Fairmount’s recurring spotlight on our expert team of consultants is back from hiatus! This fall, we’ll be introducing readers to staff engaged in the past year, who’ve arguably made the most adaptive shifts to consulting in abnormal times. Jennifer Rubin, Associate, supports community-based and institutional clients through her superior research, writing, and organizational skills, bringing a consultant’s sense of deep curiosity to every engagement. Jenny also models her commitment to equity as a member of Fairmount’s staff-led Social Justice Committee. She earned her B.A. in International Development and Social Change and an M.A. in Community Development and Planning from Clark University. MORE
We usually look askance when someone suggests that the nonprofit sector should function more like the for-profit world, but that doesn’t mean we cannot learn from it. In the for-profit sector, growth through merger or acquisition is one option among several routinely considered in a strategic planning process. Doing so is pro forma. Many companies work towards getting acquired as a means to expand their reach, gain access to needed investment for infrastructure, or attract and retain top talent. Others keep it on the table as a foil to test internal growth options. Yet, nonprofit organizations typically consider merger as a last resort, often only in face of impending financial collapse. To be ‘acquired’ is deemed tantamount to failure in the nonprofit sector.
Why the difference? MORE
Throughout the month of August, you may have seen articles, blog posts, and interviews in honor of Black Philanthropy Month, a global effort to elevate and celebrate Black and African-descent giving. As so much of our work at Fairmount Ventures is rooted in navigating and leveraging philanthropy to strengthen and support the missions of our clients – hundreds of incredible nonprofit organizations spanning the Greater Philadelphia region – these resources have sparked essential conversations about how we operate internally, and how we approach our work. MORE
Fairmount Ventures has been reaching out to nonprofit leaders over the past few months to learn how they are responding to the COVID crisis in order to glean lessons learned to inform the sector. Here’s what we’ve found: leaders who were savvy and forward-thinking before the crisis are bringing that same idea-generation approach to the world they are navigating today. While every organization faces its own amalgam of internal circumstances and external challenges, our team has identified some useful approaches worthy of closer examination. MORE
The current moment begs a difficult question: not, “What are our values?” but, “How do we turn our values into action?”
We like so many others, are realizing – the path to justice is paved with good intentions. We may mean well, but we have to do better.
We stand with those who demand justice for Black lives; those who protest the complex systems of oppression that define our society; those who have suffered at the hands of police brutality and white supremacy; those who work tirelessly to connect communities and support our city’s most vulnerable.
Recently, celebrities and the ultra-rich have been grabbing headlines through pandemic-inspired philanthropic action – from Jack Dorsey, chief executive of Twitter and Square, announcing plans to donate $1 billion to coronavirus relief efforts, to Kynetic executive chairman and Philadelphia 76ers partner Michael Rubin launching the “All In Challenge,” an online fundraising auction leveraging star power in the sports, business, and entertainment sectors to provide food to those in need.
While Rubin is busy securing once-in-a-lifetime celebrity experiences for online bidding from donors like Kevin Hart, Peyton Manning, and Drake, what about the everyday donors, volunteers, and philanthropists who power our local nonprofits and charities? How are the COVID-19 and unfolding economic crises affecting individual giving now, and likely for the foreseeable future?
Fairmount Ventures is committed to supporting our constituents and clients as the world now navigates uncharted territory. We’re keeping our human and furry loved ones close, sharing Zoom pro tips and backgrounds, and working remotely with clients to develop rapid response outreach to their supporters in this moment of urgency and need. In short, we’re digging deep within our 28 years of firm experience and collective expertise to help Philadelphia-area nonprofits navigate the short, medium, and long-term. Here’s some of what we observe, and advise, on what nonprofits need to know this week:
world changes; opportunities arise; internal needs shift. Effective nonprofit
leaders know to redeploy their team, recruit people with specific capabilities,
and sometimes – reluctantly – lay off staff whose skills no longer align with
what is needed in order to make room for others whose do. Staff have job
descriptions, are organized to maximize their talents, and are evaluated to
assess and enhance performance. And yet – when it comes to utilizing volunteers
in major fundraising efforts, how frequently are these same axiomatic management
principles deployed? MORE
day-to-day client work is continually enriched by the skills and insights of
our Research Assistants. Working a flexible 10 hours a week around their
studies, RAs help generate a wide range of data to inform our consulting team’s
strategy recommendations – socio-economic and census information, background on funder grantmaking
priorities and awards, research-informed best practice in the nonprofit sector,
and donor wealth capacity and philanthropic giving history, among others. This
latest spotlight on our team features RA Rachel Urban (Temple University/BS in Community Development
and BA in Economics, December 2019), who shares more about her goals and
experience working at Fairmount Ventures. MORE
Not long ago, we asked the executive of a well-known, established nonprofit what she wanted from her board. “Get me a lot of money and stay out of the way,” she quipped. We both laughed
Nine months later she was