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Journal of Public Affairs Education

Transformational Service

Transformational Service and Action Learning The Koina Center is developing a sound financial management agenda through diversification (e.g., grants, individual donations, membership dues, the use of an outside consultant, and the employment of in-kind/donated services). Rather than compete with nationally recognized organizations with established records of measurable outcomes, the center has opted for local resources and smaller sums of funds where their recognition could be more easily leveraged. For example, the board of directors has transferred the contracted efforts of Mr. Scott Eckart “as a consultant on the capital campaign for the high school” to the Koina Center, where his skills would essentially “help everyone” (see Appendix B). As the Koina Center concentrates on these resources, the student partners from future grant-writing courses will research avenues for funding outside the region through the online Foundation Directory database (i.e., leading source of information on U.S. grantmakers and their grantmaking activities; Foundation Directory, 2010). Organizational Documents. Of all the sections of the FRO, this is the most direct. Basically, the team reviews current documents—such as business or strategic plans, Form 990s (i.e., the information that most public charities are required by law to submit annually to the IRS; GuideStar, 2010), past grants, assessment protocols, board of directors, and client testimonials—to determine what additional information can be gleaned and then used toward the writing of better grant proposals and the realization of greater fiscal sustainability. When these resources are not available to an organization, particularly a newer one, team members can help that organization attain and complete these records as part of their service-learning experience. The remainder of this section clarifies the usage of the items provided by the Koina Center. Although only three documents were provided for this section (e.g., a 2007 cash flow statement, a past grant, and the board of directors list), they reveal a wealth of potential for building unique relationships within the larger community (e.g., West Michigan–Grand Rapids area and the LCMS). For example, news of an upcoming strategic planning meeting allows the board of directors to review the establishment of management strategies, revisit challenges and strengths, and consider pending needs for greater board education in relation to existing cash flows. Examination of the Church Extension Fund (CEF) grant highlights the center’s ability to secure funds with measurable outcomes and allows team members to get a better grasp of what the organization is doing. While the enthusiasm to seek “unlimited” funds reflects the passion of a younger nonprofit, it is carefully balanced by sound management principles (e.g., smaller grants and community buy-in) and guidance from committed board members, who serve simultaneously as administrators and parents. There is no doubt that as the Koina Center grows and prospers, so will the wealth of information embedded within these documents. Journal of Public Affairs Education 35

Transformational Service and Action Learning Follow-up When considering the merits of the FRO in helping to sustain organizations dedicated to civic engagement and public service, the results must be inspected on two levels: for the Koina Center specifically and for students in general. Since January 2009, the Koina Center has expanded its grant-seeking endeavors to a total of 11 submissions seeking $183,500. Of these proposals, three have been funded with a dollar value of $16,000 toward school and ministry promotion and development (e.g., training seminars and donor solicitation); still pending is another $60,000 for technology enhancement for the center and elementary, middle, and high schools. In addition to the grants monies just delineated, the Koina Center is implementing the proposed solutions for achieving fund diversification as outlined in its FRO through the use of donors, online donations, and membership dues (see Appendix B). During the past year and a half, a sluggish U.S. economic growth has translated into a decline in foundational support (Independent Sector, 2010b). While some public service agencies might have become disillusioned by these untimely events, the Koina Center utilized this time to re-strategize the cost effectiveness of its fiscal decision making. For example, to move past the $10,000 threshold for single grant awards, the Koina Center has begun to leverage the larger sums desired, such as $50,000 or more, into several smaller (e.g., $20,000 + $20,000 + $10,000 = $50,000) or matching grants (i.e., the funding from one grant source is used as an enticement to draw in other funders and reduce the expenditure from any sole funder). This tactic allows the center to gain greater visibility in the grantmaking world while building novel collaborations amid potential funders. For the Koina Center, the FRO has been a successful tool in planning and securing the necessary funds for ongoing projects and endeavors. While the FRO helps public service agencies address their concerns for fiscal solvency, it also facilitates the service-learning experiences of students. In particular, it focuses students’ attention on the following three learning challenges. First, grant writing as part of a larger funding agenda is hard work, especially when translating objectives into measurable outcomes. This phase of the grant-writing process is awkward because students are required to understand the organization’s needs and strengths, its community’s needs, and the goals of potential funders. This kind of thinking forces students beyond the passion for a program or mission into (a) quantifying the number of individuals or systems to be affected, (b) outlining an efficient manner or method for accomplishing anticipated outcomes, and (c) utilizing evaluation protocols to substantiate success. Second, spending time to devise a strategy or plan of action for the selection of and approach to foundations is critical in the advancement of the organization’s goals. For example, deciding when to seek matching grants versus single grants and determining whether to approach local or national funders can mean all the difference to an agency’s survival. Third, it is imperative to call the right partners to the table 36 Journal of Public Affairs Education

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