Note from Beth: I first learned about this project last year, when Shiree Teng, the project leader, interviewed me as part of some research on capacity building consultants that lead to the design of ImpactRising. ImpactRising.org helps to make standards of practice explicit, so that social sector organizations like nonprofits, NGOs and foundations don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Designed to support social sector organizations and consultants with tools and resources to get ready for engagement in capacity-building projects, ImpactRising.org aims to help make the consulting sector stronger. Ultimately, ImpactRising.org presses for greater transparency and accountability and aims to raise the level of consulting quality in the social sector.
The project partners include Shiree Teng, Groupaya, and Compasspoint. The project is funded by the Packard Foundation, Hewlett Foundation, and The Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund.
Christi Tran, a capacity building consultant and site architect for the project, offered to write this post about her own experience and what ImpactRising.org hopes to accomplish.
Paying it forward and Impact Rising – Guest Post by Christi Tran
I was invited to blog about the launch of ImpactRising.org, a new resource for nonprofits and social sector consultants intended to support their organizational capacity building efforts, build a vibrant community of practitioners, and ultimately grow impact across the sector. First though, I want to dedicate this post to one of my hero philanthropists, whose spirit ImpactRising’s work strives to embody.
A model of generosity
Earlier this week, I woke up to learn that Dan had passed peacefully in his sleep at 89.
I met Dan when I was 20 and running a program for immigrant families. Broke and living in community housing, I came home one evening to find my room burgled, my laptop and cash savings gone.
By luck, I was introduced by my roommate’s father’s friend’s colleague to a scholarship program that supported low-income students of color complete college (networks have a way of being pretty darn powerful). Dan was the sole anonymous donor for the program, which brushed off my indignity and furnished me with a new laptop, a mentor, and monthly checks for books, food and travel.
When I graduated, I was shocked to find out that Dan had forgiven all my school loans. It made a critical difference at an important moment in my life, and it enabled me to pursue a career in the social sector over something more instantly lucrative.
Dan believed that “just a little financial help and encouragement” could facilitate our ability to do extraordinary things with our lives. Always fervently believing in our capacity to be leaders in our communities, he only asked that we be productive and give back.
Paying it forward: ImpactRising.org
Dan’s philanthropy – spirited, timely, meaningful, knowing, and selfless – taught me an important lesson about capacity-building: That with just a little guidance and support, individuals, nonprofits, and their networks are capable of doing extraordinary things in their communities.
Today, I’m doing my best to “paying it forward” as a social sector consultant, and in this role, I’m learning that consultants can play an important role as guiders and supporters to changemakers. We’re responsible both for uplifting the expertise of their clients as well as for ensuring that the right resources, tools, information and networks are available to leaders and organizations at the right time so that they can get one step closer to achieving their missions.
In that spirit, I’m excited to introduce ImpactRising.org as a resource to nonprofits and the consultants they work with.
Nonprofits aren’t created the same; they can sometimes reflect the communities they serve and empower, facing similar resource and capacity challenges. And not all of them have equal access to meaningful and timely resources, making access to high quality support and guidance all the more critical. The product of many brilliant and giving social change leaders – including Shiree Teng, Groupaya, and CompassPoint – ImpactRising.org was created to provide free resources and support social sector organizations and consultants with tools and resources to prepare for, engage in, and be successful on capacity-building projects.
Additionally, our funders – The Packard Foundation, The Hewlett Foundation, and the Haas, Jr. Fund – wanted to strengthen the social sector consulting industry and to support nonprofits to be better consumers of consultants. ImpactRising.org gets us closer by pressing for greater transparency and accountability from consultants.
What ImpactRising.org offers
- Tools and resources: Find tools for working with consultants as well as organizational capacity-building tools and resources, such as strategic planning or social media
- Interactive community: Engage with others in this work, via a discussion forum, articles, blog and wiki (hosted by the Packard Foundation)
- Bill of Rights and Responsibilities: Use the Bill of Rights to empower both social sector consultants and their nonprofit clients by establishing clear expectations and ensuring an engagement is effective—and to bring out the best in both
The pursuit of social change is far bigger than any one of us. That’s why it’s all the more important to find the most effective ways to support one another – with commitment, determination and compassion – and to do our best to be generous in empowering each other in our work together.
That’s the what Dan taught me, at least. I think he’d be proud.
An experienced nonprofit leader and consultant, Christi Tran has created strategies, launched new organizations and programs, facilitated workshops and trainings, and conducted research and evaluation for nonprofits and foundations, both big and small. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.