Category Archives: Research & Analysis

Why Your Organization Might Consider a Merger

In the for-profit sector, mergers and acquisitions are common.  However, in the non-profit sector, mergers and acquisitions are hardly discussed, often have a negative connotation and seen as a “last option” when non-profits are in distress.  Relatively few non-profits are using mergers and acquisitions in a strategic way to strengthen their effectiveness, spread best practices, expand reach, and be cost-effective.  Based on the increasing number of non-profits, more public sector organizations should consider a merger or organizational realignment.

According to recent data from the National Center on Charitable Statistics (NCCS), nearly 1.6 million non-profit organizations wScreen Shot 2017-03-27 at 1.08.51 PMere registered with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).  This number continues to grow annually with an estimation of 30,000 new non-profit organizations being created each year in the United States, which is about 1 nonprofit for every 175 Americans!

Many of these new non-profit organizations share similar missions with existing organizations.  As a result, there is a growing increase in duplicating efforts and competing for limited funds and clients.   Non-profits are having to work harder, and sometimes in competition with similar organizations, to raise funds and recruit clients for services… chasing a smaller and smaller piece of the proverbial “pie” of available resources and funding that exist.  This environment of increasing non-profits has resulted in a rising trend of stagnating (or failing) organizations, ultimately diminishing the potential to accelerate impact.

By continually forming new nonprofits rather than evaluating existing organizations to modify or support, can threaten the future viability of the non-profit sector.  It is expensive and time consuming to build any sort of basic infrastructure, to say nothing of doing actual program work.  What if instead of duplicating services and risking inefficiency, non-profit organizations leveraged partnerships through shared, transferred, or combined services, resources or programs?

Benefits of a Merger or Organizational Restructure:

  • Expand geographic reach
  • Expand programming (either the range/scope of programs offered, or the numbers served)
  • Increase cost efficiency
  • Develop new skills
  • Increase funding

There are several types of strategic restructuring that goes beyond simple collaboration to bringing organizations into more formal and long-lasting forms of partnership.  In some cases, realignments are mergers of relatively equal organization; in others, smaller non-profits are folded into larger ones.

Common Types of Organizational Restructures:

  1. Administrative consolidation: Sharing, exchanging, or contracting of administrative functions to support the administrative efficiency of an organization. For example, one organization serves as the fiscal agent of another organization.
  2. Acquisition: Acquiring one organization into an existing organization.  For example, a prevention program is acquired by a residential treatment program.
  3. Consolidation: Combining two separate organizations into a single new entity.  For example, two separate school corporations forming a new consolidated school corporation.
  4. Joint programming: Launching and managing of one or more programs together. For example, two non-profits coming together to offer a combined summer camp program.
  5. Joint venture corporation: Creating a new organization with at least one other organization with a shared common purpose. A joint venture may include a cross-sector joint venture between a non-profit and for-profit organization.
  6. Merger: Combining all programmatic and administrative functions of two or more organizations.  For example, a mental health agency and multi-service agency merge to create a new and more comprehensive non-profit.
  7. Program transfer: Separating one or more of a non-profit’s programs and transferring it to another organization.  For example, a suicide/ crisis line program is transferred from a 211 agency to a mental health agency.

The process of considering a merger or other organizational restructure can be a political and emotional decision for all involved, so it is helpful to have a third-party individual or organization like a consultant facilitate the discussion.Stay tuned for the next blog in this series about how we worked with two organizations to facilitate consensus on their decision to restructure and steps you can apply!

In the meantime, if you have any questions about mergers and partnerships please contact us.

Some of this information was adapted from MergeMinnesota: Nonprofit merger as an opportunity for survival and growth.

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Three Tips for Creating Needs Assessment and Technical Reports

Transform Consulting Group is fortunate to work with clients who desire to better understand their targeted population, assess their needs, and develop recommendations for improvement.  Our research and analysis service includes completing a needs assessment, conducting literature review, and developing technical reports.

In doing this work, there are some common themes and steps with our approach that are applicable for anyone completing a needs assessment or writing technical reports:

  1. Define the audience. Who is the intended audience for this report?  How will they use this information?  How do we want them to use this information?
  2. Determine the key indicators. What information do we want to collect and gather during this process?  What questions do we want to answer?
  3. Decide on the format. Do we want a slide deck presentation with visuals, such as charts and graphs?  Do we want a formal written report?  How long should it be?  Would a one-page dashboard be sufficient?

Below are some case studies where we helped clients with one of these services.

