2021 Week 3: Nonprofit Management
Posted: July 7, 2021
RYAN AGHAMOHAMMADI | IMPACT HUB
On a typical day, I walk into the Impact Hub space at about 9:45. I settle down at my regular spot in the entrance, go through my emails, and double check my calendar for the day. Now that I’m deep into my projects for the summer, I have a lot of moving pieces to keep an eye on. Part of the nature of doing a storytelling series is handling a set of interviews, both with staff members at Impact Hub and members of the organization. This means engaging in both research and critical thinking to inform what questions I want to ask in the interview. Most of my day is spent preparing for interviews, conducting them, creating transcriptions, and then drafting stories. I also spend some time informally chatting with members, getting to know the work that they do, and generally plugging into and getting to know social entrepreneurs in the city. Getting to this point has been a process and now that I have a very concrete sense of what the rest of the summer is going to look like, I’ve been focusing on refining my workflow and having conversations about what other initiatives I can engage in. I’ve already been able to sit in on a meeting Impact Hub had with the Baltimore Development Corporation (as well as a few other organizations) which helped expand my sense of how ecosystem projects play out in Baltimore city.
As I move forward into the summer, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to do impactful, authentic work and taking care of ourselves at the same time. It seems to me to be inseparable the capacity to do impactful work while also honoring how our body is feeling, our energy levels, our mood, etc. An ecosystem cannot function if each of its constituent parts aren’t operating in a sustainable manner and so sustainability really is paramount in everything we do. My supervisor recommended I read “Emergent Strategy” by Adrienne Maree Brown. In it, Brown proposes that every interaction and relationship is fractal, beginning with the self and evolving into groups, institutions, and eventually governments. To initiate change, one can start with self and through those movements, eventually make manifest that change further up. Something I want to track as the summer progresses are the changes I initiate in myself — both in terms of work and in terms of care — and what larger effects those changes have over time. I’ve realized in these past few weeks, in part thanks to Impact Hub naturally making me think about ecosystem work and social sustainability, that I want to work and care for myself with intention and direction in order to move towards new conceptions of who I am in work and who I am out of work. Hopefully, this will lead to a new practice of intentionality and vision in my life.
ELEANOR FRANKLIN | STATION NORTH TOOL LIBRARY
The day-to-day at my internship is always very different, particularly depending on who from my work is in-person at the office that day. When I am working with my supervisor, we often interact most of the day and they are constantly checking in with me on the work that I’m doing. With another of my coworkers, she will give me heavier tasks to do and leave me with them for longer periods of time while I work them out. This work is often more computer and data heavy, and relates to administrative and funding tasks. When I am with my third coworker, we often do physical work together, like repairing tools, prepping for classes, and taking care of the woodshop. I enjoy this work the most, as it’s very different from what I’ve done before and I learn something new every time. Another key component of each day at my placement is spending time with the volunteers who come into the shop throughout the day, either to work on their personal projects or to help run the library. Through this, I’ve met lots of interesting and kind people who are excited about the work that the Tool Library is doing. Another surprising and really lovely part of my day-to-day the past few weeks has been seeing an old friend from a previous internship, who has a studio in the building that houses the Tool Library. I ran into him on my first day at the library and have seen him frequently since then. All of these elements together have given me a really valuable sense of the strong level of connectedness and community in maker spaces, Station North generally, and Baltimore as a whole. Baltimore really is a small city, and this work has made much clearer the bonds that we share with one another without even knowing.
CASEY LEVITT | MADE IN BALTIMORE
A typical day of work at Made In Baltimore is a combination of meetings and independent work on the different projects I’ve been assigned. One of the ongoing projects I work on is putting together the newsletters for both member businesses and the general public. The newsletters are a simple but important part of Made In Baltimore’s work. The weekly member newsletter is the primary way that MIB communicates funding opportunities, events, job postings, and other important information to local makers and retailers. By sharing news about individual members, members reading the newsletter can get to know others in the MIB network, and this can lead to B2B connections and business deals among members. The public newsletter is also important in that it helps keep the public engaged in the “buy-local” mindset – it also plays a huge role in marketing MIB events and promoting individual businesses and products. I really enjoy putting together the newsletters! It takes time to make everything look pretty and rephrase news into cheerful blurbs, but I get a lot of satisfaction from it.
