Nonprofits have a great need to build and enhance their team’s skills. But organizational and leadership professional development can be expensive. There are rarely funds to spare for this type of training, no matter how critical it is. Ignoring staff development needs can ultimately harm your organization and its ability to fulfill its mission. So, what’s the solution? Capacity Builders, Inc. (CBI), a 501(c)3 nonprofit operating out of Farmington, NM, has solved the problem by offering free and low-cost workshops that result in a certification and an increased knowledge and the ability to serve for both their staff and external community members.
CBI’s mission is to build the capacity of the neediest tribal nonprofits and communities through training and support programs so they are better able to improve the lives of Native American youth and families. CBI does this through a variety of direct services including curriculum facilitation, community training, job-startup programs, and coalition building. When brainstorming how to offer their staff more professional growth opportunities, the CBI team realized that their community training programs could do double duty for their organization. Offering organizational development workshops to other nonprofits serving tribal communities was already a fundamental component of the organization’s sustainability efforts. The agency decided that they would train their staff on workshop facilitation as a way to foster agency leaders, develop their team’s facilitation skills, and create additional value within each employee.
The expansion of CBI’s workshops to include facilitation training for staff has strengthened the organization and expanded the value it brings to the community it serves.
Workshop Facilitation in Action: Increase Your Reach, Strengthen Your Sustainability Plan
How do facilitating workshops support an organization’s sustainability efforts? Community members who attend workshops either receive a certificate or additional knowledge to share with their colleagues, families, and supervisors. Passing along knowledge gained through workshops allows for community change agents to spread the information and services across other sectors that may not be reachable for the organization. The work can continue once there is a body of individuals or agencies that received the credential or training by attending and completing your workshops. For example, CBI offers a Youth Mental Health First Aid Certification. This 8-hour workshop is free to all community agencies, schools, businesses, and individuals. The goal of the workshop is to train 600 community members as Youth Mental Health First Aid Responders over the course of three years. Once all 600 individuals receive training, there will be a small army of folks who now have the knowledge and ability to respond and assist youth experiencing mental distress, self-harm, or other challenges. 600 people! This massively increases the program and service reach. Think if workshops were not provided and Capacity Builders’ staff were the only Youth Mental Health First Aiders in the community? The reach would be minimal and the capacity near impossible. Knowledge sharing is a vital component to a program or organization’s sustainability efforts.
The Bigger Picture: Partnership Development
As an organization facilitating workshops for the greater community, Capacity Builders cashes in on the opportunity for partnership development. Workshop attendees may be from other nonprofits doing similar work as your organization, school administrators, social workers, mental health professionals, and other individuals that may be a missing piece to successful program implementation. There is a tremendous opportunity for making meaningful introductions to expand program reach and achieve significant outcomes. The key is to make genuine connections with your workshop attendees that support a real give-and-take relationship, rather than only engaging with them when you have an ulterior motive (i.e. a MOU that needs to be signed). Workshops provide an opportunity during short breaks or lunch to talk about aligned outcomes and services and speak more in-depth about ways in which agencies can partner and coordinate efforts in the ‘now’ and the future. Once the synergy is established with trainees and a set of peers, continue to nurture it.
Nonprofit Success 101: Reaching Outcomes through Workshop Facilitation
Whether your organization is funded through grants, private donations, fundraisers, or a combination thereof, funders want to see that their contribution is successful and impactful. Training staff and community members can increase your manpower and therefore your ability to achieve your objectives. Facilitating workshops for your organization and your community is an effective way to professionally grow your staff, develop partnerships, meet organizational objectives, and increase the overall public value of your organization. Empower your staff and the greater community to engage in the work to be done!