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CBOs: 5 Tips for Thriving, Not Just Surviving, in the New Year

Make the financial and operational health of your organization your number one resolution this year. To kick off this new series, Jay Blackwell, Director of Capacity Building at the Office of Minority Health Resource Center, shares these tips to set your organization up for success in 2013 and beyond.

OMH: What trends do you think will have the biggest impact on CBOs this year?

Jay Blackwell: The trends that will have the biggest impact on organizations this year relate to funding, strategic planning and implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Fundraising in the current climate demands that organizations diversify their funding strategies and link that to strategic planning, so that throughout the year, they are striving to meet certain goals and milestones.

Additionally, a strategic plan is a must. It should cover your strategic goals for at least the next three years and have buy-in from your board of directors or trustees. For so many organizations, the relationship with the board can be a dysfunctional one. But strategic planning discussions can be the entry to building a stronger relationship.

The Affordable Care Act will impact all organizations that have any type of a health aspect to what they do. Many CBOs base their bread and butter on education. But now organizations will need to begin positioning themselves to learn how to assist their clients in connecting with the medical system and get paid for it.

OMH: What is your advice to CBOs about seeking funding?

Jay Blackwell: For organizational leaders who think they will always get the same grants they’ve received in the past and not think beyond the usual funding sources – that is a recipe for disaster. Some organizations unfortunately get locked onto government funds or foundation money, and when those sources dry out, they are lost as to where to go next. Organizations must have a grant-writing strategy that they implement throughout the year, not just at year-end.

OMH: What does the picture of success look like? What 5 things should CBOs strive for?

  1. Define your historical and cultural relevancy to your clients and your communities. Why is your organization important and how is your work making a difference?
  2. Take time to address your organizational vision. Your vision is where you want the organization to be – the strategic plan is the roadmap for how you get there.
  3. Think long-term. Anticipate trends and shape your vision for where you want the organization to be three years from now.
  4. Invest in staff development so that your team is prepared and excited to carry out that vision.
  5. Tackle succession planning. Executive directors who are thinking about retirement or moving on should have a plan for selecting and training their successor.

OMH: What tools are available to track and measure success?

Jay Blackwell: The truth is that it is not always necessary to have a set of formalized tools and procedures for tracking your success. A good strategic plan will provide your roadmap to success.

The Office of Minority Health Resource Center provides free technical assistance and capacity building activities to health care agencies and nonprofits throughout the country. Its team of experienced program and capacity building specialists offer short- and long-term assistance with organizational infrastructure development, cultural competency, community outreach, program design, training and communications. Visit for more information.

Content Last Modified: 1/23/2013 10:17:00 AM
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