  1. Indiana Early Learning Advisory Committee (ELAC) – Annual Report

annual report coverTransform Consulting Group provides “backbone” project management support for ELAC.  Part of our work includes helping ELAC complete an annual needs assessment on the quality and availability of early education programs for young children in the state of Indiana.  After completing the fourth annual ELAC needs assessment, we have significantly improved the data collected and reported by following the three steps above.

ELAC has narrowed its focus on 16 key indicators to track annually and monitor progress (as evidenced in the dashboard).  ELAC wanted to create individual county-level dashboards that mirror the state report and inform local coalitions, so we launched the ELAC County Early Childhood Profile late last year.  Now the state and all 92 counties have information on the accessibility and affordability of high quality early childhood education and is using that information to make best practice recommendations.  Lastly, the audience for the annual report is policy makers who have limited time and capacity to read a lengthy report.  Therefore, we created a short Executive Summary of the key findings and also worked to make the report visually appealing (using Tableau data visualization) with charts and graphics that are easy to digest and understand.  We have helped ELAC create other technical reports, such as Indiana’s Early Childhood Program Funding Analysis) to inform their target audience.

  1. Indiana Head Start State Collaboration Office – Needs Assessment Report

HS CoverEach Head Start State Collaboration Office is tasked with conducting a needs assessment of Early Head Start and Head Start grantees based on specific priorities from the federal Office of Head Start and the State Collaboration Office.  Transform Consulting Group helped Indiana’s Head Start State Collaboration Office complete the 2016 Head Start Needs Assessment.  The audience for this report included multiple stakeholders from state partners to Head Start grantees.  HS assessment map 2

The purpose of the needs assessment was to understand the landscape of Head Start grantees in Indiana, identify key findings that support ongoing collaboration and provide recommendations for future planning. We pulled out key elements of the Head Start Program Information Report to understand the  Head Start programs and used that information to create some helpful tools: a map of the Head Start grantees and a table that helps stakeholders understand Head Start grants across the state. We also gathered feedback from the grantees themselves on their assessment of the strengths, gaps and opportunities around the federal and state priorities.  This work culminated in recommendations that the state used to create a five-year strategic plan.

  1. Indiana Happy Babies Brain Trust – Infant Toddler Issue Briefhappy babies

The Indiana Happy Babies Brain Trust (HBBT) workgroup was formed in 2014 with the generous support of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Zero to Three to raise awareness of infants and toddlers in Indiana.  One of the priorities of the HBBT workgroup was to create an issue brief to raise awareness about the youngest Hoosiers in the state and solutions to support their positive development.

Transform Consulting Group worked with the HBBT workgroup for about a year to complete the technical report that resulted in: Getting Ready for School Begins at Birth.  The report combined the key findings of the research, a snapshot on the state of the youngest Hoosier children (ages 0-3) and solutions that include “easy wins” with “long-term strategies”.

If your organization needs help in completing technical reports or a needs assessment with our research and analysis services, please contact us at (317) 324-4070.

 

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Using A Needs Assessment Process to Plan a New Program

When a business plans to open a new store or restaurant, the business first conducts market research to ensure a good fit and a successful venture. In the public sector, we call this a “needs assessment”.

Whether your organization is a non-profit, hospital, school or government agency, more than likely you have been asked or initiated a needs assessment.  Why?  The needs assessment is a great opportunity to step back and build understanding about the target population (aka, intended client), their strengths, needs, concerns and goals, as well as taking a look internally at your own organization to ensure a good fit.

In Indianapolis, we have a Center for Working Families (CWF) program model that was developed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation to help low-income families achieve long-term financial stability. A group of local funders and partners help support and coordinate the CWF model to ensure a good fit with communities and strong fidelity at implementation.

Transform Consulting Group has helped a few organizations complete a needs assessment and project implementation plan to implement CWF in Indianapolis.  Most recently, we worked with Shepherd Community Center, a multi-service center on the Near Eastside of Indianapolis. Achieving CWF status would designate Shepherd Community Center as a location where low-income families could access a coordinated or bundled set of three key services to help lift them out of poverty and achieve long-term financial stability. In order to demonstrate the need for CWF in the neighborhood that Shepherd Community Center supports, Transform Consulting Group conducted a community needs assessment within the Near Eastside neighborhood of Indianapolis and completed an internal assessment of the organization.

