Taking the Non Out of Nonprofit

We are thrilled to partner with Venture Carolina and VentureSouth to bring a first-of-its-kind seminar to Columbia, SC on Wednesday, Sept. 13. Taking the Non Out of Nonprofit will bring together leaders from the nonprofit community alongside individual investors to discuss the importance of nonprofits operating more like businesses and less like charities. At the same time, we are excited that this will give us an opportunity to spotlight the amazing work currently being done by nonprofits across the state! 

The lineup of speakers and participants is nothing short of amazing. Check out the line-up and then register today because the early bird saves money. From now until August 9, registrants will enjoy a $30 discount. And while there is a lot of buzz around this event, space is limited, so we encourage those who are interested to register early!

Finally, what's really exciting about this event is the Innovation Challenge. Nonprofits from across the Southeast have the opportunity to have their good ideas not only heard, but funded. During the seminar on Sept. 13, Venture Carolina will give one lucky winner $5,000 to help bring a profitable idea to life.

Ready. Set. Register!

Be a Problem Solver...Not an Order Taker

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the IABC/SC Mini Conference. As someone who is a big believer in life-long learning and professional development, I was thrilled to step away from my computer for the day. In addition to winning a door prize (free registration to the fall conference - YAY!), the content was on point.

One presenter who really stood out to me was Tim Floyd from Palmetto Health who spoke to all of us “creatives” in the room. Here are some of the key take-a-ways:

·      There’s no such thing as boring projects, only boring people.

·      Are you an order taker OR a problem solver?

·      How can a client already know what they want when they can’t even really state the problem?

·      Don’t be afraid of bad ideas. They represent creativity in process.

·      Be the creative. Don’t wait for others to ask for it.

As communicators, especially those of you who may work within a nonprofit, we often get bogged down in our to-do lists and don’t take enough time to think creatively, to reframe a current project we are working on, or to simply get ourselves away from the computer and out into the community, which can oftentimes be the best creativity juice booster there is.

So next time someone asks for a simple flyer for an event, think bigger. Tim talked about the time a staff person came to him wanting to encourage people to take the stairs because he didn’t feel like other employees even knew where the stairs were located. The person wanted a flyer. After figuring out the employees did, in fact, know where the stairs were, they just needed some coaxing to use them, Tim gave them a complete marketing campaign centered around being healthy. He added funny quotes and fun facts to the actual stairs, made infomercials about the importance of taking the stairs, and created contests that gave employees monetary incentives if they were "caught in the act" of taking the stairs. Employees loved it! People were taking the stairs just to see the signs and read the quotes. If Tim had simply created the flyer as asked, would the same results have ensued? Absolutely not. So his message is an important one…

BE A PROBLEM SOLVER…NOT AN ORDER TAKER! 

By: Cayci Banks, Communications Specialist

Costa Rica Reflections

The following was a letter sent from Dr. Heather Brandt to students and colleagues at the University of South Carolina regarding her experience in Costa Rica for the Global USC in Costa Rica program.

Greetings! I have returned physically from Costa Rica back to South Carolina, but my mind and thoughts and heart continue to be in Costa Rica. I am processing my experience, and I am somewhat reluctant to write about it at this time because I know my thinking will evolve. However, I am equally excited to share with you some of the lessons I learned during my time in Costa Rica. 

I arrived in San José on May 14 for Global USC in Costa Rica (for those of you who have not had a chance to read my last chair’s email – this is the University of South Carolina), and I was in Costa Rica until June 6 for the program. This program provides students a unique opportunity to gain USC course credits while learning about health and culture in San José and across the country. Health-related courses are instructed by USC faculty (including me!). During this program, students have the chance to explore San José and immerse themselves in Costa Rican culture.

I had three USC undergraduate students, all public health majors, in my class – “Community Health Problems” (which I renamed, “Community Health Solutions” because communities are not a problem and solutions are in communities). Class went exceptionally well and was complemented by incredible service learning experiences. In fact, I said several times, “Community health class can be cancelled for the rest of the program because there is no way I can replicate what you are experiencing firsthand in the community in the classroom.” We experienced the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation in La Carpio, Hogar de Carlos Maria Ulloa (nursing home), Hogar de la Esperanza (a home for people living with HIV), and all three levels of the Costa Rican health care system and a private hospital as well. “Community” was all around us. Public health was evident throughout our entire program. Important community and public health lessons were learned in the community, not the classroom. We did a lot of listening while we learned. I am grateful for the generosity of these organizations and their willingness to host us.

I have attempted to summarize my experience around three salient points. 

