Giving Back: The Community Consulting Project

The Community Consulting ProjectThe Community Consulting Project (CCP) is part of the Organization Development Network of Oregon. On a pro bono basis, it helps nonprofit organizations with leadership, strategic planning and other organization development goals. Its core team members are Dan Vetter, Jen Birk, Sarah Groshell, Tom Robertson and Dave Moyle.

Jathan Janove: What is CCP’s mission?

Dan Vetter: To promote the growth and learning of organizations within our community by providing quality pro bono OD Consulting for eligible organizations. The program also seeks to provide a rich learning experience for participating consultants. Through this growth and learning, our ultimate objective is to help these worthy non-profits become more effective at delivering on their missions.

Jathan Janove: Describe the services CCP provides.

Dan Vetter: CCP is an outreach program sponsored by the Organization Development Network of Oregon (ODN-OR). CCP brings together dynamic, short-term teams of OD professionals to provide pro-bono consulting to Portland-area non-profit organizations unable to afford consulting services. We have provided consulting assistance with:

  • Leadership
  • Organization structure and culture
  • Board development
  • Strategy, goals, planning
  • Interpersonal/team conflict
  • Organizational processes and systems
  • Performance measures/rewards
  • Learning and building human capacity

Our approach to OD consulting is facilitative. We help each client organization ask good questions and find their own answers by tapping into their collective wisdom. We work closely with our clients to understand the issues underlying the problems they present to us, design a 3-4 month consulting engagement that will bring them to a better place, and prepare them to carry it further.

Jathan Janove: For an organization to receive CCP support, what are the criteria?

Dan Vetter: We work with non-profit organizations that have been in existence for some time. New start-ups need help as well, but that’s outside our sweet spot; the issues we tend to focus on typically come up as organizations have matured for at least a year or two.

They need to have an issue that fits with our skill sets. Some organizations want to bring in an “EXPERT” to tell them what to do. That’s not what we are about. OD is much more facilitative, and while we can help organizations move through a lot of thorny issues, the approach we use is drawing out and focusing the ideas and talents of their team members, not telling them what they need to do.

Jathan Janove: Please share a success story.

Dan Vetter: We worked with a non-profit that collected and recycled all kinds of home, office and educational supplies. As their organization had grown, it had become more diverse and multi-state, and found themselves less like “one big family,” and more like “management versus labor.” We helped them identify opportunities to improve communication throughout the organization, which increased transparency and reduced resentment. They came back to one of our events six months later, just having moved to new space that doubled their capacity.

The organization’s Executive Director said, “Your analyses and interventions helped steer us to a much improved management paradigm. … It set us on a new course that will benefit the entire organization infrastructure.” A staff member commented, “You made the staff feel heard … able to bring issues to light … and leave staff and management in a position to actually work through them. Thank you so much!”

Jathan Janove: If a nonprofit organization would like to enlist CCP, what does it need to do?

Dan Vetter: Go to the ODN Oregon website and read through the information on the CCP page. Applications for consulting projects beginning this fall are due by August 10th.

We have worked on 98 projects to date and are excited to see who will be our one-hundredth client!