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Strategic Guidance. Stronger Nonprofits.
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2012 Micro Projects
Client Application Now OPEN
Prospective Client Info Session
Client Service Lines
Why Volunteers Volunteer
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Vol. 9, No. 1
April 2012



My best friend from high school called me last fall and told me that she had bought a horse. A horse?! Where did this come from? "Don't you remember," she said. "I used to ride all the time in middle school. I loved it, but got too busy to keep it up." I was slightly dumfounded, but also a little envious that she was so excited about taking up this old activity. And then I found my "horse." A friend told me about a new exercise studio that combines yoga, pilates and ballet. I danced in high school, but then I grew up and got busy. A job, marriage, kids. Life got complicated and the years passed. There was no time for dancing. I kept thinking I'd get back to it, but then I realized one day that I didn't have the time or the ability that I used to have. But now it's coming back to me. It's a wonderful feeling to reconnect with those early days and to remember where I started.


I often see Compass volunteers taking our nonprofit clients back to their beginnings. Nonprofits start with a dream that meets a need. Nascent organizations focus a lot on programs and the people they serve. As the organization grows, the demands increase, change, and get more complicated - especially for nonprofit leaders. Managing people, motivating boards, raising money, strategies, evaluations, planning, impact, events, reports - these things take over when you aren't looking. One day an Executive Director realizes that he or she has gotten far away from the things that brought them into the organization in the first place - the children, the women, the families, the homeless and yes, even the dancers.


An organization can lose its foothold over time. Sometimes the situation that created the need for the organization might change. At that point, the organization has to ask the very difficult question of whether it is still relevant. Other times, external factors change and the organization has to ask if it can sustain itself given the weak economy or the loss of a major funder, for example. And sometimes two organizations can work better together than separately. If values are close and programs are complimentary, the combined organization can be stronger and more effective.


Compass volunteers bring an outside perspective that helps nonprofit leaders engage in these tough conversations. We provide research and data. We talk to board members, staff, and funders. We can often point out things that an organization's leaders know, but can't articulate. And one of the best parts of a Compass project is that Compass volunteers give nonprofits leaders the gift of time. We do a lot of listening. We help our clients stop in the middle of their busy schedules to answer hard questions like "What are you really trying to accomplish?" and "What motivated you to be part of this organization?" and "Why was this organization created, does that need still exist, and if so, are you still meeting it?"


If the answer isn't what our clients want it to be, then Compass volunteers can help them get back on track, coming up with plans for rearranging, recommitting, and reconnecting.


Today, we opened our client application for the 2012-13 project year. For nonprofit leaders, now is a good time to think about whether you have taken time lately to ask hard questions about your organization - questions like where did you start and where do you want to be. If you'd like a time and place to do that, a Compass team can help you.


Sometimes you have to get back on the horse or start dancing again to remember where you were before you got where you are.







We're thrilled to announce our 2012 Micro Project clients and the talented professionals leading these pro bono consulting teams.



Project Leader

C&O Canal Trust

Karen Mazze

Damien Ministries

Mehreen Hossain

DC Employment Justice Center

Dawn McAvoy

Lumina Studio Theatre

Tracey Moon

Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship

Darryl Dove

Parent Encouragement Program

Charlotte Haberaecker

The Reading Connection

Armando Munoz

Rebuilding Together Montgomery County

Gary Friend

Senior Services of Alexandria

Sujoy Roy

Special Love

John Miller

Stepping Stones Shelter

Sophia Peters

Stone Soup Films

Russell Davis



Compass' client application for 2012-13 is now available. The deadline for applications is June 15, 2012. Projects begin in September. Compass clients must meet the following criteria: 

  • Have 501(c)3 status
  • Have a minimum of three paid staff members and a minimum budget of $750,000
  • Provide services that benefit the Greater Washington community
  • Not promote a specific religion, or religious or political beliefs
  • Have an active board of directors

Compass offers projects in the following areas: Board Development, Funding Strategies, Strategic Alignment, Strategic Planning, and Strategic Partnerships (see details below).


The Compass application is available on our website here:


If you have any questions about what kind of project would be most useful for your organization or about the application process, please contact Suzanne Laporte at or (202) 459-6291, or plan to attend the Client Information Session on May 2 (see details below).



Please join Compass on Wednesday, May 2 to hear about Compass' 2012-2013 Client Application Process. At this Information Session for prospective clients, you'll find out

  • How the Compass program works
  • What kind of project would be best for your organization
  • How to apply for a Compass project and get selected


Wednesday, May 2, 9:00 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.

The Washington Club * 15 Dupont Circle * Washington, DC  


Please RSVP by April 27 to Georgia Katinas at



Compass will offer the following consulting services in 2012-13:


Board Development - Board Development projects aim to improve the effectiveness, engagement, and sustainability of nonprofit boards. Through a rigorous self-assessment process, the Compass team helps the board build a solid foundation of governance, recruitment, training, committee structure, and meeting and committee practices.


Funding Strategies - Traditional funding strategy projects assess current revenue sources and revenue-generation methods, followed by reviewing alternative revenue sources. For Earned Income projects, the Compass team will analyze options and provide recommendations based on alignment with mission, strategy, needs, and resources.


Strategic Alignment - Compass helps clients examine their mission, vision, beneficiaries, desired changes, strategic objectives and supporting activities to understand how to achieve the greatest impact. Strategic alignment projects also look, at a high level, for alignment between the allocation of mission, programs, financial/staff resources and strategic priorities.


