In a day’s work, there is nothing better than traveling around this beautiful state (yes, even in the dead of a semi-winter) and meeting with funders and nonprofits in every nook and cranny of it. The many conversations we’ve had just in the last week have both supported the direction we are going, as well as informed it. The funders are echoing concerns that nonprofits have as well – How are we going to make an impact and really solve the social conditions we were designed to solve?
For ANA, this conversation is especially relevant as we are revising the Arkansas Diamond Standards of Best Practices in Nonprofit Management, affectionately known as the Diamond Standards. These standards have long been used by Arkansas nonprofits to raise the level of their game. It has become apparent, though, that a revision is needed to incorporate the many changes in law and practice that have evolved over the years. We believe the standards need to be incorporated throughout the nonprofit community, and that we need to partner with existing trainers, consultants, nonprofit peers and professional advisors to provide the expertise and support to help nonprofits meet the standards. We also feel strongly that training must be developed with the standards in mind and be provided at an affordable cost, in accessible formats and venues that result in real change that leads to increased measurable impact in our communities for the people who most need it.
Of course, there are barriers and challenges to an effort of this size. After all, we are asking the ENTIRE network of Arkansas nonprofits (and those that love them) to intentionally assess their current capacity against industry standards, be proactive in gaining the knowledge and capacity needed, integrate the changes throughout the entire organization and finally measure their impact in the community. We are asking that nonprofits connect more strongly with each other. ANA and our funders will work together to create conditions that are most favorable to nonprofits in Arkansas – that is strengthen our network to have more impact in areas like resource development, advocacy, rules and regulations. And, finally, to make sure we are not duplicating services and efforts – to collaborate on solving our hardest social issues – to really move the needle toward a better life for all Arkansans. We hope over the next year your nonprofit will #GrowWithANA.