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Strategic Plan for Johnson Center

Context For Planning

The Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy is an academic center within CCPS that brings engaging relevance to the educational dimensions of GVSU undergraduate and graduate student experience. 


The work and vision of the Johnson Center reflects a recognition that philanthropy is growing globally and increasingly becoming engaged in ever-more complicated, inter-connected, and growing community problem-solving. There are emerging markets developing that need support. The Johnson Center’s drivers need to mirror the global evolving context and respond the emerging markets by putting in place programs, frameworks, tools and thought leadership that can help build an understanding, strengthening and advancing of philanthropy. 

 Developing and implementing a solid and relevant strategic framework for the Johnson Center is essential to ensure the Center remains a valued and sustainabile center of excellence for GVSU. The plan provided will guide the Johnson Center's work through 2021.

Mission

The Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy is a university-based center leading a systems-based, comprehensive approach to serving nonprofits, foundations, and others seeking to transform their communities for the public good.

Vision

The Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy envisions highly valued, effective philanthropy, equipped with expanded knowledge and resources to advance the public good and transform communities.

Value Statement

Strategic Priorities, outcomes, and key objectives

Strategic Priority Area 1: Actively engage learners at all levels.

Outcome A: Grand Valley's learning environment is personal, challenging, and transformational, supporting excellent academic programs and co-curricular opportunities.

Objective 1.A.1

Provide graduate and undergraduate students genuine community experiences through fellowships and internships.

Baseline

Develop a graduate and undergraduate student opportunity in every program area.

Progress

2019 Status
Achieved
We served as a field placement site for three MSW interns and had 4 full-time GAs during the past year. We have 3 - 5 students each semester who work in administrative support roles.

2017 Status
Substantive Progress
Continued to provide learning opportunities throughout the Center with more than 20 undergraduate and graduate students. This does not include various student positions provided administrative duties.

Outcome B: Grand Valley is diverse and inclusive.

Objective 1.B.1

Review, analyze and revise the Johnson Center's publications and curricula to ensure they embrace and celebrate diversity, inclusion, and culturally competent practices.

Baseline

Current materials were created without a lens toward diversity, equity or inclusion.

Progress

2019 Status
Achieved
Completed review of curricular materials, public-facing resources, and internal policies to embed DEI principles across our systems and tools. Increased diversity represented on our blog through more guest authors and devoted a 3-month content series, Field Focus: Inclusive Strategies for Prosperity, to lifting up these topics. New marketing materials were designed to represent diverse learners/staff, and embraced asset-based language.

2017 Status
Substantive Progress
In addition to updating our curriculum, we are exploring how to infuse diversity, equity and inclusion into our leadership and evaluation efforts.

Outcome F: The College of Community and Public Service is a celebration and exemplar of community engaged teaching, research and service.

Objective 1.F.1

1. Provide graduate and undergraduate students genuine community experiences through fellowships and internships. 2. Provide relevant and user-friendly data for individuals and community decision makers (CRI). 3. Provide nonprofit and leadership support to volunteers, practitioners, and leaders in the nonprofit sector (NPS-Strategic Leadership Series). 4. Educate and engage leaders and advocates of philanthropy in the Johnson Centers areas of expertise in through classroom and online experiences (IFDL).

Baseline

1. Host a graduate student in every program area. 2. Conduct annual signature survey and evaluation projects. 3. Conduct quarterly workshops to the public. 4. Teach and publish culturally relevant best practices in grant making.

