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Expert advice for new programs

April 1, 2008
by David Lundeen
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An established provider offers up-and-comers free training on a variety of management topics

In less than four years, Cleveland-based Community Care Network (CCN), a provider of behavioral health services and management solutions in Northeast Ohio, has helped more than 200 leaders or potential leaders of faith- and community-based organizations with its Faith-Based and Community Initiatives Training. The program provides a hands-on, concentrated program to help organizations build their efforts from the ground up through a series of local group and individualized sessions.

“Faith-Based and Community Initiatives Training gives us a way to reach out to leaders in our community and to help their visions become a reality,” said George Pelletier, coordinator of the program. “Our program extends expert advice and assistance to those organizations that otherwise may have none.”

The Beginnings

CCN began meeting with the director of the Ohio governor's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives about starting a local training program in 2004. The office was scouting the state for organizations with a successful history of supporting small nonprofits to serve as regional intermediaries. After finding CCN, the office secured a federal Compassion Capital grant for the faith-based initiative.

CCN had experience with faith-based services through several programs, including the Case Rate Pilot Project, a neighborhood-based initiative in which Cleveland Christian Home, a founding member and partner under CCN's administrative umbrella, had been the lead agency. The program allowed the Cuyahoga County (Ohio) Department of Children and Family Services to outsource its child custody function to private providers for more efficient operation. Through this initiative, Cleveland Christian Home successfully increased the reunification rate of children removed from their families from 44 to 87% between 2001 and 2005.

The goal of CCN's program is to provide direct technical assistance, training, and mentoring to organizations to help them develop the capacity to receive funds and provide better services to at-risk populations. Small organizations learn to improve their ability to compete for grants and manage funds.

Unlike most capacity-building providers, CCN offers its training free of charge, thanks to a generous grant from the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. In fact, because of the program's success, state and federal leaders recently extended the grant for an additional two years.


“Our program extends expert advice and assistance to those organizations that otherwise may have none.” —George Pelletier


The Curriculum

CCN offers training in the capacity-related areas described below. Each training component is six-hours long (one training day).

“Establishing Your Organization” takes participants through 12 essential steps to consider in establishing a new organization. Participants learn to focus their mission, the process of achieving 501(c)3 status, and the keys to success.

“Building Collaborations” introduces organizations to the concept and benefits of nonprofit collaboration to improve and sustain existing services. Participants learn how to create, manage, and sustain collaboration, and they learn techniques and receive sample templates for drafting a memorandum of understanding.

“Technology in a Non-Profit” teaches participants to plan for technology, including what to consider in purchasing equipment and how to use cost-cutting resources.

“Internal Fiscal Controls” educates participants on the significance of internal controls and ways that they can ensure financial stability.

“Strategic Planning” provides assistance with when and how to develop a strategic plan. Participants explore the ten-step strategic-planning process and learn how to apply this process to their organizations.

“Fiscal Management” helps participants learn the basics of financial management and how to keep clear and accurate records while growing their faith-based or community organization. Key learning points include building financial management systems, cash-flow case studies, and financial responsibility and accountability.

“Board Development” provides a background on the roles of board members and officers on a nonprofit board, the board's legal responsibilities, and the stages of board development, as well as how that applies to each participant's organization.

“Outcome Management” offers advice for organizing, analyzing, and accessing both customer and agency data to effectively report individual outcomes.

“Human Resources & Volunteer Management” provides participants the opportunity to learn the basics of human resource management for nonprofits. The topics addressed in this session are basic employment law, how to recruit and retain employees, and general guidelines for keeping your best volunteers.

“Fund Development” teaches effective fund-raising techniques and how to be a successful proposal writer—two critical skills for any nonprofit administrator.

“Grant Writing” is a follow-up to the general Fund Development session, providing participants with the basic tools for proposal development. Topics covered include researching and evaluating prospects, compiling important organizational documents, budgeting, and writing critical proposal components.

In addition, CCN is developing specialty courses that will allow organizations to more effectively compete for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) dollars—$1.5 billion of which go unused in Ohio each year.