Pilot Program Applies Innovation Research, Shows Positive Results for Nonprofits

Based upon the success of a 2013 Pilot Program, MAP is offering Innovation Cohorts to nonprofit organizations as part of 2014 technology services.

The Pilot Program ensued from research published by MAP and Idealware in 2012, Unleashing Innovation: Using Everyday Technology to Improve Nonprofit Services. Following publication of the research, MAP set out to help more nonprofit organizations pursue innovation and improve the quality of their services through technology. In 2013, using a Framework for Innovation identified in the research report, and with the help of an Advisory iTeam, MAP designed a process and piloted it with three cohort groups, totaling 10 nonprofit organizations.

Outcomes for Pilot Participants

Through the process, Pilot Program participants adopted action plans that are being implemented and have the potential to improve back office efficiency, boost staff productivity and morale, provide access to information that leads to better decision making and increase the quality of interactions with organization participants, clients, members and the public.

Every organization but one emerged from the pilot process with an action plan that addressed a strategic and prioritized organizational need, according to Karen Graham, director of Technology and Innovation at MAP. A full report on the Pilot Program, Unleashing Innovation: Lessons and Stories from a Pilot Program, is available on MAP’s website.

The Process Design

Graham, supported by the Advisory iTeam, designed the pilot program process to include interaction between organizations, a mechanism to gain broad input and buy-in, and an emphasis on understanding organization needs before jumping to technical solutions.

What We Learned:

  • Cross-Pollination Works. Participants cited interaction with peers from outside their organization as the most valuable aspect of the program.
  • Communication Created Momentum. Communication within participating organizations was an important success factor. Momentum for change appeared strongest when the participating executive director/CEO shared their survey results and action plans with his or her organization.
  • Retreat from Everyday Matters. Participants found that the retreat nature of the group session included in the process helped them to think more strategically and creatively.
  • Facilitation and Process Contributes to Success. Participants valued the facilitated process and the oneon-one follow up consultations in the process.

2014 Innovation Cohorts

With the completion of the Pilot Program, MAP is making minor adjustments to the process based on lessons learned, and offering Innovation Cohorts to organizations. Three to four cohorts are planned for 2014. Participation fees will be $900-$1200 per organization, based upon the size of the participating organization.

For more information, visit Innovation Cohorts or contact Karen Graham, 651-632-7231.

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