from Marnie Kelly, program associate
This past June marked the end of the third round of Gifford’s ADVANS initiative (Advancing and Developing the Value and Assets of Nonprofits in Syracuse). Participants from ADVANS 3 gathered to celebrate the end of their journey on the evening of June 18th at Dinosaur Barbeque. Over 75 past and present participants along with community members attended the event that was filled with good food, drinks and conversations! The organizations who received their ADVANS 3 certificates of completion that night are: Community Action Partnership of Madison County (CAP), Cooperative Federal, Home HeadQuarters, Interfaith Works and The Samaritan Center. Each organization took a moment to share successes, lessons learned and had an opportunity to mingle with peers.
“We were able to transform our entire agency through the ADVANS process over the past three years, notes Julie Dale, Executive Director of CAP “We revamped our board and our infrastructure and we created marketing materials. It has helped us to take our agency to the next level and has been a phenomenal experience for us.”
The Foundation committed $900,000 to ADVANS 3, allowing these local nonprofits to work with trained consultants on a one to three year intensive assessment and business planning process and then implement capacity building projects.
ADVANS was launched in 2007 as a stage based approach to developing the capacity of organizations in our community. With Susan Kenny Stevens as Lead Consultant, and her book Nonprofit Lifecycles: Stage Based Wisdom for Capacity Building as a model, the program takes a “Lifecycle Approach” to capacity building. “The opportunity to strengthen multiple nonprofits (and their boards and staff) in a particular region and give them a common language and a community of practice empowers them to conduct their services from a position of achievement and strength” notes Susan Kenny Stevens, Lead Consultant.
This framework assumes that, until organizational maturity is reached, a variety of resource and structural incongruities will predictably distract an organization from complete fulfillment of its mission. Organizations participating in the program work with an ADVANS Certified Consultant over the process of three years.
Organizations have been selected on the basis of their missions as well as their readiness to participate in this Initiative. Since its inception in 2007 ADVANS has boasted 18 “graduates” and will add six more to that at the end of 2015, by which time $2,825,533 will have been invested in total.