Johnson Board Fellows: Emi Kanzawa and Matthew Bernard, both MBA ’11
Women’s Opportunity Center
Project: The Women’s Opportunity Center (WOC) just lost over $400,000 of state and county funding and had to give up some of their key programs as well as staff. While they could survive with savings for couple of years, we wanted to present them with options to diversify their funding source.
Challenges: The center was experiencing a crisis they have never experienced before and a lot of time during the board meeting was devoted to sharing how the crisis affected the day-to-day operation of the center. So, we had to infer from those discussions what WOC should look like at normal times and how we can close the gap. Also, the reduced number of staff limited our options as to what we can do to solve the problem.
Strategy: We approached both the organization’s leadership and the staff, observed the deficiencies, and identified places where we can add value. We thought putting more structure into current and future fundraising efforts will be beneficial to the WOC and we created our recommendation following these four steps:
- Identify goals and milestones
- Define targets
- Develop marketing plan
- Develop implementation plan/time line
Outcome: We created a strategy for diversifying the funding base and it was well received by the board. One of the board members said, “We can always come back to this document to frame our thoughts,” which was exactly what we intended.
Value: We were able to learn how a nonprofit organization deals with adversity and how board members work with staff. It was also an opportunity to meet great people who contribute so much to the local community.
Feedback: Linda Johanson, Women’s Opportunity Center board chair, wrote: “Emi and Matt's project was particularly valuable because it provided us with the outline of a strategic plan to revamp our funding model over the next few years. The WOC suddenly lost funding from several government sources at the same time, causing us to suspend our Welfare to Work and Rural Outreach programs when we lost eight staff members. As newcomers to the organization and MBA students adept at analyzing business problems, [Emi and Matt] could provide us with a new perspective on how to replace the lost government funding with other sources and rebuild the program. Despite their busy schedules, Emi and Matt made a concerted effort to learn about the WOC by attending board meetings and events and were there when we needed both new ideas and physical help for fundraising. We'll really miss them, but we know they'll do well in their new jobs because they did so much for us.”