Planning to Change the World: 2009’s WOW List

In yesterday’s post, I shared the ambitious goals we had set two years ago, to lay the groundwork for the Community-Driven Institute.  Having founded two prior organizations, we knew it was necessary to lay that firm foundation while our consulting firm was still incubating this new organization. With that nurturing start, the Institute would be more likely to find its wings and eventually take flight as its own entity – which is precisely what it will be doing in 2010!

The work we did in 2008 made all we accomplished in 2009 possible.  It was 2008 when we developed and taught “Creating the Future of Your Community” as a graduate level university class.  That was also the year we gathered experts from across the US and Canada to help us develop the Consultants Curriculum at the Institute.  It was 2008 when we traveled the breadth of the continent to spread the mission that creating visionary community change is not just possible – it is practical and doable. (In one trip alone we put 9,000 miles on the car in 3 months across + 20 states and 1 Canadian province).  And let’s not forget that 2008 was the year I wrote (and rewrote 3 complete times) The Pollyanna Principles.

We didn’t think anything could top what we accomplished in 2008. Boy were we wrong!  Herewith, the WOW List from 2009.

Goal #1 and Results
Goal #1: Raise awareness that creating visionary community and global change is not just possible, but practical and doable.  Use every means available (convening, teaching, writing, social media) to engage those who are ready to begin walking the path to creating visionary social change.

The list of accomplishments on this goal is so long, we got tired just typing it all!

We published The Pollyanna Principles!

Simultaneously launched the book and the Community-Driven Institute
• Teleclass “Introduction to Community-Driven Consulting attended by 50 people
• Interviews / Reviews in over a dozen online & print publications, including a “life-changing” review at CharityChannel
• Created Facebook page for the book
• Created Facebook group for CDI
• Created a Wikipedia page for the book
• Great launch discussion at Facebook
+100 people attended launch event in Prescott

Produced the video Introduction to the Pollyanna Principles: Viewed in 10 minute segments by almost 3,600 people on YouTube. Another + 400 people viewed the full-length video on Blip TV.

Arranged 6 week tour of New Zealand / Australia, including conference keynote, University lecture, week-long consultant immersion course, and community-based workshops (March & April 2010).

National School Boards Association
Keynoted awards lunch at NSBA annual conference. Topic: “School Districts as Catalysts for Community Success”
• Article in American School Boards Journal: “School Districts as Catalysts for Community Success”
• MORE than makes up for the plagiarism event that led to all this!!!

Social Media successes
• Spearheaded, developed and facilitating monthly Twitter chat for consultants to Community Benefit organizations (#NPCons).
• Developed #NPCons website for that chat.
• Initiation and ongoing facilitation of the CDI discussion group at Facebook.
• Doubled blog visits from EOY 2008 to EOY 2009. Twitter followers grew from 79 in December 2008 to almost 2700 and cited as “highly influential” in December 2009. Other social media stats similarly significant (Facebook, LinkedIn, web visits at, etc.)

Built incredible relationships with individuals throughout the sector / around the world, to engage dialogue / build the message. Those relationships led to:
• Facilitated 2 week-long online discussions on behalf of Skoll Foundation – one on Boards as Leaders and another on Issue Fatigue
• Facilitated 2 live online discussions for the Chronicle of Philanthropy – one on Doing More With Less in Hard Times (technically December of 2008 – and man did I hate that title!) and another on Board Recruitment
• Quoted as governance expert in New York Times

Engaged dialogue at home in Tucson!
One of the nice things about building the Institute this year was that we got to spend more time in Tucson than we normally do (and 2010 will immediately have us back on the road!).  Here is some of what we accomplished here at home this year:
• 65 people attended governance workshop – in the desert in the middle of summer!!
• Produced DVD from that workshop, for use in Consultant Immersion Course
• Produced YouTube clips from that workshop – total viewings: almost 600 in 2 months
• Developed and facilitating monthly Boards & Governance Learning Community in Tucson
• Participating in ongoing local discussions re: building an MSO in Tucson
• Facilitated discussions for Tucson Pima Arts Council re: “What Can We Accomplish Together that We Can’t Accomplish Individually?”

Goal #2 and Results
Goal #2: Use demonstration projects to prove that visionary change is both possible and practical.

We spent much of 2009 discussing possible demonstration projects.

In some cases, we began and/or continued work in areas with the potential to grow into demonstration projects. The two most salient were community foundations with great potential for changing the modus operandi of how we fund community change:
• Consulting on vision-based strategy and organizational sustainability for Dalia Association, the Palestinian Community Foundation.
• Facilitation of vision and values discussions with Nebraska Community Foundation

Exploratory discussions also grew from other work, most notably the keynote and article written for the National School Boards Association.  (Project: How might Community-Driven Governance apply to the work of an elected body, where each individual believes he/she was elected to uphold his/her own vision/values rather than work towards shared vision/values?)

