The Shift to Becoming a Participant-Centered Organization is a capacity-building program of The Denver Foundation with two goals: to help nonprofit organizations “make the shift” from treating constituents (or participants) simply as clients to treating them as contributors and potential leaders able to help shape the organization and contribute to its mission; and to expand and strengthen the pool of consultants skilled at coaching organizations to make this shift. It is rooted in The Denver Foundation’s core value of resident and constituent engagement: the belief that the people most affected by social problems should be involved in responding to those problems summarized as “nothing about us without us.”
Specific elements of The Shift’s 1-year cohort:
To be eligible, organizations had to be Denver Foundation grantees and then submitted an application form stating why they wanted to be in The Shift.
Organizations chosen will receive approximately 44 hours of individualized coaching time from one (or in most cases, two) of the Shift coaches and a $1,000 grant to help defray costs of Shift activities. Their coach is expected to meet with their board and staff to introduce the concept of The Shift and build buy-in at all levels.
Quarterly cohort sessions bring together teams from all coachee organizations for joint learning and peer support led by the coaching team.
Each organization is expected to (1) conduct an initial self-assessment (with their coach) of their participant-centered practices, to serve as a road map for change and a baseline for gauging progress; (2) initiate some participant listening to discover gifts, talents, and opportunities for greater engagement as contributors and leaders; (3) initiate some participant-led programming in at least one area; and (4) conduct another self-assessment at year’s end to identify progress, lessons, and opportunities for further growth toward becoming participant-centered.
Coaches are current or former executive directors of organizations with strong participant engagement practices who are learning to coach others. They received developmental support through quarterly coaches sessions plus mentoring oversight by senior coach Mike Green.
Congratulations to the six organizations chosen to be part of the 2019 Shift cohort:
Unison Housing Partners
The Delores Project
The Reciprocity Collective
Village Exchange Center
The Episcopal Church in Colorado
Colorado Change Agents at Aurora Central High School