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.


Paper Cuts and Eye Strain

Twenty years of hard work can leave behind a small mountain of paper files, and a mind-boggling number of electronic ones. Sorting, s(h)ifting, and organizing these voluminous records has produced several headaches, a dozen paper cuts, and plenty of afternoons where I can be caught wearing my sunglasses working on my computer.

However, I can honestly say, that since these records are now organized, I feel an enormous sense of accomplishment. Twenty years is a long time; yet, just one flow chart, application, or thoughtful memo can transport me back in time, remembering a discussion about whether or not we should publish a grants list, or a debate over should we monitor project outcomes at six-month and annual intervals.

While this initial entry is just to set the stage for what drama might be played out in the later postings, I found a few items from the beginning years that are both sentimental and informative.

I found the original want-ad in the Milwaukee Journal from 9 May 1994. 
Wanted: "Non-profit Management Fund Advisor
...Candidates should have substantial experience in working with diverse nonprofit organizations and a knowledge of effective strategies to improve organizational and management skills, and board, resources and staff development..."

On an agenda from a Committee meeting in May 1998, more than twelve items were listed for discussion, but two are interesting in hindsight.
¤ Should the Fund apply a for a Public Ally? (a government-sponsored public service initiative)

¤ Should the Fund accept funding from the City's Community Development Block Grant office for conducting diagnostic clinics of City-funded organizations?

(Note: We answered YES to the first question and NO to the latter).

Prior to the Y2K scare, the Fund was engaged in bringing nonprofits into the digital age.
"Based on the results from a series of group discussions and a survey of greater Milwaukee nonprofit organizations, the Fund launched a technology initiative in May 1999. As part of the planning process, the Fund Advisors and Sarah Dean of the Faye McBeath Foundation sought ideas and input from nonprofit administrators, consultants, university representatives, and intermediaries serving nonprofits, among others.
From the Milwaukee Fund, $46,440 in technology grants were made in 1999 for projects ranging from software installation and training to an extensive analysis of technology needs. "

1 comment | Add a New Comment
1. Alicia | March 12, 2014 at 02:59 PM EDT

Y2K! Wow. That's a good reminder of how little time it actually took for technology to commandeer our lives.

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