In 2014, Pat Wyzbinski undertook her final major assignment for the Nonprofit Management Fund. Her job was to chronicle the first 20 years of the Fund, beginning with its 1994 launch. This blog, comprising insights from how to best spend $100,000 on capacity building to reasons for declining a proposal, was a vehicle for her to document her thoughts while she led the compilation of the Fund’s history. Some entries were met with praise, and others sparked some controversy. This blog is a resource that can provide anyone in the nonprofit sphere with an insight into Pat's way of thinking.


Happy 30th Anniversary!

Today, Management Cornerstones Inc. turns 30. It’s been a phenomenal journey through creative periods, client successes, and community accomplishments. These 30 years have also encompassed lean times, work overloads, and small business turmoil. However, I am so glad we did it!
Scott Gelzer and I, along with two colleagues, decided to open our consulting firm by signing a lease on a small suite of offices in the historic Uptown Bank Building in Chicago on 1 April 1984. The four of us boasted a large network of contacts in the nonprofit sector and a wide range of management skills. As the impetus for the firm, I also had nine years of consulting experience with a lengthy client list.
For the first 13 years, we consulted on all aspects of nonprofit management; trained in a variety of management and governance topics; conducted dozens of management audits; published an array of articles and manuals; and, facilitated hundreds of Board retreats.
Over 4,000 nonprofits benefitted from our advice and assistance. Yes, we really have client list the size of a phone directory for a small town! For 98% of those contracts, we were consultants--teaching, demonstrating, and enabling the client to move forward in the future without further guidance from us.
On the other hand, for the past 20 years, Management Cornerstones has been under contract as the Fund Advisor to the Nonprofit Management Fund “staffing” the oversight Committee of funding partners; managing the grant-making activities; and, designing, if not implementing, the initiatives. We played the role of contractor rather than consultant.
The Fund was often criticized, or at least received many dazed looks, when we approved a policy that we would not underwrite independent contractors who were acting as staff. Instead, we funded local nonprofits to engage consultants to provide technical assistance that would build their capacity. Although the difference may be subtle, it is far more than semantics.
Whatever path the Fund chooses to follow in the future, I am glad to have had the opportunity to have served in both roles over the past 30 years!

12 comments | Add a New Comment
1. Linda Nieft | April 01, 2014 at 04:29 PM EDT

Congratulations! As an organization that has been able to grow and develop through your counsel and support we also say Thank You.

2. Frank Martinelli | April 01, 2014 at 04:29 PM EDT

Pat, Congratulations on the 30th Anniversary of Management Cornerstones! Here's to many more!

3. Francis X. Vogel | April 01, 2014 at 04:36 PM EDT

A hearty congratulations, Pat, to you, Scott and Management Cornerstones on your impressive milestone anniversary! And while this is April Fools Day, it's also no joke that I often tell folks that you've forgotten more about nonprofit management than other people will ever know. Many thanks to you and your company for all the positive change you've made in southeastern Wisconsin and beyond these past three decades. Keep on truckin'!

4. Jean Butzen | April 01, 2014 at 04:49 PM EDT

Congratulations, Pat and Scott! I was one of the recipients of your consulting advice and training and I know that I and my nonprofits benefited greatly from our relationship with your firm. I remember the day you did the management audit for the first nonprofit that I was leading, and it was a lengthy list! You even helped me uncurl my telephone cord that was all twisted up; you would go to any length :) to help a nonprofit client, Pat. Thanks for being there for me.

5. Karen Higgins | April 01, 2014 at 05:59 PM EDT

Celebrate! The nonprofit sector in both Chicago and Milwaukee have benefitted immensely from your work! From the first development grant to classes with you to surviving an assessment both you and Scott worked on, I have learned and been challenged to be a better leader. I also appreciate how Management Cornerstones truly believes in helping grassroots organizations, the little guys who do good work and don't always have the resources to help them, build capacity. Thank you for 30 years and what is still to come!

6. Denise Patton | April 01, 2014 at 06:59 PM EDT

Congrats to two of my favorite hard working people. Pat and Scott you have both impacted me and my small business with genuine care, kindness and tough love. Management Cornerstone has been a role model for the nonprofit consultant arena and for the up and coming consultants during the past decade. Let's stay connected.

7. Reed and Andrea Gelzer | April 01, 2014 at 09:40 PM EDT

Congratulations Pat and Scott to two of our favorite people. You are rightly proud of the many MGT milestones and accomplishments.

Reed and Andrea

8. Helen Ramon | April 02, 2014 at 09:10 AM EDT

Congratulations to you! Thirty years is a long time in any field. You were so helpful to me when I was working for a non-profit and also now that I'm on the funders side. I have always respected your opinion.

Hope you take a few moments to celebrate your accomplishment.

9. Kathy Gale | April 02, 2014 at 01:56 PM EDT

The 30 year anniversary is recognized in the \modern\ giving practice with a diamond, while \traditional\ is pearl. I vote for having both of you receive a pearl and a diamond for the work that you've done over the three decades. One grant at a time, one conversation or phone call at a time, you've moved boards and organizations in the right direction, and helped many communities to become healthier.


10. Lynnea Katz-Petted | April 02, 2014 at 04:21 PM EDT

You have been a tremendous driver and a force behind so many of the successful nonprofits in this City and beyond. Congratulations and thank you for your role in my success and for your friendship along the way. Cheers to both you and Scott and a heartfelt thank you of gratitude for all you are and all you have contributed!

11. Brenda Peterson | April 02, 2014 at 09:53 PM EDT

Happy Anniversary! Thank you for helping so many small nonprofits.

12. Scott Gelzer | April 09, 2014 at 03:42 PM EDT

Hi everyone and thanks so much for the good wishes, congratulations, et. al.

Ideas for the next 30 years (maybe less!) welcomed!

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