Happy New Year! I hope that 2022 is treating you well so far. Below, please find the topline results from the 2021 annual Project Impact and Customer Satisfaction Survey. We thank those of  you for participating. Let us know if you have any questions or would like to discuss the survey results in more detail.

In 2021, Community Initiatives re-engaged our long-term partner Research Evaluation Consulting (REC) for our annual Project Impact and Customer Satisfaction Survey. Thanks to the participation of 93% of our Project Partners, we were able to take a truly meaningful look at our Projects’ activities and experiences.

Who Are We?

Projects selected primary and secondary foci for their mission. Education, health, environmental issues, and capacity building were the top priority categories in our network. Our Projects contribute to the following sectors:

  • Philanthropy
  • Social Justice
  • Youth Development
  • Journalism and Media
  • Animal Welfare
  • Human Services
  • Arts and Culture
  • Networking and Alliances

Most Community Initiatives Projects have between one and eight employees, and vary in budget size.

Snapshot of Our Community 202124% of projects have budgets up to $99,999

33% of projects have budgets between $100,000 — $499,999

22% of projects have budgets of $500,000 — $1M+

How Do We Measure Impact?

Measuring impact is critical to any Project’s ability to demonstrate their value and ultimately raise funds for future work. Metrics may be self-selected or dictated by the terms of a grant agreement. A total of 79 Projects (100%) identified at least one metric that they tracked. They are listed below in order of emphasis.

Red Heart Painted on Hands

  1. Populations Served
  2. Project Impact
  3. Services Offered
  4. Financial Stability and Funding
  5. Participant Feedback
  6. Public Awareness
  7. Staff Feedback and Satisfaction
  8. Degree of Engagement
  9. Collaborations and Partnerships

We’re proud to report that Community Initiatives Fiscally Sponsored Projects served a total of 654,653 people in 2021.

What Went Right?

Projects celebrated many successes in the past year, most often cited in the selected key categories below.

Organizational Improvements
This year, 60% of the projects identified organizational improvements as their number one category of success. This theme included efforts such as hiring and training staff, setting strategy, building capacity, and modifying performance indicators.
Community Engagement and Outreach
A plurality of Projects (44%) described stories of engagement, outreach, and provision of services for their primary constituencies. These responses highlighted ongoing, expanded, or new programming, serving specific groups in their geographic or professional areas, and sharing knowledge with others in their communities.
Responses to COVID-19 Pandemic
19.2% of Projects noted successes related to their ability to respond to the COVID- 19 pandemic. These respondents often spoke of transitioning to virtual services or programming, addressing new community needs, or otherwise pivoting their services and/or work strategies.

Additionally, several Projects described important advances in the following areas:

  • Providing services, resources, events, and advocacy
  • Supporting positive outcomes in the communities they serve
  • Meeting unique challenges, like those of the pandemic
  • Executing collaborations and partnerships

Finally, Projects felt Community Initiatives had positively impacted their work. The most-commonly referenced examples mentioned:

  • Project Infrastructure and Operational Support (60%)
  • Mission-Focused Support (29%)
  • Positive Staff Interactions (17%)

SHARED CHALLENGES AND THE IMPACT OF COVID-19

Many challenges may feel unique to your organization, but your peers are often struggling with similar hurdles – even if they work in a different focus area. This year’s most common challenges are listed below.

COVID-19 (29.4%)
Most often, difficulties surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic included shifting to online program delivery, safety, and funding challenges. Specific to dealing with the pandemic, projects listed Financial Stress, Cancellation or Restriction of Programs, Pivoted Strategy, Overwhelmed Capacity or Additional Service Needs, and Emotional Toll as critical pain points.

Fundraising and Finance (27.9%)
These challenges were primarily associated with fundraising, project budgets, and maintaining financial capacity, and many were exacerbated by the pandemic. When asked about future services needed from Community Initiatives, fundraising assistance was requested by 27.9% of Projects.

Turnover (17.6%)
Staffing issues included challenges with internal turnover, hiring new staff, and board recruitment.

Projects also ranked the most valuable services they received from Community Initiative. Below are the results.

  • Financial Services – 39.7%
  • Payroll and other administrative support – 25%
  • PPP Assistance – 25%
  • Human Resources Support – 22%
  • Legal Services and Contract Review – 19.1%
  • Grant Support – 7.4%

In Your Own Words

“I feel proud to be associated with an organization like Community Initiatives that operates with excellence and values out front. Thank you to the entire leadership and staff team and to the Board of Directors for all you’ve done during this challenging time to be of service to our project.”
• People Power

“Community Initiatives has made a positive difference in our work by providing us with essential, backend services that are of high quality and contribute to the confidence that funders and supporters have for Latino Outdoors.”
• Latino Outdoors

“The PPP loan! It saved our organization! Visionary thinking on the part of Community Initiatives!”
• Genesis Healing Institute

“Community Initiatives is a great partner.”
• Global Network of Black People Working in HIV

“Community Initiatives has allowed me to spend less time on operational needs and systems. I have appreciated the support for our program.”
• Just Solutions Collective

“We continue to be grateful for the ability to outsource administrative functions so we can focus on the mission work, which increases our job satisfaction, energy and enthusiasm, and ability to be efficient.”
• The Fund for People in Parks

“Over the years Community Initiatives has been great. Any organization looking for fiscal support would not be disappointed.”
• San Francisco Expanded Learning Collaborative

“I do recommend Community Initiatives to folks. The ease of managing public contracts is a big plus.”
• Breaking Barriers

People in front of red sunset

Meeting the Need in 2022

We are happy to report that, Projects gave Community Initiatives solid satisfaction ratings. Overall, Community Initiatives received 3.26 out of 4. Similarly, about 92% of Projects said they would be somewhat likely to recommend Community Initiatives to others.

65% of Projects responded that they were satisfied or somewhat satisfied with Community Initiatives in Fiscal Year 2021. Project Infrastructure and Operational Support was the top reason Community Initiatives made a positive difference in their projects’ work. Projects also stated that positive staff interactions was one of the primary reasons Community Initiatives made a positive difference. (We noted that some Projects discussed dissatisfaction with Community Initiatives’ staff, and we plan to address those complaints directly.)

Community Initiatives is now focused on how we can improve service delivery in 2022. Based on the data received, we will work to:

  • Increase Project-related communications
  • COVID-19 challenges continue to support projects as they address unique challenges due to COVID-19
  • Funding opportunities and support
  • Develop an internal system for tracking all your requests
  • Focus on systems improvement that create efficiencies for project leaders
  • Utilize data to drive additional improvements in tools, processes, and policies

Each of our Projects relies on fiscal sponsorship to make their work possible. But that decision has an impact beyond the administration of your organization’s efforts alone. By joining the Community Initiatives’ network, you are making the work of other incredible groups possible, too. Again, we appreciated your candid responses to the survey, and we thank you for all the work you do to enrich our communities.

We are part way through our year-long twenty-fifth anniversary celebration. Stay tuned for additional anniversary-related assets we will be releasing over the next few months. Our anniversary themed Fiscal Year 2021 annual report will be available in early February, and soon we will be inviting you to participate in a virtual video tribute to help us celebrate our anniversary. We will send more information about the video soon.

Ruth Williams

 

Sincerely,

Ruth Williams
President & CEO