Progress

2019 Status
Substantial Progress
1. Two graduate students serve as Agard and Orosz Fellows and are integrated into projects that cross program areas. An HTM professor serves as the Mawby Faculty Fellow and is working closely with a student to conduct research into the intersections of tourism and corporate philanthropy. Two MSW students serve as interns in our Evaluation & Consulting and Learning Services program areas. 2. Track 1 of LearnPhilanthropy Academy (LPA) was published December 2019. An undergraduate student played a significant role in the track's development as a video and audio producer. Several graduate students took part in content development and project management for LPA. 3. Implemented an Annual Calendar for our workshops and webinars to advance sustainable workshop planning and provide community members with a longer horizon for scheduling and budgeting for professional development. This system has increased our workshop offerings 50% YOY. 4. We have moved all Grantmaking School core courses to the GVSU Detroit Center to become more accessible to students/practitioners traveling to attend programs. Offered custom Grantmaking School courses in Colorado, North Carolina, Michigan, and elsewhere. 5. Continue to undertake and complete research, evaluation, and consulting engagements state- and nationwide to understand, strengthen, and advance philanthropy among organizations and networks.

2018 Status
Substantial Progress
1. Every program area employed graduate and student assistants. The center awarded Orosz and Agard student fellowships and internships and a Mawby fellowship to GVSU faculty. 2. VoiceKent survey gathered data on Kent County residents’ experiences and views related to health and wellbeing, discrimination and inclusion, and overall quality of life in order to provide that information back to the community. 4,800 participated in 2017. 3. Offered monthly workshops and webinars free and for purchase. 4. The Grantmaking School is developing new course modules and existing curriculum is being revised to be more inclusive in their approach. A competency model for program officers is being developed, funded by foundations, which will lead into badging and case studies. LearnPhilanthropy Academy online courses for new grantmakers are being developed. The center’s presence in Metro Detroit expanded.

Strategic Priority Area 2: Further develop exceptional personnel.

Outcome B: Grand Valley is diverse and inclusive.

Objective 2.B.1

Seek to recruit, retain and engage a diverse workforce.

Baseline

Current workforce reflects much of those new to the sector and region which is predominately female, under 35, and Caucasian..

Progress

2019 Status
Substantial Progress
The Johnson Center has adopted new recruitment strategies for open positions, with the goal of increasing pool diversity. Strategies include: better leveraging full staff networks, posting open opportunities on different job boards/platforms to reach a broader audience, listing a wider range of required qualifications in position descriptions to acknowledge the value of adaptable experiences, and leaving job searches open for longer periods. The Johnson Center has also clarified internal guidance (with input from staff) on FWAs, dress codes, promotions and raises, and titles to increase transparency and equity among staff.

2017 Status
Substantive Progress
Developing more consistency in our staffing by reducing the number of 12-month contract positions and focusing on more permanent positions.

Outcome C: Grand Valley has mutually beneficial relationships, partnerships, collaborations, and connections with local, state, national, and world communities.

Objective 2.C.1

1. Recruit and retain talent with quality experiences in local and global philanthropy. 2. Recruit and realign talent to increase the effectiveness of data, evaluation and research services.

Baseline

Several open positions in CRI and IFDL.

Progress

2019 Status
Substantive Progress
Several open leadership and staff positions in Learning Services, CDRL, and Evaluation and Consulting. Search committees are working on four of these positions, while the leadership team is considering how best to realign two other open positions to serve highest need areas within the Center. Hired one web developer in 2019.

2018 Status
Substantial Progress
A new Scholar in Residence for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion with local and regional leadership experience was hired. A program manager with foundation experience was hired. Writer and Learning Director positions are in process. CRI restructuring continues and work transitions to long-term and aligned projects. Staff engagement has risen and turnover has dropped. Web developer candidate pool is gender, race, and internationally diverse. A database programmer was hired, a former graduate assistant. Planning to connect faculty research and community needs with CRI’s work. The Leadership Council and advisory boards for our work in The Foundation Review, LearnPhilanthropy include local, regional, and national members.

Outcome E: Grand Valley strategically allocates its fiscal, human, and other institutional resources.

Objective 2.E.1

Develop a talent agenda that grows new leaders by proving management and leadership support opportunities to new and existing Johnson Center staff.

Baseline

Senior Accountability Team Members have identified needs and a plan for changing existing staff engagement opportunities to create growth experiences. Professional Support Staff continue to be encouraged to take advantage of grow opportunities both internally and externally via conferences, workshops, and trainings.

