This is the Blackbaud Community Best Practices blog.

Denver Rescue Mission: Staying Sustainable And Successful In A Changing World

DENVER RESCUE MISSION | Staying sustainable and successful in a changing world

Marlissa Cunningham, Specialized Gift Coordinator at Denver Rescue Mission, has always made continuing education a priority in her career. This has made her a better nonprofit professional and a better partner to her colleagues.

Recently Marlissa engaged in new Organizational Best Practices courses from Blackbaud University. These classes gave her the tools to stay up-to-date on trends in the social good community. Here are some key takeaways from Marlissa’s presentation with Blackbaud University:


How has the nonprofit sector changed over the years, and how do organizations like Denver Rescue Mission deal with the changes? 
Marlissa talked about staying on top of industry changes by doing her own research—when she found an article that resonated with the changes she was experiencing at her organization. While organizations like hers are not large corporations, they experience very similar issues—in cybersecurity, for example—and suffer from these problems just like for-profits do. Marlissa stressed that the reputation of organizations like hers are actually more at risk because these issues affect the very fragile sustainability that keeps them reaching toward their mission every day.

Marlissa also realized that the needs of those who benefit from her organization and the abilities of donors to help have changed over the last 50 years, and they need to be responsive to these changes in real time.  

 
“Donor needs are changing, population needs are changing, and policy is changing; so right now, I really believe that there needs to be a sector-wide recommitment to organizational best practices. We’ve all experienced project isolation with not much talking and sharing of information in between—and that’s made for inconsistent results across the board. If we could all get on the same page of what we need to plan for, watch for, and move toward, I believe our whole sector could improve its reputation and impact. At the end of the day, we’re all here to meet our mission, support our causes, and make truly sustainable change. I really believe recommitment to organizational best practices can do that.”
 
How has Blackbaud University helped Marlissa and her organization, and how can it help you and yours?
Marlissa is Blackbaud Certified in Nonprofit Fundraising and encourages taking any of the classes available. The courses start with an evaluation of your current capacity and value, and the comprehensive working knowledge of the group really encourages collaboration. Marlissa emphasized how important it was that the classes were structured for collaboration, which is vital at her own organization and others in the sector: “Even within your own department—if you’re in development, you can accomplish nothing if you don’t talk to programs, if you don’t work with operations or your board…I really love how the courses reinforce that and make you collaborate. It’s very easy to see the impact.”

Why is it so important to not only be a technology expert, but also an industry expert?
Marlissa believes in seeing the bigger picture: All nonprofits are working toward the same goal of sustainability and experience the same problems of changing needs—“once you learn the bigger picture, you’re able to more effectively plan.” This leads to successes like quick turnaround and efficiency in projects and initiatives, measurable impact, attainable missions, and recognition of your expertise by your organization and your peers.

More importantly, Marlissa says all these things make your community more attracted to your organization, which is what keeps your organization living and breathing. If you can prove that you have sound practices, you can earn sustainability through the long-term investments of your donors within your community. That kind of longevity is priceless.

What impact and successes have you experienced with Organizational Best Practices courses from Blackbaud University? How has your industry knowledge enhanced your organization’s mission and yourself? Let us know in the comments!
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If you want to learn more about Marlissa’s experience with organizational best practices in the nonprofit sector, you can hear her thoughts on the impact of having industry expertise in this on demand webinar recording.
 
Learn more about taking Blackbaud University’s Organizational Best Practices classes here!
Posted by Brianna Weaver on Apr 23, 2018 3:01 PM America/New_York

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Great insight!  Love how proactive Marlissa is!  Giving me the push to seek bCNP-Fundraising cert!!!  Thanks for the push!!
  • Posted Tue 24 Apr 2018 10:00 AM EDT
I agree with Liz - this is maybe the push I needed to get the bCNP.
  • Posted Thu 26 Apr 2018 11:46 AM EDT
Very helpful information.
  • Posted Mon 30 Apr 2018 10:48 AM EDT
Same here - may need to get the bCNP.
  • Posted Mon 30 Apr 2018 11:00 AM EDT
Very helpful. I thought since I only work on database administration it would not benefit me but this article has changed my mind.  I will need to get my certification also.
  • Posted Mon 30 Apr 2018 11:30 AM EDT
Great information!
  • Posted Mon 30 Apr 2018 11:36 AM EDT
I, too, am certified and it was fun to see how much I already knew!  It gave me a lot of confidence in the work I'm doing.  Great post!  Thanks for sharing!
  • Posted Mon 30 Apr 2018 11:41 AM EDT
Very helpful information!
  • Posted Mon 30 Apr 2018 12:27 PM EDT
Hmmmm, perhaps time to consider this. 
  • Posted Mon 30 Apr 2018 12:34 PM EDT
We're lucky in Minnesota that we have a couple of organizations (Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, Charities Review Council) who help nonprofits stay connected with the big picture things that could have the biggest impact on both our donors and the people we serve through our programs. 
  • Posted Mon 30 Apr 2018 12:53 PM EDT
This is great thank you!
  • Posted Mon 30 Apr 2018 02:09 PM EDT
Thanks for this - great info!
  • Posted Mon 30 Apr 2018 02:10 PM EDT
Helpful info. Thanks!
  • Posted Mon 30 Apr 2018 02:12 PM EDT
I love Blackbaud's training courses. Can someone point me in the directon to find out more about Blackbaud University's Organizational Best Practices training subscription? I may want to invest in this, as long as it supports eTapestry.
 