First, community is defined in many ways. At Hogar de la Esperanza, we learned about a community for individuals who have HIV come to embrace life and live theirs. This is a diverse community in terms of country of origin, sexual orientation and preferences, and status, which is highly unique as there are only three such homes for people living with HIV in Costa Rica. Our idea of what constitutes “community” is not for us to determine, and often, a community of which you become a part happens organically. We witnessed similar communities of care in the local, area-level health care clinic in Cartago that is the first-level of care in the Costa Rican health care system, called EBAIS in Costa Rica. ETAPS who work within the EBAIS are tasked with improving the overall health of the community by working with people in the community. A strong sense of solidarity within the community, defined geographically by the organization of the EBAIS, was apparent. 

Second, when working with a community to improve health, meet them where they are. We have to ensure basic needs are met before we can focus on other needs. While in La Carpio, we heard from Gail “Giselle” Nystrom of the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation who shared with us their approach and how important it is to meet basic needs while always increasing self-esteem of those they serve. Our public health education and health promotion interventions must align with opportunities within a community and not focus on impractical approaches that are inconsistent with where they are. This was further evident in the EBAIS in Cartago. We witnessed a primary care physician committed to ensuring programming so that every child receiving care in the clinic had the chance to succeed. She implemented a play therapy program to aid children with development delays. The ETAPS ensure that these children are living in environments that will support their success. 

Third, solutions are truly found in the community. At La Carpio, Hogar Carlos Maria Ulloa, Hogar de la Esperanza, and across our visits to learn about the Costa Rican health care system, solutions were all around us in these communities. Solutions were initiated from within the community with minimal help from those outside – perhaps financial or other resources, expertise, etc. The resiliency and solidarity of Costa Ricans was inspiring, and solutions emerged from within the community. 

Mixed in with lifetime lessons, classroom time, and service learning experiences, we had a lot of fun too. We toured the city of San José, visited the National Museum of Costa Rica, travelled to Doka Coffee Estates and La Paz Waterfalls, ate “comida típica” (typical food) in Costa Rica, which is gallo pinto or rice and beans, visited Manuel Antonio National Park, and much more. Personally, I was captivated by the monkeys, sloths, and the vistas. 

In closing, as we face ongoing challenges to ensuring a strong public health system, focus on prevention, health equity, and access to health care in the U.S., I am struck by a common theme that emerged in our interactions with Costa Ricans. At Hospital Heredia (a regional hospital in the Costa Rican system), we had the chance to talk with hospital administrators and ask them questions. Someone asked if health care was viewed as a right or a privilege in Costa Rica. Without hesitation, the response was, "health care is a right, not a privilege, in Costa Rica." I believe this reflects the strong sense of solidarity I experienced in my interactions with Costa Ricans. Sure, the health care system is not perfect, but it is based on a fundamental belief that everyone is entitled to health care. “Pura vida” is more than a catchphrase or nuanced tourist lingo. Costa Ricans live pura vida. 

Heather Brandt
Chair, Public Health Education and Health Promotion Section
American Public Health Association

SC Community Loan Fund Needs Your Help

Our friends at the South Carolina Community Loan Fund (SCCLF) are conducting market research to gauge demand for their services throughout the state. If at any point you've considered obtaining financing for a community development project, have borrowed capital, or think you might consider it in the future, they want to hear from you!

Whether you represent a for-profit, nonprofit, or government entity, they want learn more about your experience in financing your community development project.  Perhaps you've considered creating affordable housing in your community, wanted to open a small business of your own, hoped to bring healthy foods to your neighborhood, or tried to secure financing for a school, clinic, or town hall. All of these (and more) are community development projects, and knowing what you need in order to make them a reality is important to SCCLF.

This survey should take you approximately 5 minutes to complete, and your answers will be kept strictly confidential. As a thank you for participating, you can be entered to win a $100 Office Depot gift card at the end of the survey.

Pura Vida

I’ve been very fortunate in my life that for one reason or another – business meetings, sporting events, pleasure – I’ve traveled a great deal. I’m also fortunate that I have a life partner who also enjoys traveling. Heather and I have seen an awful lot together, and no matter where we travel or what the reason for the travel is, we always try to learn something new. A language, a tradition, a piece of history, something – especially when traveling abroad.

This time it’s Heather’s work that has taken us out of the country. She is teaching a study abroad course in Costa Rica right now, officially “Global USC in Costa Rica.” Of course, I had to join her for a few days.

Among other things, we have learned that Costa Rica’s official national motto is “Pura Vida.” The phrase translates literally to pure life, with other common iterations like full of life, or this is living! But, Costa Rica’s motto is better translated in action than in words. The locals don’t seem to stress about anything. Life is laid back, carefree, and most importantly optimistic. Pura vida means being thankful for what you have and not dwelling on the negative.

Caught in a torrential downpour walking to dinner? Pura vida.

Locked yourself out of the apartment? Pura vida.

Stuck on a bus with no air conditioning for four hours? Pura vida.

