Consultants Network Provides New Resource to Members
The leaders of CHHSM member ministry Consecra know their organization faces a challenge.
Despite a long and proud history as a faith-based social services organization that traces its founding to the late 19th century, too many people today have a fuzzy idea about its focus and mission, says Susan Sinderson, executive vice president of the Oakbrook, Illinois-based organization.
“We spend a lot of time talking about what our name means, rather than what we do,” she says of Consecra, which provides affordable housing to seniors and people with special housing needs.
Enter the CHHSM Consultants Network, a newly launched initiative aimed at providing a variety of professional services to support member ministries with expertise in everything from marketing and management to strategic planning and governance.
As one of the first CHHSM members to tap the network, Consecra now is engaged in a branding makeover as a client of OrgStory, a consulting firm that focuses on the needs of nonprofit organizations. Among the outcomes of the work, Sinderson says, will be to sharpen Consecra’s image with the public – and devise a new, more meaningful name.
The network, still in formative development, expands the breadth and depth of support that CHHSM is able to provide by linking members with professional consultants such as OrgStory, says Michael Readinger, CHHSM president and CEO.
“We have the capacity to do consulting and retreat work with our members, but those are different kinds of engagements – more relationship-based,” Readinger says. “These are more professional relationships with people who bring a different set of skills and expertise.”
The outside consultants have been vetted by CHHSM and offer their services at a reduced rate.
Oak Meadows, a senior living community and CHHSM member ministry in Minnesota, found expert help through the network to help strengthen collaboration with three other boards related to the same church in St. Paul. Because of their shared interests, the four groups wanted to improve their communications and working relationships.
The consultant, Peggy Mullan, a former CHHSM board chair and former president and CEO of CHHSM member Beatitudes Campus, brought a valuable perspective to honor the groups’ history and help plan for the future, says the Rev. Danielle Bartz, CHHSM’s associate for program and leadership development and Oak Meadows’ board member.
“Having an outside person do this work was really helpful,” she says.
Sinderson says OrgStory’s involvement through the Consultants Network couldn’t have come at a better time for Consecra. The organization has moved to a new co-leadership model with enhanced commitments to working within the UCC and sharpening the organization’s message as it approaches its 125th anniversary in four years, she says.
OrgStory was especially well-suited for the task, she explains, since the firm’s president, Jim Schnurbusch, has ties to the United Church of Christ and has participated in the Nollau Institute, CHHSM’s leadership program.
“He gives us the connection we were looking for,” Sinderson says. “Having someone who truly understands faith-based nonprofits is a real find.”
So far, she says, Schnurbusch has been speaking with Consecra employees, meeting with board members and spending time with residents – all to get an in-depth insight about the organization and its work.
“It’s been fun to hear the feedback from employees and residents,” Sinderson says. “I love hearing the passion that people feel for their work and for the organization.”
She feels confident that OrgStory’s approach will yield positive results.
“I’m grateful that the Consultants Network was available for us,” she says.
Members can access the Consultants Network here.
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