  • Posted Mon 30 Apr 2018 02:16 PM EDT
Great Information
  • Posted Mon 30 Apr 2018 02:19 PM EDT
Hi Karen! You and anyone else interested in getting more information on the Organizational Best Practices Training Subscription can fill out the form here: https://hello.blackbaud.com/BBU-BestPractices.html 
  • Posted Mon 30 Apr 2018 02:19 PM EDT
Great insight!
  • Posted Mon 30 Apr 2018 02:23 PM EDT
Thank you. very informative and timely.
  • Posted Mon 30 Apr 2018 02:28 PM EDT
Marlissa is an inspiration. Thank you for taking the time to share. Since becoming a BB client I have become a training junkie. There is a lot of info out there and BB is a great place to land. 
  • Posted Mon 30 Apr 2018 02:28 PM EDT
Very helpful!
  • Posted Mon 30 Apr 2018 02:36 PM EDT
These are great professional development opportunities for new folks in the industry as well as experienced leaders - sometimes we all need a refresher!
  • Posted Mon 30 Apr 2018 02:45 PM EDT
Interesting....I did not know I could become certified in this area.  Thanks, Marlissa!
  • Posted Mon 30 Apr 2018 02:45 PM EDT
Thanks for sharing!
  • Posted Mon 30 Apr 2018 02:46 PM EDT
Sounds like the next step for those of us who are already certified RE professionals.
  • Posted Mon 30 Apr 2018 02:57 PM EDT
Always new challenges in this field.
  • Posted Mon 30 Apr 2018 03:21 PM EDT
so great to read about a group in Denver whose staff are so proactive.
  • Posted Mon 30 Apr 2018 03:36 PM EDT
This is incredible! Thanks for sharing!
  • Posted Mon 30 Apr 2018 05:38 PM EDT
Well done on completing the qualification Marlissa. I too have completed it and found the courses to be really useful.
  • Posted Tue 01 May 2018 02:37 AM EDT
Very interesting. I love the idea of continuing education.
  • Posted Tue 01 May 2018 08:45 AM EDT
Thanks for sharing! I have enjoyed the couple Best Practices courses that I have taken and am looking forward to taking more when I have the chance.
  • Posted Tue 01 May 2018 09:40 AM EDT
Hmmm. This has inspired me to consider getting certified in Nonprofit Fundraising - maybe even recommend it to my boss.
  • Posted Tue 01 May 2018 10:13 AM EDT
Nice.  I agree.  To expand as a tech export one needs to be an industry export as well.  Expands vision and collaboration. 
  • Posted Tue 01 May 2018 11:32 AM EDT
Great information. Looking forward to hearing more!
  • Posted Tue 01 May 2018 11:53 AM EDT
Great Information!
  • Posted Tue 01 May 2018 01:24 PM EDT
Thanks for sharing!
  • Posted Tue 01 May 2018 02:13 PM EDT
Similar to Marlissa, our organization signed on for a contract with Blackbaud to take these courses and really use Altru to it's fullest capabilities - or at least more than what we've previously done. It really revealed how everything is connected and how all departments need communication. We re-established our Altru team and we've been cleaning up our database and understanding each other's roles. It's important to understand what other departments are doing in your organization and what that looks like. These classes really assisted with knowing our database and the people of our organization. 
  • Posted Tue 01 May 2018 04:03 PM EDT
Thanks!
  • Posted Tue 01 May 2018 06:20 PM EDT
I agreeg Marlissa, things are changing and we as an idustry need to be able to keep up with them. Having best practices that can be shared are great because then we aren't wasting our time reinventing the wheel and we can spend more time on other things to help support our mission. Great job!
  • Posted Wed 02 May 2018 01:50 PM EDT
Very insightful - thanks for sharing!
  • Posted Wed 02 May 2018 02:09 PM EDT
It would be a great way to see what you know, and areas you might need more experience with. Thanks, Marlissa!
  • Posted Wed 02 May 2018 02:14 PM EDT
interesting read. Thanks for sharing
  • Posted Wed 02 May 2018 02:19 PM EDT
Helpful information. Thanks for sharing and encouraging us!
  • Posted Wed 02 May 2018 02:46 PM EDT
Thank you for highlighting that small non-profits can be even more impacted by changes and resulting challenges. All the more reason we need to educate ourselves!
  • Posted Wed 02 May 2018 02:50 PM EDT
Great work, Marlissa! I have taken several of these courses, and have more planned. I have found the information to be of great benefit in my role of DBA as I feel I am becoming better positioned to help them achieve their outcomes. Looking forward to continuing with the courses and achieving my bCNP-Fundraising certification. 
  • Posted Wed 02 May 2018 03:50 PM EDT
I couldn't agree more, Marlissa!
  • Posted Wed 02 May 2018 05:21 PM EDT
Very helpful- thanks for sharing!
  • Posted Wed 02 May 2018 09:05 PM EDT
This is a great writeup. I have taken the classes and gotten the Nonprofit fundraising certification and I have to agree, this is a great way to build a big picture view for staff.  
  • Posted Wed 02 May 2018 10:21 PM EDT
Great write up! Useful info to keep in mind.
  • Posted Thu 03 May 2018 09:07 AM EDT
Excellent information and highlights the need to be a life-long learner.
  • Posted Thu 03 May 2018 12:57 PM EDT
Super blog post! Congrats to Marlissa for moving forward. A definite incentive to look at bCNP!
 
