Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Strapped Causes Get a Hand from Retired Execs Executive Service Corps Helps Nonprofits Strengthen Management and Fund-Raising

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Strapped Causes Get a Hand from Retired Execs Executive Service Corps Helps Nonprofits Strengthen Management and Fund-Raising

Article excerpt

In its 68 years of offering free legal services to the poor, the nonprofit Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA) has faced many foes. But its latest challenge is particularly daunting. Even as it faces losing three-quarters of its budget, record numbers of clients are flooding in.

But LAFLA is not easily slowed down. Like many other highminded but low-funded nonprofits - often with little fund-raising experience - it is turning to Executive Service Corps (ESC), a self-styled emergency service for newly needy nonprofits.

This volunteer consortium of 175 top retired executives represents a veritable Yellow Pages of southern California businesses. For a modest fee to the nonprofit ESC, former bigwigs from some of the top companies in town donate tough business plans and hands-on direction. The goal is to realize a leaner, more efficient operation - a profile that in turn makes the nonprofits more attractive to potential donors. "We want to bring a business management perspective to help them do their work better, but also to make them appear worthy of further help," says Megan Cooper, ESC's executive director. The national ESC is an offshoot of International ESC, founded 30 years ago in New York by David Rockefeller and Frank Pace. For 15 years, the Los Angeles chapter of ESC (one of 47 nationwide) has helped more than 500 nonprofit agencies, ranging from the American Red Cross to the Vietnamese Community of Orange County. Many nonprofits, like LAFLA, are facing cutbacks as a result of the Welfare Reform Act of 1996. A recent survey by Independent Sector found that during the fiscal years 1996-2002, nonprofits will face a $254 billion cumulative gap in funding. ESC offers management consulting, brainstorming sessions, a board development program as well as a talent pool for board candidates. For agencies with budgets of $1 million or more, ESC offers a year-long retainer partnership program through which consulting services in all managerial areas are available. Start with brainstorming Marianne Haver Hill is executive director of Meet Each Need With Dignity (MEND), the most comprehensive poverty center in the San Fernando Valley. In January 1994, she invited ESC in for a brainstorming session. Five consultants spent an afternoon discussing ideas and investigating the agency's operations. They interviewed board members, staff, and clients. "It was very productive and we got some useful tips just from that single meeting." But, she says, one member of the team perceived a need and went even further. Although he was impressed with the efficiency of MEND's operation (93 percent of the $3 million budget is spent directly on client services), Bob Rains, former executive vice-president of public relations at Universal Studios, felt the agency needed a better public profile in its own community. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.