Completing the needs assessment allowed Transform Consulting Group staff an opportunity to connect with the target audience through in-person focus groups and surveys at key community gatherings as well as meetings with key community partners.  We also gathered key indicators from the Census and other external data sources. The information collected included demographics, income levels, education levels and goals, goals, and perceived gaps in community services. Combined with the stakeholder feedback, we developed a comprehensive profile of the targeted community.   Data was analyzed and key findings shared with Shepherd Community Center leadership.  Results from the needs assessment not only demonstrated a strong need in the community, but will also serve as a baseline of information for future CWF planning and programming within this community.

Understanding the needs of your community or “market” is the foundation for successful organizational programming that will have the greatest, long-lasting impact. Transform Consulting Group looks forward to new opportunities helping organizations like Shepherd Community Center get a pulse on their community needs and effectively provide support. Contact Transform Consulting Group today to learn more about how we can assist your organization.

 

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4 Tips for Getting Started with Tableau

Have you ever seen beautiful charts or dashboards that make the data “pop” in the report or presentation and wondered how could you do that?  At Transform Consulting Group, we have made a lot of charts and graphs to help our clients evaluate their programs and understand important information in a way that is easy to digest. We work to find the most efficient ways to assist our clients with the data that they need to make informed, timely decisions. 2016 Percent of Annual Income a family pays for high-quality careOne way to do this is staying current with data analysis and visualization software.

The data visualization software that we are crushing on these days is Tableau. It is essentially an accelerated version of “pivot tables”.  If any of you are familiar with Excel, then you know pivot tables.  A pivot table is a tool that we use to determine the relationship between two or more data points. For example, when we were working with TeenWorks, a college and career readiness program, to see if their students are enrolling and persisting in college, then we might want to dig deeper in understanding who the students are that are not persisting, what schools are they enrolled in, what type of school is it (public or private, 2-year or 4-year), what is their major, and what is their gender and other socioeconomic statistics.

These additional data points help tell the story of what change is occurring and how that could impact the program model, partnership development, target clients, professional development and so many other factors.  Tableau helped our team answer these questions and more to better understand the relationship of our client’s program to its intended outcomes.pg 19


Recently, Transform Consulting Group used Tableau to complete a statewide needs assessment on Indiana’s youngest children ages 0-5 by pulling together data from multiple agencies and partners. The analysis resulted in the Indiana’s Early Learning Advisory Committee’s (ELAC) help
2017 Annual Report. The intended audience for the report are policy makers who do not have a lot of time to read technical reports, but Tableau equipped out team with creating a visually-appealing report that draws attention to the key findings.

These are our top four tips of getting started with Tableau:

  1. Use Tableau support. There are many support options through Tableau. One option is the Tableau Community, which allows users to connect and ask or answer questions for each other. This can be a quick way to find answers to a common problem or question that users have.  For example, we were havProjected Employment Needsing difficulty with one of our state maps and Tableau Community had a solution that we were able to implement.
  2. Another option is to contact a Tableau consultant through Tableau. A consultant can provide customized personal training and guidance, which might be especially helpful for a new staff person using Tableau and/or a special project (like a dashboard). The consultant won’t do the work for you but is available along the way for further questions and guidance as you complete your project.  
  3. Organize your data. Tableau can be picky about how the original data is organized and certain charts require different data formatting. Before getting started, it is helpful to organize your data into one spreadsheet. Transform Consulting Group prefers to use Google Sheets because it allows multiple people to work in a document and view changes real time, but Excel or Numbers could also work.
  4. Work with a Tableau expert.  Your project might be beyond the capacity (time and knowledge) of your current team, so partnering with a group or individual who has used Tableau might be a more efficient and effective solution.

If your organization needs help with analyzing and visualizing your data, contact Transform Consulting Group for a free consultation!

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post.  We were not asked by Tableau to write this post.  This is our own opinion.

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Transformational Organization Spotlight: TechSoup

TechSoup is transforming organizations and having a ripple effect in the non-profit world. TechSoup is dedicated to connecting nonprofits, charities, foundations, and public libraries with technology products, services, and free learning resources needed ticon-what-we-do-techsoup Big.jpgo make informed technology decisions and investments. TechSoup partners with key technology players such as Adobe, Cisco, and Microsoft to provide donated and discounted software and refurbished hardware for eligible non-profit organizations.

Through its website, TechSoup provides two types of memberships: 1) for the eligible entities identified above, and 2) for non-eligible entities. Eligible organizations are able to access free and discounted resources. Non-eligible organizations are able to access resources through TechSoup’s articles, blogs and webinars posted online. The average nonprofit saves $12,000 on technology products over the course of its TechSoup membership!