Progress

2019 Status
Substantial Progress
Conducted a staff Skills Inventory this year to assess team strengths, identify areas for full staff growth, and assist individuals and their supervisors in developing growth plans in coordination with ePDP. We identified project scoping (and related software); diversity, equity, and inclusion; and writing as key areas where staff desire professional development. We're pursuing opportunities for learning in the new year. Staff are also continuing to attend conferences, enroll in courses and programs through GVSU, and take advantage of Johnson Center workshops to enhance their skills and networks.

2017 Status
Substantive Progress
Staff development plans and staff recruitment plans have been developed.

Strategic Priority Area 3: Ensure the alignment of institutional structures and functions.

Outcome A: Grand Valley's learning environment is personal, challenging, and transformational, supporting excellent academic programs and co-curricular opportunities.

Objective 3.A.1

Provide affiliate faculty to broaden the SPNHA curriculum in the areas of philanthropy.

Baseline

Two Johnson Center staff serve as affiliate faculty to SPNHA.

Progress

2019 Status
Substantial Progress
Two staff serve as affiliate faculty. Collaborations with SPNHA faculty include: co-lead free Lunch and Learn series monthly; include criminal justice faculty on an evaluation of an inmate learning initiative; a hospitality/tourism faculty member is serving as the 2019-2020 Mawby Fellow in Philanthropic Studies. Currently expanding collaborations with faculty and staff at the Seidman College of Business (on badging program and Ecosystem for Nonprofit Leadership), Small Business Development Center, the College of Education, and elsewhere.

2018 Status
Substantial Progress
Three staff served as adjunct faculty.

Outcome B: Grand Valley is diverse and inclusive.

Objective 3.B.1

Develop and enhance the Johnson Centers cultural competence and workplace inclusion practices.

Baseline

The staff and students are not provided, nor encouraged to engage in professional development opportunities (individually or as a group) that would increase awareness and appreciation for the diversity of cultures and perspectives.

Progress

2019 Status
Substantial Progress
The Johnson Center's internal DEI committee conducted a center-wide Climate Survey with assistance from GVSU's Office of Inclusion and Equity. Results were shared with all staff, and the committee is leading internal conversations and initiatives to address concerns raised through the survey. We are developing "official" shared work norms as a full staff. We are updating our onboarding processes to ensure all new staff are welcomed and smoothly integrated into our workplace culture (including staff-to-staff mentoring and designing a longer-term approach to onboarding, rather than on Day 1 only). The Johnson Center has also conducted a staff skills inventory, which is informing our strategies for staff professional development. We have expanded our staff meeting time quarterly to accommodate group professional development.

2017 Status
Minimal Progress
The Center is continuing it professional development efforts in this area.

Outcome C: Grand Valley has mutually beneficial relationships, partnerships, collaborations, and connections with local, state, national, and world communities.

Objective 3.C.1

Collaborate with SPNHA faculty to attract and host premiere academic conferences (ARNOVA-2107).

Baseline

The ARNOVA Conference is scheduled for November, 2017 in Grand Rapids.

Progress

2018 Status
Achieved
The conference was well executed. It was the largest event in ARNOVA history with close to 1,000 participants from all over the world. The Johnson Center’s 25th anniversary was celebrated during a reception at the conference with funding from five local foundations.

2017 Status
Substantive Progress
Partnered with SPNHA to host ARNOVA with near record-breaking registration rates.

Outcome E: Grand Valley strategically allocates its fiscal, human, and other institutional resources.

Objective 3.E.1

Maintain a business model with an earned to contributed income ratio of no less than 75/25.

Baseline

Current budget is based on 65% earned revenue model.

Progress

2019 Status
Substantive Progress
Developed and distributed to stakeholders a complete Business Plan reflecting our plans to raise contributed funds for 1) developing competency model-based badges in partnership with GVSU colleagues, 2) the Community Insight data visualization platform, 3) and the Ecosystem for Nonprofit Leadership board development project - as well as our plans to engage funders for new endowed chair positions in DEI and innovative philanthropy. Raised funds to conduct a market study determining our unique value to the philanthropic sector and assessing philanthropic leaders' perceptions of the value of the services and professional development opportunities we offer. That study is not yet completed.

