Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Recognizing Excellence in the Non-Profit Community

The Washington Post Award for Excellence in Non-Profit Management, now in its 14th year, is a competition organized by the Center for Non-Profit Advancement that recognizes outstanding non-profit organizations for their innovative practices. The Washington Tennis and Education Foundation is the 2008 recipient of the award. MVLE, Inc. and the Urban Alliance Foundation were also finalists.

All three finalists presented their unique “Best Practices” in an interview session preceding the award presentation. MVLE, Inc. provides employment and support services for people with disabilities. Representatives spoke of the organizations’ improvements in employee satisfaction, revenue diversification, and risk management. They implemented an employee newsletter and monthly excellence award to bring their 30% annual staff turnover rate down to 8.8%. A silent whistleblower program encouraged feedback about management practices. MVLE also developed a comprehensive and straightforward scorecard which allows staff to measure the organization’s progress toward its goals.

The Urban Alliance Foundation prepares underprivileged youth for jobs and self-sufficiency through education, mentoring, and paid internships. Executive Director Veronica Nolan demonstrates the organization’s drive and commitment to excellence by often telling her staff, “We have to be better than a Fortune 500 company”. One of the keys to Urban Alliance’s success is that each employee truly embraces the goals and values of the organization. They consistently emphasize that the youth in the program come first. Urban Alliance also created an extensive checklist to evaluate potential partnerships. This is designed to ensure that all work with other organizations benefits students and adheres to the Urban Alliance mission.

Washington Tennis and Education Foundation (WTEF), winner of the award, uses educational enrichment and athletics to help low-income youth improve their academic performance and succeed after high school. Their most unique feature is a 69-member board and a full-time staff of only five. Board members are expected to participate in a variety of committees, ranging from budget and finance to securing a new office site to planning the annual gala fundraiser. WTEF also focuses on development and diversification of their funding sources. They employ two part-time grant writers in order to maintain established funding sources while simultaneously searching for new grants.

All three organizations presented exciting and thought-provoking management strategies. The workshop highlighted the high caliber of non-profits in the Washington, DC area, and demonstrated levels of excellence for which all organizations can strive.

Sponsor: The Washington Post and The Center for Non-Profit Advancement
Date: May 21, 2008
Time: 2-5 pm
Representative Attending: Kate Lonergan

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