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Business Discussion


Shared Services

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Background

A $180MM national nonprofit with significant event-based fundraising embarks on a project to create shared services.

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Challenge

Event fundraising had recently come to a halt, and the organization wanted to rebuild utilizing shared services.

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Solution

Provide strategic planning, project management, and change management guidance to the internal working team.

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Result

Donor-centric, scalable, and efficient shared services operations that position the organization for growth.

The Whole Story

A large, national nonprofit organization with significant event-based fundraising embarks on a project to create shared services.

A $180MM annual revenue non-profit organization with a national footprint relied heavily on events, walks and galas, for donor acquisition and advancement.  The fundraising teams had been quite successful historically, but event fundraising had recently come to a halt. The organization needed to think about how to rebuild its event production with greater consistency of donor experience and efficiency.  Shared Services were identified as an opportunity to improve performance.

Stanton Blackwell’s Role

Provide strategic planning, project management, and importantly, change management guidance to the internal working team.

With deep experience in creating and migrating to a shared services operating environment, the team at Stanton Blackwell provided guidance on how to realize cost savings while not just maintaining but improving performance.  

The first priority was strategy.  We worked with the client team to envision a target operating model.  Together, we identified all the activities that were necessary to host a memorable event for donors that inspire giving.  We prioritized the activities that could be easily centralized and resulted in a significant field productivity boost and cost savings – the low-hanging fruit.  We also evaluated outsourcing options for event execution.  Using financial, operational, and donor satisfaction measures, we concluded that outsourcing was a great option in some cases.

 

Next, we created a road map, project plan, and financial projections.  The budgeting process was underway, and we were able to define discrete initiatives, establish timelines for execution, and estimate financial impact.  As a result, the upside from the project was built into the budget.

 

As execution got underway, we recommended a governance structure to keep the project on track for completion.  As a critical path deliverable, each project team was required to complete a change management risk assessment and action plan.  Through experience, we know that one of the hardest aspects of shared services adoption is managing change.  Losing control of processes, even when they are administrative, is scary when a regional executive’s revenue goal and reputation are on the line.

Results

Donor-centric, scalable, and efficient shared services operations that position the organization for growth and support the continued evolution and modernization of fundraising.

Transitioning to a shared services operating model is a challenging project, this one was no exception.  It requires strategic thinking, a willingness to change, and a great deal of trust between the field and central support teams.  When outsourcing is included, a third party makes the project one degree more complex.  By emphasizing collaboration and change management from the beginning, and by using metrics and data to drive decisions, we helped our client adopt a new, more effective and efficient, way of operating.

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Contributor: Anne Gehring
Anne Gehring is a Founding Partner of Stanton Blackwell.  Throughout her career, Anne has led teams to solve complex problems through collaboration and structured execution.  She has a passion for people development and has been a strong advocate for talent diversity since her career began over thirty years ago.

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