In a 1966 speech, Robert Kennedy famously referred to an alleged Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times.”

We certainly live in interesting times. Even though that saying has no known connection to China (an example of something becoming “fact” merely by being repeated a lot), its ironic meaning is clear to most folks. “Interesting times” are a double-edged sword.

We’re all fortunate to have so many great nonprofits tackling huge challenges like poverty, climate change, public health, and building community, while the world churns.

Clients Aiming High

Looking back on 2015, Public Interest Management Group’s clients are truly an inspiring bunch. Here are a few examples:

Washington State Farmers Market Association has a new business plan to help it support the educational, management and outreach needs of its members, who promote local agriculture and nutrition at the community level.

Cascade AIDS Project, in Portland, and the Pacific AIDS Network, in British Columbia, are navigating system changes in HIV treatment and funding, examining creative ways to re-engineer services and build on great success over recent decades.

On the environmental front, three dynamic conservation groups – Lower Nehalem Community Trust, North Olympic Land Trust and Washington Water Trust – are implementing strategies for growth and sustainability in the face of environmental crisis.

Youth from Lower Nehalem Community Trust’s day camp spend the morning harvesting their lunch in the community garden, which has provided over 1,700  pounds of organic produce this year to a local food bank in Tillamook County, Oregon. PIMG worked with the Trust on organizational development strategy this year. Photo by Gary Seelig.

Youth from Lower Nehalem Community Trust’s day camp spend the morning harvesting their lunch in the community garden, which has provided over 1,700  pounds of organic produce this year to a local food bank in Tillamook County, Oregon. PIMG worked with the Trust on organizational development strategy this year. Photo by Gary Seelig.

It’s been an inspiring year in the housing sector, too. The National Community Land Trust Network and Cornerstone Partnership, a program of Arlington-based Capital Impact Partners, are merging to form a powerful new force for inclusive community development across the U.S. In the north country, a new strategic alliance between Greater Fox Cities Area Habitat for Humanity and Rebuilding Together, in Wisconsin, will improve the efficiency of community-based housing services.

Volunteers with Greater Fox Cities Area Habitat for Humanity construct a house for low-income residents in their Wisconsin community. PIMG has worked with Habitat and its partner, Rebuilding Together, to develop a strategic alliance around low-income housing.

Volunteers with Greater Fox Cities Area Habitat for Humanity construct a house for low-income residents in their Wisconsin community. PIMG has worked with Habitat and its partner, Rebuilding Together, to develop a strategic alliance around low-income housing.

Walking the Talk

Just as strategic alliances can help nonprofits increase their impact, PIMG has worked with with several organizations to serve the sector.  In partnership with La Piana Consulting, we developed a financial model for the California College Guidance Initiative, helping that organization define how it will aid over one million high school students access college over the next five years. Supporting Olive Grove, PIMG helped two San Francisco arts education organizations, Performing Arts Workshop and Leap, consolidate administrative operations, a creative approach to boosting efficiency. And the Pacific AIDS Network engagement, above, is led by Third Sector Company.

When Pilots Take Off

Speaking of partnerships, we completed a landmark project this year, the pilot study of our new Success Factor Analysis methodology, in cooperation with the Nonprofit Association of Oregon. Fifteen diverse nonprofits with budgets ranging from $350k to $35 million participated. Read this earlier blog entry for a summary of the project, which has great potential to help the nonprofit sector understand best management practices.

The World Forestry Center participated in PIMG’s 2015 organizational assessment pilot. Here, executive director Eric Vines (back row center)  takes a photo-op with participants in WFC’s International Educators Institute.

The World Forestry Center participated in PIMG’s 2015 organizational assessment pilot. Here, executive director Eric Vines (back row center)  takes a photo-op with participants in WFC’s International Educators Institute.

Make Time for Face-time

PIMG presented workshops at the Alliance for Nonprofit Management conference, the national Land Trust Alliance Rally, and nonprofit executive training sessions in Seattle and Portland this year. These experiences are great reminders of how creative and engaged nonprofit leaders are.

Only as Good as Your Team

PIMG is blessed with terrific associate consultants who lend expertise in everything from finance and accounting to market research to governance practices. This is a team effort all the way around, and I’m proud to work with such a talented cadre of folks!

So Now What?

Public Interest Management Group’s work is about building strong and sustainable nonprofits, and helping our clients adapt to change and grow. We draw on effective management practices and use analytic methods to build and test scenarios. Our clients are moving forward through data-based strategies, inspired leadership and savvy operations. These will be big themes in 2016 too. 

Great things lie around the bend, but for now, let’s take a deep breath and appreciate the interesting times we live in, and the transformational work we’re doing together.

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AuthorScott Schaffer