Thursday, November 3, 2011

A big success!

Tonight was the culmination of a big project that I set out to do in June. I volunteered to do an organizational audit of a community group whose founder/director had just left after 23 years.

Taller de Acción Comunitaria TAC Cordillera is a very special organization that is doing youth and community development work through non-traditional educational models. This kind of work is rare and the non-profit sector is small and not well supported in Chile as compared to the US and in particular Minnesota. Partly due to this reality and lack of funding options, TAC is 100% volunteer-run and very limited in terms of systems infrastructure.

Anyways, I was excited to contribute in some way as a volunteer and proposed that I do a organizational systems audit.

The result; after approximately 20 interviews and attending a dozen events and meetings, I wrote a 30 page report (in Spanish - which just about killed me and probably took twice the time) with another 30 plus pages in supporting documents/appendixes. I outlined the transition process and provided supporting literature regarding the phenomena of founder departures, reviewed macro organizational challenges and opportunities, and then went through each organizational system (finances, communications, governance, etc), reviewing the challenges, opportunities and providing recommendations to strengthen them.

Tonight, I facilitated a group exercise that had the participants reflect on their transition process and consider what was next and then I presented the report. It went great!!! Now the group is all set to start looking at strategic planning and they want to keep working with me before I return to Minnesota. I felt like I really contributed something of value and gave them a planning document that I think they will be able to use for years to come.

I learned a lot during the course of this project. I learned a lot from the folks running this organization, especially admiration for their commitment to volunteer work. A lot of patience and cross-cultural skills were required. I learned more about being a consultant. Performing the interviews and writing the report were fantastic for my Spanish skills and related to that, I learned that I have a lot of good Chilean friends that were willing to really help me (thanks to my team of editors!!!). Finally, it also confirmed that I really like organizational development work, which has me thinking more about grad programs.

It feels really good to have completed this project! Yeah. Now I can get some sleep!

My best to all of you,


  1. Jo! That's wonderful. I'm so pleased to hear about this amazing work. Great job.