CHHSM Members Help Each Other Through Transformation

Since its 1895 founding under the German name Deutscher Evangelichen Waisenhaus und Ulteinheim-Verein von Nord, Consecra Housing Network has seen many identity changes.

Through the Oak Brook, Illinois-based affordable housing organization’s current rebranding process, Executive Vice President Susan Sinderson hopes to find an identity with lasting power.

“What we’re looking for is a name and a brand that’s going to take us through the next 100 years,” she says. The rebrand is part of Consecra’s strategic plan, which also includes leading the organization with a co-executive leadership model.

For Consecra, one key to creating an identity that stays true to its history and mission was tapping into resources through CHHSM.

“Rebranding is a very personal process,” says Sinderson. “You’re really digging into not just your name but what your organization stands for.”

At February’s CHHSM annual meeting, Sinderson found a supportive community to bounce ideas around and learn from others’ rebranding experience.

“It was really helpful for me to talk to other leaders from CHHSM organizations who’ve done it,” says Sinderson.

Through that community, she also found OrgStory, a consulting firm that has worked with other CHHSM members, including Deaconess Faith Community Nurse Ministries and Deaconess Foundation. The firm will guide Consecra through a name, logo and tagline change, website redesign, and marketing to spread the organization’s story far and wide.

In a sea of organizations across the country stripping the faith-based layer from their identities, Sinderson is determined to uphold Consecra’s rich history throughout the process.

“I have been with the organization for over 33 years. Part of what I’m responsible for now is to reach out and find ways to connect our housing communities with our UCC churches. My hope is that no matter who leads the organization in the future, the connection with the UCC and our history will always be a living part of this organization,” she says. “We need to capture that in how we brand.”

In St. Louis, Every Child’s Hope has crossed similar identity-change bridges since it was founded by the Rev. Louis Nollau in 1858.

Every Child’s Hope stepped into its new name in 2009 and, more recently, just wrapped up a website redesign. CEO Michael Brennan says these changes reflect organizational transformation.

For years Every Child’s Hope was residential-based, Brennan says. Now the organization has expanded into the broader community to meet other needs, such as those of homeless youth or preschool-age children who come from low-income families. In particular, the new website helps children and families find vital services.

“It’s retooling what we need to do in terms of outreach to the community. We haven’t changed our mission, but what we’ve done here in the last several years is really focused on community-based services,” he says. “We redesigned to be more responsive to the community.”

Like Sinderson, Brennan finds support in fellow CHHSM members. When Every Child’s Hope began redevelopment plans for its residential communities, Brennan called on UCAN. In December he took his team to Chicago to visit the child and family service organization’s new therapeutic home.

“UCAN was extremely gracious. We learned from what they did — to incorporate what they did and their best practices into our plan,” Brennan says. “We learned a lot about good facility development and making sure it’s a therapeutic environment.”

From business expertise to successful HR processes, it’s this sharing of knowledge that makes a difference for many CHHSM members, no matter the change.

“Even though an agency might not be embarking on a formal rebranding initiative, many agencies are transforming in terms of how they provide services and accomplish their mission by learning new best practices and evidence-based processes,” says Brennan. “The human service sector continues to innovate to help clients and communities attain high quality outcomes and high impact.”

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