Issue 69 - Winter 2022
The new year looks bright, even with Covid and other challenges swirling around us. Being able to safely enjoy in-person holiday visits with friends reminded me that we're making some progress. I have an interesting year ahead and am particularly excited about participating in partnership webinars for Pro Bono Partnership of Ohio and the Kentucky Nonprofit Network. Registration details will soon be available.

I have also been thinking a lot about the exceptional group of independent professionals who serve as my referral partners. The group is diverse in skill sets, highly competent and emotionally present for clients, able to drill down on feelings and organizational culture. Each brings a flexible, personal approach to the work, which is customized, free of cookie-cutter processes. I am honored to share their consulting lives and grateful for all I have learned from each of them. When looking for just the right resource, please consider the criteria below.
Expert referrals
The decision to refer someone is both complicated and significant. When you ask for or make a referral, consider four key factors that must go into that decision:

Trust. If you share some history with the person who is making the referral, that will serve as your foundation for considering their suggestions. In most cases, your observation of their decision-making habits will lead you to take or reject their advice. If you do not know the person making the referral, check with trusted colleagues who can speak to his or her credibility, because moving forward with a referral essentially means you trust the person who made it.

True Expertise. While content knowledge matters, a true expert has the capacity to translate and interpret the specifics for others. He or she also understands the situation at both big picture and micro levels, a balancing act that requires far more than formal knowledge. Most situations requiring a consultant referral are complex and often undefined. A seasoned professional can assess those fuzzy goals and help create a clear vision for everyone involved.

Reputation. Even if you have a positive view of the referral source, take into account what others think about their judgment and values. If you learn that most of your colleagues view the referring person as you do, then you can feel more comfortable about your decision. It is important to learn about the consultant being referred and you will want to know if others have been pleased with their work.

Experience. In most cases, a person's direct, relevant experience can make all the difference. A consultant may have achieved success on a particular project, but their skill set may not transfer to a different topic, or to a project that differs significantly in size or complexity. If a consultant can't point to similar projects and demonstrate proficiency, ask them to recommend a colleague with more direct experience. Don't hesitate to ask them for details on the project and get recommendations from their current or past clients.

I review these four criteria when someone asks for professionals who specialize in a particular type of work. And, after walking through my list of questions, my referral usually comes down to fit and personality. For example, I work with several people who provide fund development services, but some of them are best matched with a certain kind of client and not necessarily appropriate for all nonprofits. I want the consultant and the potential client to not only do good work together but to enjoy the process. As you think about what outside expertise you need, keep in mind the above factors and I'm happy to share more individually.

And as a reminder, my independent consultant partners provide the following services:

  • Fund development/philanthropy
  • Strategic planning
  • Enterprise development
  • Board development and training
  • Financial management & forecasting expertise
  • Event planning
  • Integrated health services management
  • Transition leadership
  • Organizational development and coaching
  • Video conferencing training
  • Administrative support services
  • Human Resources
  • Communication, marketing & public relations
  • Project management
  • Evaluation
"We are remembering all the work you did on the needs assessment and how CRITICAL it was in getting the program to the right home. Nice to see that it's thriving." - Funder

"Congrats on your 30-year anniversary! Think of all the amazing support you have provided our community during those thirty years. We are all so grateful for everything you have contributed through the years." - Nonprofit CEO

"Oh, so many mergers, people, groups, causes that have benefited from your wisdom and work." - Human services planning committee member.

"Awesome information in your newsletter and what consultant can say they were valuable to so many others for that long sustained?" - Behavioral health CEO
Shooting Midnight Cowboy by Glenn Frankel gives us a behind-the-scenes scoop on this classic movie, and it is one fascinating read. I was particularly moved by the close relationship that grew between the lead actors and how the experience impacted their lives and careers.

Of special interest to those focused in Ohio healthcare is The Hospital: Life, Death and Dollars in a Small American Town. Brian Alexander's book focuses on Bryan, Ohio but clearly captures the politics and struggles of any smaller community hospital and the impact of poverty and corporate greed on service delivery. I still think about the characters and highly recommend it.

One Hundred Miles of Baseball: Fifty Games, One Summer is just the ticket in January! Author Heidi L. M. Jacobs and her husband attended fifty games within driving distance of their home in Ontario and rediscovered their love of the game. For those of us who are waiting for Opening Day, this book helps fill the gap.

I have a particular interest in civil liberties and the judicial system but was stunned by my lack of awareness when I read Profit and Punishment: How America Criminalizes the Poor in the Name of Justice by Tony Messenger. The Pulitzer-winning author presents a chilling chronicle of the widespread financial burdens placed upon those charged and convicted when they are unable to pay local government-sanctioned fines. Debtor prisons have been alive and well, although reform efforts are underway.
Cincinnati Preschool Promise
Cincinnati Preschool Promise (CPP) offers a key to early learning success. In 2016, Cincinnati voters passed a levy funding an initiative to bring high-quality education to the city's preschoolers. Since then, Cincinnati Preschool Promise has worked hard to make sure every child is kindergarten-ready. The levy was renewed in 2020, thereby expanding an opportunity for the city's youngest learners, resulting in 6,141 preschool students and 464 preschool classrooms being supported. Through another very challenging year, CPP was able to adapt to the changes in learning and continue to provide a solid educational environment for children in classrooms, in the community, and at home.

Executive Director & CEO Chara Fisher Jackson emphasizes a child's ability to be more successful throughout life if they have a strong academic start. Jackson says, "We have to continue to make sure our results are impactful for our children and families, preschool teachers, providers, and our schools and neighborhoods."

CPP doesn't just help families enroll their children in a high-quality preschool; they work to ensure everyone who needs it has equitable access. As a CPP parent notes, "For my family, childcare is our highest expense. Without tuition assistance, I couldn't afford to send my children to preschool."

Cincinnati Preschool Promise offers many ways to be involved in their work. Promise Readers, CPP Ambassadors, and other volunteer positions significantly help extend the educational experiences of preschoolers and their families. From promoting the importance of preschool to sharing the benefits of the CPP, there are ways volunteers can keep the promise going by being a part of the work.

For more information and updates on Cincinnati Preschool Promise activities, visit their website and follow them on social media.
End Point
Referrals are like all relationships - chemistry matters. Here's hoping you find the right connections this season that will elevate your project, your mission and your motivation.
Best wishes,
553 East 4th Street,
Newport, KY 41071