

  • Being more systematic about hearing from the people we serve can help us tailor our work, even by making small changes, to be more effective.
  • This is about building relationships, and we need to show that we want those relationships to be reciprocal, not just us giving services.
  • We need to think creatively about how to connect with our end-users, so they are comfortable sharing their ideas. Online forms, text responses, even Instagram may offer possibilities for some groups of people, but the most important thing is to show that we really want to hear what people have to say.
  • We need to use every opportunity, every event, every contact as a way to build that mutual communication, not just us talking at people.
  • It’s important for the leadership of organizations to show that what we hear from people matters.
  • We need to think about how we work collaboratively with others, recognize that people from many different situations can help move our common goals forward, and whose voice needs to be heard for change to happen.

The people we serve are the ones closest to the issues and often the ones with the most creative and effective ideas for solutions. Listening deeply can help us move towards making the changes we really hope to see in the community.” – Kaki Rusmore

Additional Resources

The Quarterly Conversations grew out of the Monterey Bay Capacity Builders Network and offer an opportunity to discuss topics that may not be in our regular nonprofit conversations.