  • Posted Thu 03 May 2018 02:44 PM EDT
Thanks for sharing!
  • Posted Fri 04 May 2018 11:05 AM EDT
Our little 2 person department has become very efficient with Blackbaud courses. Maybe bCNP is our next step...
  • Posted Fri 04 May 2018 12:34 PM EDT
Very informative. Thanks so much for taking the time to share.
 
  • Posted Mon 07 May 2018 11:05 AM EDT
Thank you for sharing!
  • Posted Mon 07 May 2018 11:22 AM EDT
I appreciate your focus on best practices and establishing our industry well!
  • Posted Tue 08 May 2018 09:43 AM EDT
Thank you for sharing Marlissa. Good insight. 
  • Posted Wed 09 May 2018 10:33 AM EDT
Love your passion and insight!
  • Posted Wed 09 May 2018 11:37 AM EDT
Love your passion and insight!
  • Posted Wed 09 May 2018 11:37 AM EDT
Thanks for the tips - it'd be great if this were an exam you could EARN through gathering points on Blackbaud Champions website... 
  • Posted Wed 09 May 2018 12:55 PM EDT
I think this is so true. Sometimes "database people" get pushed to the side and the "fundraisers" end up making all the decisions and it should be a joint effort.
  • Posted Wed 09 May 2018 01:15 PM EDT
Bigger picture. I like this. 
  • Posted Wed 09 May 2018 02:43 PM EDT
It's all about being proactive, not reactive! Thanks for sharing!
  • Posted Thu 10 May 2018 09:42 AM EDT
I've started the classes. Lifelong learning!!!
  • Posted Thu 10 May 2018 04:15 PM EDT
It's nice to see an article about being certified. I was hesitant at first but I am so proud to be professionally certified. Great article!
  • Posted Fri 11 May 2018 11:07 AM EDT
Thanks for sharing, couldn't  agree more.
  • Posted Fri 11 May 2018 12:04 PM EDT
Yes! Training and certification are goals I set for staff and myself.  It requires showing them that knowing a bit more actually makes their jobs easier, it's not always enough to show them the cool certification badge. :)
  • Posted Mon 14 May 2018 03:44 PM EDT
I want to get certified! Thanks for your post.
 
  • Posted Fri 18 May 2018 12:57 PM EDT
Great insight! I've nearly completed my Raiser's Edge Certification, and now I want to tackle the nonprofit certification next!
  • Posted Wed 23 May 2018 10:51 AM EDT
Very helpful!!
  • Posted Wed 23 May 2018 02:23 PM EDT
Thanks for the information and congratulations on your certificate!
  • Posted Thu 24 May 2018 10:33 AM EDT
Going to check this out Organizational Best Practices courses from Blackbaud University thank you
  • Posted Tue 29 May 2018 10:12 AM EDT
Knowledge is power :)
  • Posted Tue 29 May 2018 10:20 AM EDT
Very insightful.  I'll look deeper into the Organizational Best Practices courses.
  • Posted Tue 29 May 2018 07:55 PM EDT
Denver Rescue Mission is an incredible organization! We give every year at Thanksgiving! Great job Marlissa!
  • Posted Wed 30 May 2018 01:52 PM EDT
Interesting stuff :)
  • Posted Thu 31 May 2018 05:40 AM EDT
Great perspective
  • Posted Tue 05 Jun 2018 02:09 PM EDT
Love to hear success stories!
  • Posted Mon 11 Jun 2018 03:17 PM EDT
Great points! Thanks.
  • Posted Tue 12 Jun 2018 12:46 PM EDT
This is great!  Thank you for sharing!
  • Posted Fri 29 Jun 2018 03:53 PM EDT
Great information, thank you for sharing!
  • Posted Wed 18 Jul 2018 05:24 PM EDT
Great information!
  • Posted Tue 24 Jul 2018 08:04 AM EDT