Lastly, the project that received most of our attention was one about which I blogged back in November – building Community-Driven Management Support Organizations. Towards that end, our January 2010 immersion course is exclusively for leaders in MSO’s. We have had numerous conversations with leaders of state associations of “nonprofit organizations” and with MSO leaders around the world. And we traveled to discuss the possibility of developing a Community-Driven MSO in cities such as Pittsburgh and in Lincoln, Nebraska.

As you will see in tomorrow’s installment, building Community-Driven Management Support Organizations will likely be the demonstration project we develop in our next plan.

Goal #3 and Results
Goal #3: Develop curriculum and teach those who are ready to apply this immediately to their work, creating ongoing supportive learning communities as part of that process.

Wow did we ever accomplish this goal!  In 2008, a group of top consultants from across the US and Canada spent 5 days with us, helping to develop the first curriculum for the Institute – the immersion course for consultants.  In 2009, we accomplished the following:

• Developed / refined syllabus, scheduled & coordinated back-end and taught 4 classes.
• Developed the role of “Seasoned Participant” as part of the ongoing path to embodying the Pollyanna Principles in a consultant’s work
• Post-session monthly conference calls: well-attended, generative, insightful, energizing.
• Created a video showing the power of the Consultants curriculum.
• Consultant results in their own communities have been remarkable. (Many are documented in the video. Evaluation metrics are being developed now to document and report these results, especially compared to the conditions we intend those courses to affect.)
• Developed a blog specifically for Community-Driven Consulting
• Discussions / planning for other phases of the curriculum, specifically pathways for moving beyond “doing” this work, where consultants transform to think and “be” as Catalysts for Social Change
• Consultants course has been consistently attended by consultants with 20 and 30 years of experience, seeking to transform their work from “consulting” to “catalyzing community change.” In each case, the most seasoned of consultants talk about being “transformed” by the classes, with the transformation changing not just their consulting, but often everything about the way they live their lives.

In addition to the powerful results of the immersion courses, we have begun bringing Community-Driven curricula to college level “Nonprofit Management” courses.  In 2009, we began working with Professor Angela Eikenberry at the University of Nebraska Omaha, to develop a syllabus that moves beyond simply using The Pollyanna Principles as text, and instead actually models the principles in the very structure of the course.

Lastly, in 2009 we began an effort to engage Nonprofit Technology leaders to explore the development of an open source interface to address all the web needs of any organization.  The goal is to ensure that technology for creating websites and blogs, online classrooms and libraries, online communities and forums, and any other online education and engagement need – would be available for FREE for ALL organizations EVERYWHERE.  (While individual components may already be available, they are not easily integrated without tech savvy that is sorely lacking in the majority of organizations. This not only severely limits their success in engaging those who can help their mission; it limits their ability to participate in supportive learning communities and online education experiences.)

That’s it for our goals and results for 2009.

In 2010, the Community-Driven Institute will move out of the nest we created through our consulting firm, and spread its wings as its own tax exempt organization. And when that happens, we can barely imagine the possibilities that lie ahead.

We know in the core of our being that the only thing stopping this sector from changing the world is that current systems preclude that change.  Our goal as we move forward in developing the Institute is therefore simple: change those systems and aim this sector at its highest potential – making our world a healthy, vibrant, resilient, humane, peaceful place for all of us.

Unless something is physically impossible, it is possible. Join us tomorrow as we share what we will be doing in 2010 to turn the “possible” into the “practical” and “doable” and “achievable.”

10 Responses to Planning to Change the World: 2009’s WOW List

  1. Hildy, what a wonderful set of accomplishments. I am so proud of you all and glad you are taking such a stand for deep change within our sector. I look forward to finding a way to work more with you and your principles. Your approach is so very badly needed! The sector urgently needs to shift from the stagnant way so many nonprofits do business.

  2. Gail:
    We can’t wait to have you join us! (We have a consultants class coming up in February – and you can’t beat Tucson in February!)

  3. Excellent work! Thanks for sharing the inspiration. I definitely want to connect with you and learn more. I have a feeling I’m meant to attend the CDI. 🙂

    Kudos to you for the great work!

  4. Hi Hildy –
    WOW. You sure accomplished a lot, and you’re not sitting back on your laurels, either! I am so excited about the idea of the open source interface development – and looking forward to following that development. I think it’s a wonderful, disruptive (in a good way) idea that illustrates beautifully everything that the CDI is doing. Best of luck in your teaching and consulting ventures; I’ll be here reading about them.