The second project I’m working on this summer is all about facilitating more B2B activity and contract manufacturing within the city. This project has 2 parts: a series of production space tours of various apparel manufacturers that have the capacity to take contract work, and a media campaign advertising MIB members that offer custom fabrication in various manufacturing sectors. For both projects, I’ve begun by doing research to identify businesses best suited for each project. It’s been really fun getting to know more of the people and companies making things in Baltimore!
The last project I’m working on is the annual member survey that MIB sends out to get feedback on their programs and track their impact. One main challenge that I’m trying to address is figuring out how to do accurate year-to-year comparisons of the survey results. It’s tricky because only about 70% of MIB members complete the survey, and comparing how different groups of businesses perform over time is unhelpful; we want to compare how the same group of businesses performed from year to year to see if MIB had any impact. I’m now working on an ID system that will allow us to easily identify which businesses filled out the survey over multiple years, so we can draw some meaningful conclusions from the comparison.
ERIC LYNCH | ST. AMBROSE HOUSING AID CENTER
Tags: 2021, Fusion Partnerships, Impact Hub, Made in Baltimore, Nonprofit Management, St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center, Station North Tool Library, Waverly Main Street
A typical day at work for me consists of a variety of things. Getting into the office in the morning, I’ll stop by and say hi to some of my coworkers before settling into my desk. I’ll start by checking for emails (not very exciting) and then get right to work. Most days, I’ll start by catching up on articles, research, and publications that were released the previous day to stay informed about housing issues and policy. Then, I’ll do any combination of writing, editing, planning social media posts, meeting with people, or joining a webinar. There is a good amount of variety in my day, as I work with every department in the organization.
One of the more interesting things I did this week was an on-site visit to the 4 x 4 neighborhood in Belair-Edison. St Ambrose and two partner organizations will be working with the city government to acquire and redevelop a large amount of vacant homes in the neighborhood. One of my coworkers took me there ad showed me many of the vacant houses, some already-redeveloped houses, as well as some of the interesting and unique features of the neighborhood. We talked a lot about the project, how redevelopment creates investment into a community, and how it can even inspire others in the neighborhood to care for their homes. It was incredibly interested and really helped me connect more solidly to the work my organization is doing. While most of the renovations won’t happen until I’m gone, I will be working on a series of blog posts exploring this project in the 4×4 neighborhood.
LUCAS ROZENDAAL | WAVERLY MAIN STREET
A lot of my work can be done virtually, so most of my day is spent at my home, working on my laptop. Waverly Main Street does have an office space in Waverly, but my supervisor is only there about twice a week without a set schedule, which means that it’s rare for people to come by, and there wouldn’t be much difference from being here. That being said, a lot of my energy is concentrated on the Waverly Commons improvement project, which means there’s usually a reason to go over to the Waverly Commons space at least once every couple days. What I’m doing there changes very often–I’ve been there to transport water to the site and take care of the flowers, I’ve been there to meet with a salesperson to talk about shade sail placement and other non-intrusive shading options for events, I’ve been there to take measurements for signs advertising proper usage of the space, and I’ve even been there at 6 am to spread new mulch over the lot. I’ve also been trying to spend some time actually in Waverly, introducing myself to the merchants in the neighborhood and building more concrete relationships. It’s been helpful, but it’s a little frustrating, because I’m very aware that I’m already three weeks into a summer internship that will only be lasting 8 weeks total. It’s the classic problem from orientation about the inherently temporary nature of the work that we do. After my 8 weeks are up, I won’t be working at Waverly Main Street anymore, so there won’t really be a need for the Waverly business community to remember who I am. I hope that I won’t be making things more confusing by giving them another name to associate with us that won’t be relevant in the long-term.