Technology is an integral part of any organization, especially in today’s Information Age. Staying current with technology allows an organization to sustain quality service and efficiency levels, while saving money. However, choosing new technologies can be overwhelming and sometimes an outside expert is needed. TechSoup has partnered with several technology consulting services to provide consultation for non-profits to assist them in making such decisions. This is yet another benefit of TechSoup!

Transform Consulting Group applauds TechSoup for its leadership in connecting non-profits with great technology resources, services and information. Transform Consulting Group is dedicated to helping organizations stay current with the latest research and best practices. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or contact Transform today to learn more!

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5 Ways to Use Your Program Evaluation Data

Your organization or school has spent a significant amount of time, money and resources on collecting, tracking and analyzing important data about your programs and services. In working with our clients, we often find that many are not doing a good job of sharing this information beyond the traditional annual report. Here are some simple, yet effective ways to use your program evaluation data:

  1. Annual Report – At a minimum, you should annually produce a report that summarizes your organization’s impact in the community. However, we strongly encourage you to rethink your traditional annual report. Check out these olds posts (here and here) for some inspiration!
  2. Email – The signature line in your staff’s email is a great communication tool. Think of all of the collective emails that your staff send out daily, weekly and yearly and the potential reach of those emails. Use the signature line to highlight key successes, which can be updated monthly. For example, if you operate a tutoring program this quick line could be added to all staff signature: “85% of participating students in ABC program increased their reading level by 3 months during our five week summer program.”
  3. Social Media – Similar to creating “data sound bites” in your email signature, similar data posts can be created for your organization’s social media pages on Facebook and Twitter. Just make sure to limit your jargon and make the post user-friendly.
  4. Collateral Materials – Too often, organization’s marketing materials focus on the services and programs (what you do) and not the result of those services and programs (aka, your outcomes!). Refresh your marketing materials to include both of these critical items – the programs offered and the impact that these programs have in the community!
  5. Grants and Fundraising – One of the best ways to increase an organization’s revenue and funding is to share the results with your funders via grant proposals, grant reports and fundraising events. The evaluation data can be useful to both highlight the great work you are doing (aka – give us more money to expand our impact) as well as justify the need for more money (aka – we need better staffing, curriculum, etc. to accomplish our goals).

Transform Consulting Group is passionate about helping organizations get clear on their mission and goals as well as have the right tools and systems in place to monitor the accomplishment of your goals. Do you need help evaluating your programs or communicating your impact? Contact us today for a free consultation!

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New Report on the Status of Young Children in Indiana

Indiana’s Early Learning Advisory Committee (ELAC) has submitted its 2015 report of findings to Governor Mike Pence and the state’s Legislative Council. As previously discussed (in this blog post), ELAC was created in the 2013 legislative session with a mandate to provide a comprehensive progress report by June 30th of each year.

ELAC’s vision focuses on ensuring that children ages birth to 8 years and their families have access to affordable, high-quality early childhood education programs that keep children healthy, safe and learning.

The report includes a Needs Assessment section where the following key items are noted:

  • Indiana has approximately 500,000 children five years old and younger;
  • Nearly half (47%) of Hoosier families with children ages 0-5 are in poverty;
  • The majority (66%) of Indiana’s families are working and require child care;
  • Only 11% of Hoosier children are enrolled in high-quality, program-based care;
  • For a family of three living in poverty, having one child in quality care would cost more than a third of their annual income; and
  • The 2020 projected demand for early childhood education teachers outpaces the current supply.

The report also includes the following important information: 2014 Accomplishments, Recommendations, and an Appendix. In the Appendix, there are several tables with detailed demographic information at the county level.

Transform Consulting Group was honored to partner with ELAC in helping them gather the information and write the annual report.

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Federal Program Spotlight: Amber Alert

 

amberalert

This post is part of Transform Consulting Group’s blog series highlighting federal programs that provide education opportunities and/or youth development services in communities.

The U.S. Department of Justice AMBER Alert program was instituted in 1996 as an early warning system designed to help find and return abducted children. According to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, approximately 800,000 children under 18 were reported missing in 1999. Fifteen years later in 2014, there were 466,949 missing children in the FBI’s National Crime information Center (NCIC). As of March 2015, the AMBER Alert program has recovered 745 children, and hopes to continue reuniting US families.