Can’t get the Internet to work and missed an important work email? Pura vida.

At some point we’ll return back to the hustle, bustle, and high stress of our jobs in the United States. I can only hope we are able sneak a little Pura vida through customs! We certainly could use a little in our lives long past our time here in Costa Rica.

Most likely, so could you. 

Save the Date: 9.13.17

This September, we are partnering with Venture Carolina and VentureSouth to bring a unique, one-day seminar to Columbia, SC. Taking the Non Out of Nonprofit will bring together nonprofit executives, development directors and board members with industry leaders from across the state to help our social service community think less like a charity and more like a business. 

"Our hope is to help bridge the divide between nonprofits and entrepreneurship," said Charlie Banks, managing partner of VentureSouth. 

Registration will open in June along with the Innovation Challenge, where a select group of nonprofits will have the opportunity to present their profitable ideas to a panel of investors and funders, modeled after the popular show Shark Tank®. The pool of candidates will be culled down to three who will present during the conference on September 13. The winning proposal will receive a $5,000 award to fund the development and expansion of their effort.

For more information, visit www.VentureCarolina.org.  

South Carolina Rural Health Action Plan Released

In May, we were honored to stand alongside the South Carolina Office of Rural Health and the South Carolina Rural Health Action Plan Task Force to unveil the initial recommendations of the Rural Health Action Plan for our state. It was a pleasure and a privilege to lead this group of 50+ individuals over the past eight months.

Throughout the course of our eight meetings, the Task Force culled through a number of issues and concerns, heard from content experts, gathered feedback from community members, and were presented supporting literature and data. Ultimately, the group landed on five key areas of focus necessary to improve the health of rural communities in South Carolina: Access to Health Care; Community Assets, Leadership & Engagement; Economic Development; Education; and Housing.

The full report will be released on November 16 as part of National Rural Health Day, but be sure to review the initial recommendations and send us your feedback.

http://scorh.net/south-carolina-rural-health-action-plan/

Isaiah Nelson Joins Firm as Mobilization Strategist

The team at 1000 Feathers is pleased to announce the hire of Isaiah Nelson as Mobilization Strategist. Isaiah, a 2012 graduate of the College of Charleston Honors College and former student body president of the College, has been engaged on electoral and mobilization projects over the last four years. A former intern for the Office of Public Engagement in the White House and a veteran of multimillion dollar Congressional, Mayoral and Gubernatorial campaigns in multiple states, Isaiah will work with our clients as we look to make meaningful impacts in communities throughout the country.

"As our firm continues to grow, we're always on the lookout for top talent that can add to our service delivery," said Forrest Alton, President of 1000 Feathers. "Isaiah's understanding of policy work, community organizing and mobilization fit a need for us, and we are thrilled to welcome him to the team. He brings great value and experience to a number of existing projects and will add to our menu of services for new clients."

Look for the Helpers

We are barely three weeks into 2017 and what a year it has been already. I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect when Heather and I launched our consulting firm late in 2016, but it has, so far, been a journey like no other I’ve ever been on.

In a short time, our work has taken us across South Carolina and across the country.

  • On one of our projects, we’ve spent time reading, listening to residents, asking questions of the experts, and trying to better understand the challenges and barriers that exist to health and well-being in rural South Carolina. The challenges are real, significant, and deep-rooted.
  • Our team is back and forth weekly to Charlotte, NC working with a group of funders and philanthropists to develop a system of change that presents greater opportunity for the citizens of Mecklenburg County. Certainly not rural America, but the metro has its own challenges.
  • We are preparing to lead a board/staff retreat next week for a statewide nonprofit who is poised and ready to tackle the significant challenge of affordable, reliable housing in South Carolina.
  • Our travels have also taken us to Waco, TX, Tulsa, OK, and Washington, DC. All unique communities with their own challenges centered around race, poverty, and access to health, education, and financial resources.

What’s striking to me is that despite differences in size, region of the country, and demographics, the challenges in these communities are all very similar. From rural South Carolina, to metro-Charlotte, to the “heart of Texas;” all different communities with familiar challenges.

What’s even more striking is the massive number of helpers we have come into contact with. Without exception, one of the first things I notice when visiting a new community is that the helpers are already in place! So many kind and caring souls giving their all, dedicating financial resources and human capital to the causes that matter.

It was Mr. Rogers who reminded us that “when (you) see scary things… look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

Indeed.

Having recently celebrated a “day of service” in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., it’s fitting to point out how many helpers there are among us. It’s also not lost on me that we are mere hours away from the Inauguration of the 45th President of the United States. To be sure, with so much uncertainty in front of us, those helpers will be more important than ever. So, my message to you today and in the days ahead is two-fold:

If you need help, whatever that means to you, please don’t be ashamed to reach out. If you are a helper, please don’t be afraid to stand up and make yourself available! 

