How to Integrate Community Building into your 2021 Plans

By Danielle Rocheleau, CEO

We’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of community lately at Laridae. This is in part because of our work on The Pier, an online learning and networking site for non-profit leaders, but it extends beyond that. We’re seeing positive results of community building all around us – even as we’re further apart than we have ever been.

In this article, I share a few examples of how we’ve worked with organizations to leverage the core benefits of community, such as strengthening capacity for leaders and managers, and realigning relationships with staff and partners to help move their non-profits forward together. You’ll also find some tangible next steps you can follow to integrate community building into your 2021 plans.

What is “Community Capacity Building” and what are its benefits?

I often talk about the value of community capacity building – whether that be across a geographic region, across service providers in a similar sector, or managers across an organization –  but what do I mean by “community capacity building”?

I am referring to the practice of forming mutually-supportive relationships with like-minded organizations, sharing services and/or resources, and working together to help service recipients navigate service pathways.

The Benefits of Community Capacity Building

We have seen that the benefits of this kind of relationship-building include:

  • Strengthened approaches, practices, and skills
  • Enhanced ability to run effective organizations
  • Increased resilience and adaptability
  • Improved quality of service delivery

So, how can you integrate community capacity building into your 2021 plans? Read on to learn about some options.


Option 1: Strengthen non-profit leadership via cross-organizational development programs

At Laridae, we believe that non-profits are critical to the health of our communities as they deliver essential services that help enhance the wellbeing of its people, its environment, and its economy. We love entering discussions with like-minded organizations that result in new approaches of building capacity and ensuring it is accessible to small non-profits.

Case Study: Partnering with United Way Peterborough

Recently, we launched the second round of the Leadership Development Program with United Way Peterborough. This program has brought together 40 community leaders over the last year, creating a common understanding of how to drive community-based non-profits forward, considering governance, strategy, succession, and storytelling.  

Though these leaders were from many different sectors, we saw familiar benefits of community spread the longer we were together: Support – and friendship – through the sharing of ideas, stories and yes, complaints too.

If you’re interested in participating in our next Leadership Development Program cohort, register your interest and we will notify you as soon the next cohort is announced.


Option 2: Build capacity in your sector by facilitating cross-organizational management training

One of our clients’ top priorities is to ensure that everyone receives the services they need. To achieve this goal, organizations not only need skillful leaders, they also need effective managers.

A management training program that brings managers together from like-minded organizations creates an operational alignment that enables teams and individuals to share processes, templates, and policies. Furthermore, relationships are developed that offer the emotional support that non-profit workers need to stay strong in their purpose. It allows organizations to pool ideas, structures – and to some extent, resources.

Case Study: Partnering with a Lead Agency

We have been fortunate to work with lead agencies representing networks of child and youth services organizations.Together, Laridae and the lead agencies have created and delivered a bespoke management training program for more than 60 managers across this particular area of responsibility.

The act of bringing these managers together has enabled them to create a community that didn’t exist before. These leaders have similar roles in similar programs dotted throughout a broad region, yet most had never met. Most did not realize that their issues were also someone else’s issues – perhaps someone not that far away and who might meet for a coffee once in a while just to talk things out.

If you’re interested in this kind of cross-organizational training, let us know. If you are a lead agency or a community hub, we can help coordinate training to support your members. If you’re an independent organization, we can help you pitch this idea to your peers.


Option 3: Make Connections through an Online Community

As executive directors, CEOs, and managers graduate from their training, they have the opportunity to continue nurture and build relationships via The Pier, a purpose-built online community that encourages cross-collaboration and networking, not just within a sector, but across all non-profits sectors.

Based on current developing trends, I wouldn’t be surprised to see lead organizations pool training resources toward group memberships in The Pier, to provide the largest possible number of people with access to the power combo of learning + community.

You can learn more about The Pier on its website, or connect directly with us to discuss the options for group memberships.


Option 4: Create alignment within your own organization via Stakeholder Engagement

As consultants, when we undertake any sort of planning with a client – whether it be strategic planning, operational planning, or communications planning – we encourage each organization to go on a journey of stakeholder engagement. This takes some courage and commitment to honest reflection, and the results can often surprise us.

An effective engagement process, which may leave you feeling open and vulnerable as a leader or as an organization, helps to re-energize relationships. When people feel heard and acknowledged, they start to re-engage with an organization. We see early buy-in to plans that are not yet completed. Your stakeholders – staff, board, service providers/partners, donors, volunteers – have a keen interest in seeing you succeed. They are a non-profit’s greatest gift and asset – they are its community.

If you are interested in kickstarting your thinking about a stakeholder engagement initiative that nurtures and builds strong, reciprocal relationships, get in touch and we can schedule a 30-minute consultation session to help you evaluate which opportunities would provide the greatest benefit to your organization.


Planning for your year ahead

As you enter this last phase of your year and look towards what is to come, as many non-profits are, you are likely looking back on what you’ve accomplished and seeing what is still left to fulfill. I encourage you to find and leverage your own community for assistance. You don’t need to do it all alone! And certainly, Laridae is here to help.

In our experience, there are specific types of projects that sound great to non-profit leaders at the start of year when budgets are fresh and there is nothing but time ahead – but they somehow always become a last-minute scramble to complete.

Creativity, collaboration, and community are three of our core values, each of which we lean in to when working with you to find solutions that match your capacity and resources, and move you closer to your goals.

As you plan ahead and identify the things remaining on your to do list, as well as set your goals for 2021, remember that Laridae is available and ready to support you. Whether that be working with your peers across organizations to create common practices and approaches, together; crossing off an organizational ‘To Do’; building internal capacity and management skills; or meeting your own personal goals.

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