The goal of an AMBER Alert is to instantly galvanize an entire community to assist in the search for and safe recovery of an abducted child. In a recent online video, Attorney General Eric Holder announces new tools that will “expand the reach of the AMBER Alert program.” Partnerships with Facebook and Bing will allow AMBER Alerts to reach residents of search areas in new ways. Facebook will now send alerts to users if they are in a designated search area, along with detailed information and photographs. Bing will allow users to access Amber Alerts through online tools.

Attorney General Holder strongly encourages other companies and organizations to step forward and offer any assistance they can provide. Currently, the AMBER Alert program operates as a voluntary partnership between law-enforcement agencies, TV and radio broadcasters, transportation agencies, and the wireless industry to issue warnings in the most serious child abduction cases.

Individuals and organizations looking to get more involved in the AMBER Alert program can visit here to get the latest information and tools. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children also has information on how to get involved on their website.

Transform Consulting Group is dedicated to helping organizations use technology to expand their audience and reach their goals. Contact us today to learn more.

 

 

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National Head Start Association

nhsa

From cross-country photo exhibits, to Nike Go Smart on the U.S. Capitol lawn, to the Annual Parent Conference in New Orleans, the National Head Start Association (NHSA) had a busy year in 2014. To kick off 2015, NHSA members took part in the Winter Leadership Institute conference in late January to discuss important policies and issues facing the Early Learning community.

Head Start and Early Head Start programs focus on early childhood development and education, and are administered by the Office of Head Start (OHS), within the Administration for Children and Families (ACF). Head Start supports school readiness for young children from low-income families through local early childhood education agencies. Programs provide support for the mental, social, and emotional development of children as well as health, nutrition, and social services for children and their families.

Beginning on March 29, through April 2, 2015, Washington D.C. will host NHSA’s 42nd Annual Head Start Conference and Expo. It is estimated that more than 5,000 executive directors, directors, administrators, managers, teachers, policy council members, and parents from every state will attend this event. Click here to register. There will be more than 200 educational sessions providing professional development in the following areas:

  • Classroom Management and Teaching Strategies
  • Assessments, Planning, and Management
  • Early Education/Care and Child Development
  • Health, Nutrition, and Safety
  • Parent/Community/Family Engagement
  • Self-Development and Awareness Building
  • Social Emotional Development and Challenging Behavior

Since 1965, more than 31 million children have benefitted from Head Start’s comprehensive services. These children have become business women and men, professors, teachers, lawyers, mayors, members of Congress, athletes, foundation presidents, Grammy-winning musicians, poets, and parents.1

Transform Consulting Group is dedicated to keeping clients current with the latest research, trends, news and events such as the NHSA’s Annual Head Start Conference and Expo. Contact us today to learn more about what we do, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

1 http://www.nhsa.org/50_years_of_opportunity

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Summer Learning Program Enrollment to Increase in 2015?

 

After School AllianceA recent Wallace Foundation report reveals higher numbers of parents enrolling children in summer learning programs.  The data collected indicates that more parents are interested in high quality summer learning programs for their children.  Afterschool Alliance compiled a similar report called America After 3PM highlighting an increase in participation rates and demand for high quality summer learning programs.

Results from the 2014 America After 3PM survey found that, 33% of families had at least one child participate in a summer learning program in the summer of 2013; a 25% increase from the summer of 2009. The survey also indicates the demand for summer learning programs is high. Fifty-one percent of those families surveyed say they would like for their children to participate in a summer learning program next summer.

These reports suggest an increased awareness of summer learning loss.  Summer learning loss is a phenomenon where primarily low-income students lose academic skills and knowledge over the course of the summer when not in school due to a lack of enrichment and engagement activities during the summer.  By some estimates, summer loss is equal to about 1 month of learning.1

Unfortunately, cost is a concern for many families.  Only 13% reported that summer learning programs were offered at no cost.  In 2013, the average weekly cost was $250, which puts summer programs out of reach for many children, especially those of low-income families.  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services considers 10% of a family’s income to be the benchmark for affordable child care.  The average weekly price of $250 is often unattainable for low-income families.

Since 2009, there has been a 3% increase in parents who support public funding for summer learning programs. Eighty-six percent of parents surveyed indicated that they support public funding, with fewer than 1 in 10 parents in opposition.

Transform Consulting Group helps organizations collect and utilize data to better serve their communities.  Through data analysis, Transform Consulting Group can identify trends that impact communities and recommend best practices to create positive change.  Contact us today to learn more!

1Cooper, H., Nye, B., Charlton, K., Lindsay, J., & Greathouse, S. 1996. “The effects of summer vacation on achievement test scores: A narrative and metaanalytic review.” Review of Educational Research, 66, 227–268.

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