A Look Under the Hood: How We Do What We Do

Posted on February 1, 2018

We talk a lot about helping organizations scale and grow so that more people can break the cycle of poverty. But, exactly HOW do we do that? Here’s a look “under the hood” to understand more about our organization development approach to serving our partners and increasing social impact.

Our approach to growth and scaling isn’t just about providing the financial resources to make it happen. It’s much more complex than that.

There’s a common problem in the nonprofit industry where investors and philanthropists apply a double standard to nonprofits, ultimately inhibiting the long-term growth of the organization. The nonprofit starvation cycle plagues some of the most effective organizations by limiting the capital and capacity they need to grow their impact.

That’s why, alongside financial support, we provide operational expertise in areas such as technology, marketing and communications, management tools and resources, and more, to ensure organizations can maximize limited resources for greater impact. We help organizations steward resources in the most impactful manner, recognizing that many times capacity building and operations are where we can help the most.

How Do We Do It?

Both through the Catalyst Program and our larger investments, we apply a proven for-profit business management philosophy to our programs and services, helping Catalysts think economically and strategically about their organization. Developed and implemented by Koch Industries, Market-Based Management® is a framework for decision-making and management that helps organizations and businesses think differently and more effectively about taking risks, hiring talent, building culture, setting vision, and maximizing value – whether for-profit or not.

Key to our approach as well is the mindset that organizations must exercise ownership and management of any changes to their infrastructure. What we mean by that is, we don’t just help implement a new process or system, but we make sure Catalysts feel ownership over the changes and can manage the process or system effectively long after we’re gone.

Typical for-profit consulting might reduce the risk of an investment by structuring contracts up-front with specific requirements, deliverables, and obligations, in part guaranteeing a certain level of success. This approach helps mitigate risk by spelling out the project specifically from the beginning, but it doesn’t allow for unexpected developments along that way.

Stand Together employs an altogether distinct approach with an emphasis on long-term partnership, shared outcomes, and the discovery process. Here’s how we do it.

  1. First, we consider all our consulting relationships as partnerships. From the moment we establish a relationship with a Catalyst, we acknowledge that we don’t have all the answers. Catalysts are the experts in their communities. We cannot — and should not! — enter the domains of our Catalysts and change them from the top down. They’re the experts on their programs and services, not us!

Instead, we integrate ourselves into the framework of a Catalyst. We discuss their vision, we work hand-in-hand with them to formulate a strategy designed to suit their interests — whether that be expansion, replication, or efforts to scale — and we help them develop an actionable plan with best practices in mind. We leverage our strengths in applying business thinking to help Catalysts do what they do best — empower individuals to change their lives and break the cycle of poverty.

  1. We structure partnerships with shared outcomes in mind so that both parties take away something valuable from the engagement. Doing so ensures that our team is incentivized to deliver the best services possible to our partners, and our partners are receiving the maximum value out of the partnership, in line with their vision. And, we’re able to capture and apply what we learn from each partnership to constantly improve and innovate.
  2. The solution is different for every partner, of course, and that’s why we must remain agile in our equal partnership. Because we embrace the process of discovering the root causes of organizational obstacles and we emphasize long-term value over specific contractual deliverables, we can remain flexible while deploying the industry expertise, tools, and practices at our disposal. We might make an investment and uncover that our partner needs something different than what we originally thought to meet their objectives. Our flexibility allows us to work with our Catalysts to discover what can be improved, working to ensure that our Catalysts own that investment, too.

 

This is where Stand Together is different. Our team works not only to cultivate the right infrastructure for Catalysts but also to prepare Catalysts to operate that infrastructure, ensuring continued success. With each investment, goals move, demands change, and variables shift. And, we’re committed to staying the course.

By investing in the sustainable increased impact of our Catalysts, we’re ultimately carrying out our vision to foster personal transformation in individuals and communities working to escape the cycle of poverty.