Impact at Work Project Spotlight: Boys and Girls Club of Greater Scottsdale
In light of National Volunteer Week, we’re highlighting a project with a talented team from Charles Schwab and its nonprofit partner, Boys and Girls Club of Greater Scottsdale (BGCS), whose mission is to provide youth development services that instill strong core values and life enhancing skills in a safe environment. The Schwab volunteers worked with BGCS to identify their top strategic goals and to map out a high-level strategic plan.
Sam Fowler, BGCS Chief Development Officer, and Charles Schwab Pro Bono Challenge Participant, shares his take on this inspiring project and how it has informed his non-profit’s organizational direction.
1. Why does this project matter?
I came to BGCS in October 2015, a month before the Pro Bono Challenge. At the time, the organization was undergoing a massive transition. Most of our senior leadership positions were unfilled. This was a difficult time to come onboard since we needed to build new relationships while assuring existing employees that we were working on a new vision for our future.
This transition was not easy for BCGS, who had been historically viewed as one of the premier nonprofits in the area. We were lucky enough to be selected for the 2015 Pro Bono Challenge to work with Schwab volunteers to define a new strategic vision and structure and find common ground for the leadership team. There are inherent trust issues that arise with all stakeholders when an organization faces a challenge like this. We needed to be very honest with this group of people we’d never met. The team created that safe space and enabled us to be open about our challenges.
2. How has the project informed your organizational direction over the past year?
The Schwab team’s guidance led to the creation of a strategic planning retreat with our leadership and board in January 2016. During the retreat, we were able to identify the 5 core principles of our organization and map out our strategy. We realized that the kids had to be the center of everything we did.
We created a program called NEXT, which consists of four outcome initiatives we do with our kids in every site: we create globally competitive graduates, 21st century leaders, innovative dream-makers and healthy game-changers. All of these initiatives align back to the strategic vision that the Schwab volunteers outlined for us.
Fast forward a year, and the strategic direction from the team has turned into an organization-wide transformation. I often reflect on how much we’ve pulled off in the last year. It wouldn’t have been possible without the Schwab team.
3. How has your organization continued to stay involved and build relationships with your Pro Bono Challenge volunteer team?
We have stayed in contact with our Schwab volunteers and are grateful to have one serving on our Board of Governors. Recently, we called the entire volunteer team back for a reception to thank them and celebrate our success. We shared how far we’ve come and the depth of their impact. This was an incredible opportunity for the volunteers to see how transformative their guidance had been and, specifically, that their advice on our board structure has created a pipeline of new energy for us.
4. What was your favorite moment over the course of the project?
At the reception, one volunteer teared up after hearing our story. She never realized the depth of impact that she could have in just one day. She felt validated that her time, skills and dedication made such a difference, especially for our 60-year old organization!
Our volunteers don’t get to see the impact of our programs on a daily basis like we do, and we were thrilled to be able to paint a picture for them.
My “aha’ moment was during the leadership retreat. This is where we unveiled the work the Schwab team had done. It clicked for us. We were finally able to identify what differentiated us. The very first thing the Schwab team did during the Challenge was flip our organizational chart around and put the kids at the top of the pyramid. This visual helped bring everyone back to the understanding that this is all about the kids. They are our #1.