Strategic Planning (2-year projects) - This service line helps organizations create a strategic plan and ensures that board and staff leadership are aligned around key choices. Typically, the first year will be spent 1) talking to key stakeholders, and 2) conducting research. The second year will be spent helping the board make important choices, prioritize goals, and understand the implications of those choices. These projects are most effective for organizations with budgets above $2 million.


Strategic Partnerships and Mergers - In this weak economy, many nonprofits are concerned about reduced funding and the resulting impact on their organization. Compass will assist clients in assessing the value and appropriateness of strategic mergers, partnerships, or other shared operating arrangements.


Compass has created a space where our clients, volunteers, friends and others interested in skilled volunteering can interact. On our blog, you will be able to read stories from our current volunteers and clients, as well as messages from the Compass Board and staff members. We encourage you to join the discussion by posting a comment or submitting a blog post!


Michael Humenansky, a current Deputy Project Leader and three-time volunteer, wrote about why he volunteers with Compass, saying, "Essentially, Compass is maximizing my most valuable resource: time." Read more here: Why I Volunteer - Michael Humenansky


If you are interested in posting to the blog, please email Compass' Assistant Program Manager, Georgia Katinas, at



Donations from individuals, companies, and foundations make it possible for Compass to bring 250 business professionals into the nonprofit sector each year. You can donate to Compass to support and expand our impact by clicking the Donate Now button below, or going to our website at



Please join one or all of these online communities and share your reflections and experiences.


FACEBOOK. Compass is on Facebook! Please "like" us and watch for fun announcements, pictures and videos on our page. Compass Facebook Page


TWITTER. Compass is also a Tweeter! Follow us on Twitter, where we send messages about our clients and their programs, trends in the nonprofit sector and other relevant news. Follow us @Compassprobono.


LINKEDIN. Please join Compass' group page on LinkedIn called "Compass Volunteer Network." This is a great way to stay connected to Compass' many volunteers.


Compass also has a company page on LinkedIn called "Compass DC." If you are involved with Compass, feel free to add "Consultant Volunteer for the __________ Project at Compass DC" or "Nonprofit Client at Compass DC" to your LinkedIn profile!


BLOG. Through Compass' blog our online community tells Compass' story from a variety of different perspectives, sharing insights, videos and photos.



We are grateful to the following companies and firms that supported our 10th Anniversary Celebration and Benefit.


Platinum Sponsor

Booz Allen Hamilton


Gold Sponsor
Capital One  


Silver Sponsor  

Arnold & Porter


Bronze Sponsor 

Gelman Rosenberg & Freedman


Corporate Contributors

Howard University

Cassidy Turley

Avalere Health

Raymond James



We couldn't put together out talented consulting teams without skilled volunteers. We couldn't recruit the amazing volunteers without the support of the local business schools clubs.  


The following local business school clubs helped announce this year's volunteer opportunities. We are grateful for their continued support.    


Columbia Graduate School of Business
Cornell University

The University of Chicago Booth School of Business

Fuqua School of Business at Duke University
Harvard Business School  

Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management
Stanford Graduate School of Business
Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth

University of Virginia Darden School of Business
The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania
Yale School of Management 




ProInspire's flagship program, the ProInspire Fellowship, recruits outstanding business professionals with 2-5 years of business experience who want to use their skills for social impact and invest in a growing community of Fellows.  Fellows spend one year working in an analytical or strategic role at a nonprofit organization. This highly competitive program offers targeted positions with leading nonprofits, monthly trainings with a cohort of peers, a coach, and a network to support career growth. Fellows work with top nonprofits based in the Washington D.C. area. For more information, visit the ProInspire website at      



Today, nonprofit leaders are more stressed than ever. Higher expectations and fewer resources make the job of delivering results and maintaining balance personally and professionally overwhelming and challenging. The Leadership Sanctuary helps break that cycle of overwhelm. It gives participants a place to find balance and focus. In small groups or cohorts of peers, leaders join together over the course of a year under the guidance of certified facilitators and coaches. During the program, participants learn rigorous practices that prepare them for daily demands, share case studies and create a valued community of trust. Heather Kaye and Kathleen Loehr are the primary facilitators of the program, with experience in coaching, fundraising and nonprofit leadership. There are two upcoming programs in partnership with The Nonprofit Roundtable - April 16 in Washington, DC and May 17 in Northern Virginia. To learn more, visit



Are you thinking of producing a video about the work of your nonprofit or community organization, but are not sure where to start? Documenting Your Story is an all-day conference that empowers nonprofit leaders throughout the DC Metro area to get to the heart of your story and tell it in ways both visual and impactful.


The conference will be held on Thursday, May 17, 2012 from 9:00 am - 5:00 pm at George Washington University in Washington, DC. This program is produced by film organizations Docs In Progress and Stone Soup Films. LEARN MORE HERE: Documenting Your Story.



Mission Measurement is hiring for an associate position (Chicago) and an engagement manager (Chicago or Washington, DC). Mission Measurement is a consulting firm that works with corporations, nonprofits and government agencies on measuring and improving their social impact.  The end results of their work - more lives improved, more effective organizations, higher return on social investment - are incredibly rewarding.  To find out about these opportunities, please contact Wendy Lazar at