Forrest Alton Elected to My Carolina Board of Governors

My Carolina Alumni Association has elected Forrest L. Alton to its Board of Governors. Alton represents the second congressional district of Columbia, South Carolina.

The board of governors is the governing body of the University of South Carolina’s alumni association, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization established in 1846. The board promotes fellowship among the university’s graduates, establishes policies, provides strategic direction and holds fiduciary responsibility for the assets of My Carolina.

"Any success I have had in my career is due in large part to the education, networks, friends, and colleagues I gained during my time at the University of South Carolina,” Alton said. “I see this appointment to My Carolina’s Board of Governors as an opportunity to 'pay it forward' and give back to the University and its alumni that have done so much for me.”

Alton has been involved in public health and youth development efforts for more than 15 years. In 2007, he became the chief executive officer of the SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, a position he held for nearly 10 years. Under Alton’s leadership the organization saw substantial growth. Forrest recently launched a consulting firm, 1000 Feathers, which works helps nonprofits, philanthropists and social service organizations have greater impact in the communities they serve.

In 2010, Alton was recognized by The State newspaper as one of South Carolina’s “20-under-40 emerging leaders.”  In 2014, he was recognized by The Free Times as one of the “50 Most Influential People in Columbia.”  He is a Riley Institute Diversity Fellow, a Liberty Fellow and part of the Aspen Global Leadership Network.

Alton earned his master of public health from the university’s Arnold School of Public Health. In 2011, the school named him its Alumnus of the Year. He earned his bachelor of science from Coastal Carolina University, where he also was named a Distinguished Alumnus.

About My Carolina
My Carolina Alumni Association’s mission is to build a thriving community of actively engaged and connected alumni, students, faculty and supporters who give themselves in service to the university while carrying the Carolina tradition and spirit worldwide. For more information about My Carolina Alumni Association, visit www.MyCarolina.org.

President Forrest Alton Featured in Tulsa World

During a recent visit to Tulsa, OK to work with the Tulsa Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, our President Forrest Alton had the opportunity to sit down with a reporter from Tulsa World to discuss progress made in South Carolina and what Tulsa can do to better address teen pregnancy. Several things he made very clear: 1) the solutions are in the community and 2) teen pregnancy prevention is not a moral issue; it's a public health issue. 

Read the full article here.

President Forrest Alton Appears on the Giving Connection

Our President Forrest Alton recently sat down with the Waco Foundation in Waco, Texas to give expert commentary on teen pregnancy prevention efforts across the country, specifically what he helped to accomplish in South Carolina through his role as CEO of the South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. The full broadcast can be found below.

1000 Feathers Launches to Bridge Divide Between Strategy and Vision

With challenges mounting for those in the social service sector and pressure to perform at an all-time high, Forrest Alton and Heather Brandt have launched a new consulting firm, 1000 Feathers, to combat these challenges and assist nonprofits and social service organizations, thus bridging the divide between vision and strategy and leading to meaningful results and community change.

After spending the last 10 years serving as the Chief Executive Officer of the South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, Forrest Alton stepped down earlier this year to focus his energy on launching this new firm. In partnership with his wife, Heather Brandt, Alton has formed a team that understands the importance of strategic thinking, planning and performance, and collectively brings more than 40 years of combined experience in communities – working directly with foundations, nonprofits and government agencies.

"Our main value is to always remain client-centered, to present an approach to problem solving that results in our team working with our clients, not for them,” said Alton, who is serving as the President of the new firm. “Collectively our team has learned a lot about what it takes to create measurable change in communities. Most importantly, we have learned that there’s a big disconnect between the needs of communities, the vision of philanthropists, and the organizational strategies in the social service sector.”

In addition to bringing the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors closer together, 1000 Feathers also seeks to provide aggressive leadership development to help prepare organizations to better handle a changing landscape.

“Projecting out over the next several years, we are beginning to realize the combined impact of retiring baby boomers, changing approaches to funding and philanthropy, and a more crowded than ever nonprofit sector. There’s a need to create a space for more strategic thinking, bigger and bolder visions, and data-driven decision making,” said Brandt. While Brandt will maintain her current positions within the University of South Carolina, she will also serve as the company’s owner and will contribute to all major research projects.

The work of 1000 Feathers is based on the premise that a strong vision combined with thoughtful strategy is the only path to measurable results and real community change. But, what Brandt and Alton have uncovered through their professional careers and service on multiple state and national boards, is that there are a lot of moving parts to the “strategy + vision = results” formula, and often organizations and communities never get to the end results they desire. To create a meaningful experience for their future clients, 1000 Feathers will offer services focused on four key areas: executive consultation and leadership training; strategic thinking and planning; market engagement and communications; and research development and organization expansion.