Even though we have been serving our community in a virtual capacity since March of last year, the closing of our physical office at the UFCU building this week marks an important milestone in Mission Capital’s story. As we end one chapter and embark on another, we are excited to announce the first in a series of shifts and changes that we will roll out over the next few months.
In 2019, we ratified a new strategic mission to equip and connect mission driven leaders focused on advancing equity and opportunity so that all can thrive. Operationalizing this new mission has led us to adopt a number of new practices, including seeking intentional input from those we serve, and those we don’t serve or don’t serve well.
We listen to help us design our programming, identify places where we should step up and places where we should step back. We have been iterating on our programming, redesigning some elements (such as our new membership packages, including a pay what you can option), launching new services, and bringing back previous services.
We have made these changes as we center our mission and leverage insights through data and listening to our clients and stakeholders. We have also made changes across our evaluation and data collection strategies at Mission Capital more broadly, so that we can start to disaggregate our data and better understand differences in experience and support all our community.
While we are continuing to offer many of the programs you and your teams have known for years, we are undergoing significant change efforts to improve those programs using customer feedback and evaluation strategies. For instance, we are using an equity diagnostic tool from ProInspire to assess our general audience trainings and consulting offerings. One example is adapting our Executive Transition Management offerings to embed discussions about implicit bias in the hiring process with nonprofit boards, staff and their search committees.
We have also rolled out new offerings informed by research, data, and customer feedback. For example, we have been building out numerous race equity explicit offerings, including our 6-week Implicit Bias Learning Circles, Austin’s Compounding Structural Racism, Implicit Bias and Hiring, and Privilege, Power, and Shared Leadership.
Additionally, in response to findings from the 2020 Race to Lead Central Texas (R2L) research project – conducted by the Building Movement Project and commissioned by Mission Capital and other partners – we have also been building numerous programs specifically designed for Black and Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) leaders in our sector. The research project was focused on closing the racial leadership gap in the nonprofit sector. The study explored why there are so few leaders of color in the nonprofit sector and the challenges BIPOC face as they reach for and attain senior leadership roles.
In response, Mission Capital began to work toward creating intentional support for BIPOC leaders & staff. In 2021 we offered a specific Member Meet Up on Story Telling for BIPOC folks, and this spring and summer we will be launching a BIPOC Mentoring Program, as well as WeThrive, which is a space for nonprofit leaders of color to grow, collaborate, and change the world together.
We strengthened our focus on collaborative work, leveraging our data insights and leaning into our connector and amplifier roles, especially in the space of digital equity and mental health needs in the nonprofit sector. In 2020, Mission Capital collaborated with multiple community partners to assess and begin to respond to COVID-19-related needs in the nonprofit sector. We used the data and insights from the COVID-19 Nonprofit Pulse surveys, to help us identify areas to support the sector, and lean into our ecosystem connector and amplifier role. Using these insights, we expanded our Membership model and built new relationships and partnerships to deliver convenings and member events that addressed the needs voiced in the survey.
We’ve re-centered community voice in our collective impact work as well. We are building out our Good Measure and Child Welfare work centering the voices of who the programs are designed to ultimately serve. We have expanded our customer feedback loops within Good Measure programs so that participants help drive the program sequencing and agenda. We have retooled our program evaluations for our Child Welfare trainings to ensure we are hearing from more participants and engaging community voice.
In the coming year, you will not only see us expanding our efforts to listen through more program evaluation and feedback loop practices, but you will also see us expand our efforts to change how we build our programming. This won’t be a change that will be finished in just a year. We are changing how we move together and with those we serve. This means that we will be iterating more and more with participatory and co-design practices in our work.
We want to work with you to build services that serve you and your colleagues. We will be rolling out a number of new ways to seek your feedback and will work with you to build out our services. In the coming weeks and months, you will be hearing more about two specific initiatives with a goal of using more participatory design or input:
We have two key initiatives focused on potential new services for organizations to build or strengthen their culture of belonging, and for leaders seeking to build more awareness around their own opportunities for growth in supporting equity. In the next few weeks, you will see invitations to participate in this initiative, if you would like to provide your voice. We will have multiple means of providing input, from focus groups and in-depth interviews to surveys. In the fall, we will create additional ways for engagement and co-design.
There are many factors that can influence our ability to recognize our own challenges or growth edges in our leadership practice. Whether we are early stage or seasoned leaders, we can all benefit from increased self-awareness and reflection to help us become better leaders. At Mission Capital, over the next several months, we will be working to better understand how bias and racial identity awareness specifically play into leadership awareness growth opportunities. We will be exploring these complex nuances together as we build resources for our nonprofit sector.
Our Mission Capital Membership drive is just around the corner. Mission Capital Membership gives your organization discounted access to our trainings, and our connector events like Member Meetups, as well as access to many of our unique online resources, like our jobs board and the upcoming HR Toolkit. In the coming member year, we are going to be hosting multiple Learning Labs with members who want to dig deeper into our services. We will not only be going through the Learning Lab together, but we will also be offering follow-up advisory support to organizations who participate in the lab and want to implement similar programs in their organization to learn from those they serve. If you are interested in the Learning Labs, we’ll be announcing more information when we launch the membership drive in June. In the meantime, you can contact our Membership Manager, Chelsea Hartness, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have been shepherding significant organizational change these past few years and are grateful to our funders who have modeled trust-based philanthropy by investing in our operational infrastructure to lean into this evolution, especially in this particularly trying year of COVID-19 response and recovery.
We are also grateful to all of you for your feedback, encouragement, and critical reflections. 2021 marks Mission Capital’s 20th anniversary, and we are excited to start this new chapter of our journey, engaging with all of you this coming year as we expand, evaluate, and iterate.