An unusual collaboration between SCORE, the Boys and Girls Club of Charlottesville and Albemarle County began with a chance meeting between Tim Sinatra, Executive Director of the Club and Roger Curran, a Central Virginia SCORE volunteer. During their conversation Sinatra described the desire of the Club to grow to meet the community’s needs, saying: “I feel that the Boys and Girls Club is ready to have an overall analysis of the current nonprofit model from which we operate.” That evening Sinatra and Curran discussed how SCORE’s business experience could help.
Soon after their discussion and with the approval of his Board of Directors, Sinatra submitted a formal request to then Central Virginia Chapter Chair Mike Ludgate to conduct a wide-ranging assessment of the Club’s operations and make specific recommendations. Ludgate and the Chapter Executive Committee considered and approved the request for two reasons. First, a successful SCORE effort would make a significant contribution to the Charlottesville community. Second, the effort would draw on the wide range of experience of chapter members.
With that in mind a team of five SCORE chapter members was formed to work with the Club. Tom Barton, Duane Blough, Roger Curran, Don D’Antuono, and Jim Paul brought the needed range of experience. Over March and April 2005, subgroups of the SCORE team interviewed 12 Club board and staff members as well as community leaders. During visits to the three Club operating facilities the SCORE team met and spoke with many more staff members. As they gathered information the team began to collect their observations and form recommendations through occasional meetings but relied mostly on email exchanges.
Because of the number of Club personnel involved, the team decided to prepare a formal written report. The report turned into a 20-page document presenting SCORE’s observations and recommendations in the areas of governance, strategic decision-making, finances and budgeting, organizational systems, marketing and resource development. The report was delivered in May 2005 along with a briefing to the Club board by the team and current Chair Steve Cooper.
Sinatra was impressed with the SCORE assessment, “To this day the SCORE report is consulted very often when the Club makes major decisions,” he said. “The report provided by SCORE team members was very accurate in the overall analysis of our organization. The recommendations and strategies provided by SCORE have helped move our organization forward. We have used many of the recommendations and have doubled our budget since the report was presented to the entire board.”
This undertaking taught SCORE Central Virginia Chapter members some valuable lessons for the future. First, there are many similarities between the for-profit and nonprofit worlds, but there are important differences. The volunteer nature of the nonprofit demands that buy-in be obtained from the board, management and staff in order to effect change. Buy-in is created by talking to and, more importantly, listening to many people. Second, the SCORE team members rediscovered the camaraderie of working in a team format and look forward to doing it again.