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Published by valeriefleonard

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Published by: valeriefleonard on Dec 22, 2011
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Your nonprofit organization’s objective is to serve your mission and growing client
base withmaximum effectiveness in a rapidly changing environment. The impact of that changing
environment may be severely stretching your nonprofit’s current internal capacity. Or it may be
suggesting that your nonprofit needs to grow new capabilities in certain key operational areas.Valerie F. Leonard helps you identify, assess and develop strategies for strengthening yourinternal capacities. Services include:
Organizational Assessment
Valerie uses a number of quantitative and qualitative methods to assess organizational capacity toeffectively deliver programs and services to their clients. Depending on the needs of the client, methodsused could include stakeholder interviews, online surveys and questionnaires, internal document reviewand literature reviews. Information gleaned from the assessments may be used to identify and prioritizekey issues. Organizational assessments are often used to develop a baseline of organizational capacity inpreparation for board development, strategic planning, community needs assessments, issue-basedcampaigns for client advocacy, partnerships and mergers and program development.
Program Logic Models
Valerie works with organizations to analyze their current situation within the context of the environment
within which they operate to identify key issues strengths, challenges resources and actions required toreach their goals and objectives. The models are structured so that clients may easily developimplementation plans and measure progress towards desired outcomes. The program logic models may beused for program development, grant proposals, and program evaluation.
Strategic Planning
Valerie uses a collaborative approach to engage key stakeholders at every stage of the strategic planningprocess. She conducts a thorough assessment of the organization
s capacity and key relationships withclients and funders. These data are used to helps them to identify and prioritize key issues, goals,objectives and strategies to effectively position themselves within their competitive environments.Depending on the purpose of the plan, the results of the strategic planning process may be used to developmore efficient board and organizational structures; develop plans for long term sustainability; assess thefeasibility of entering new ventures, create sustainable communities or to inform program development.
 Budgeting and Finance
Valerie works with emerging organizations to identify the necessary resources to effectively implementprograms and services and project associated revenues and expenses and monthly cash flows. These datamay be used to establish budgets for organizations, programs and projects, or to support fundingproposals, applications for tax exemption status, or reports to funders, accountants and regulatingauthorities. Valerie
s work has included developing financial policies and procedures for board and staff members and installation of Quick Books systems. Valerie has developed a three-hour workshop onbudgeting and finance, and occasionally teaches an online finance course for the University of IllinoisGreat Cities Institute.
Board Development
Valerie works with the board and executive directors to assess board operations and practices and toidentify and prioritize key issues. The outcomes of board assessments could be used to strengthen by-laws and polices; enhance committee structures and systems of communication between board and staff;recruit board members; enhance evaluation systems for board members, executive director and staff; re-visit roles and responsibilities of board and staff in preparation for major projects and fundraising; andstaff retreats to address issues of concern.
Needs Assessment
Valerie works with clients to assess their current operating environment to identify and prioritize keyissues, identify service gaps and redundancies in local markets; develop goals and objectives and toformalize their internal theories of change. The results of the needs assessments may be included in grantproposals; used to serve as the basis for program logic models; provide support for program evaluationplanning; used to develop or enhance new programs and services or serve as a basis to terminateprograms and services.
Program Evaluation
Valerie works with key organizational stakeholders to develop an evaluation plan taking into account theprogram logic model and outcomes identified during the program planning and design phase. She uses acombination of quantitative and quantitative measures to assess progress towards the programs
goals and
objectives and uses the results to make informed recommendations as to how the organization shouldproceed.
Capacity Building Workshops
Valerie works with organizations, funders, local universities and government agencies to developworkshops tailored to the specific needs of the audiences. Subject matter could include grantsmanagement, proposal writing, community needs assessment and theory of change, strategic planning,budgeting, board development, etcetera. Valerie has also developed Capacity Building Blocks
, a 10week workshop series meant to help emerging leaders start and manage nonprofit organizations andmaintain regulatory compliance.
 Policy Analysis and Advocacy
Valerie works with organizations to conduct issue-based needs assessments to identify key policy and/orcommunity issues that impact their ability to provide programs and services. The results are used todevelop appropriate strategies to advocate for changes that will result in triple-win situations for clients,organizations and policy-makers. Valerie has been particularly effective in advocating for greaterworkforce development and capacity building for minorities and small business owners wishing to dobusiness with the State of Illinois; developing strategies to increase transparency and access toNeighborhood Stabilization Funding; advocating for TIF reforms and highlighting the need for statelegislative boundaries to be drawn in a manner that included input from rank and file citizens andpreserved communities of interest.
Project Management
Valerie has served as the project manager on a number of engagements, ranging from communitydevelopment projects, strategic planning, comprehensive capacity building and community engagement.Her collaborative approach, attention to details and follow up results in projects that have buy-in frommajor stakeholders with a significant likelihood of results that can be sustained by the organization afterthe engagement is completed.
Program Regulatory Compliance
Valerie has observed in the course of her work, that emerging organizations often have capacity issuesthat present challenges maintaining compliance with programmatic or regulatory requirements.Depending on the needs of the organization, she conducts an assessment that helps them to understandhow their internal systems
stack up
against best practices and statutory requirements, and helpsorganizations correct any deficiencies. Valerie has developed an assessment tool, workshops, facilitatedonline chats and written articles on the subject to raise awareness of compliance issues and help
organizations increase their capacity to get funded.
Ask the Expert Live Chat
Once every month for 1 to 2 hours, Valerie will “get together” with clients and potential clients
online to chat about things that matter to nonprofits. Sometimes the discussions will be casual,although they wil
l all be focused and professional. Valerie also invites other “experts” to join and
share their know-how or take turns educating each other. Occasionally, it might get personal, and
Valerie will offer a support group for a struggling colleagues.For further information, contactValerie F. LeonardExpert in Community and Organizational Developent

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