2018 Status
Substantive Progress
The center's ratio is 58%. Program areas' income ratios are 92%, 61%, and 44%. During this year, we made some adjustments to our business model that will improve future performance. We have engaged more with the University’s Big Data project to support our IT server needs. We continue to partner with University Libraries to host The Foundation Review and to maintain the endowed philanthropy library collection. We have made internal changed to standardize our project planning, improved our time-tracking, and created more standardized approaches to client engagement. These steps will increase our ability to budget more accurately. We are charging for well attended webinars -- over 1,000 international attendees including the Johnson Center/Council of Michigan Foundations Grantmaking Series certificate. We've developed a model for fundraising for multi-year initiatives and tested it successfully with fundraising for the Frey Chair. TFR continues to expand its reach and has sponsorships for 2019 - 20.

Strategic Priority Area 4: Enhance the institution's image and reputation.

Outcome C: Grand Valley has mutually beneficial relationships, partnerships, collaborations, and connections with local, state, national, and world communities.

Objective 4.C.1

Convene leaders in philanthropy on critical topics related to the Johnson Center's expertise and disseminate findings with key stakeholders and the general public.

Baseline

Host premier conferences in Family Philanthropy,Nonprofit Management, Collective Giving circles and Equity in Evaluation.

Progress

2019 Status
Substantial Progress
The 5th biennial National Summit in Family Philanthropy gathered nearly 100 family philanthropists, advisors, and thought leaders in Florida in January 2019. The Johnson Center conducted two gatherings of the Neighborhood Leadership Academy, reaching dozens of Grand Rapids-area community members each time. We hosted a convening on learning in foundations with nearly 30 foundation staff attendees in Colorado, as well as a convening of CEOs from spend-down foundations in Detroit. The Foundation Review published 35 new articles to advance thinking around evaluation, inclusive community change, and foundation learning. Articles of The Foundation Review are downloaded over 100 times daily, around the world. Johnson Center staff also attended and presented at myriad conferences, including the Council of Michigan Foundations, ARNOVA, Upswell, the Michigan Nonprofit Association's Talent Summit, and others.

2017 Status
Substantive Progress
The proposed national convening were all hosted as planned with significant participation rates.

Outcome E: Grand Valley strategically allocates its fiscal, human, and other institutional resources.

Objective 4.E.1

Collaborate with GVSU Development to ensure positive engagement with philanthropic institutions and other donors where appropriate.

Baseline

Regular communication between Development and the Johnson Center.

Progress

2019 Status
Substantial Progress
Progress identified in 2018 continues smoothly. Worked closely with University Development through the National Summit on Family Philanthropy in 2019, identifying sites and sharing guest and honoree lists. Meet quarterly (and additionally as needed) with University Development counterparts to share updates, copies of our fundraising materials, and new prospects. We collaborate to identify and discuss new potential funders and trends in philanthropy that might impact university and/or Johnson Center-specific fundraising plans.

2018 Status
Substantial Progress
Working alongside to effectively and inclusively identify, cultivate, and secure development prospects. Initial plans for fund development are underway. A list of prospects is identified that push the center beyond Michigan, gift and grant tracking are in Salesforce, creating collateral material. Activities are moving to communications and marketing for general fund development activities.

Outcome F: The College of Community and Public Service is a celebration and exemplar of community engaged teaching, research and service.

Objective 4.F.1

The Johnson Center serves as a center of excellence for nonprofit and philanthropic engagement, research and best practice.

Baseline

The Johnson Center is recognized nationally as one of the leading Centers for Philanthropy.

Progress

2019 Status
Substantial Progress
Johnson Center communications channels continue to grow and feed engagement. Social media followership is up 30-40% across platforms since 2017; e-newsletters drive 12% of web traffic and are a key impetus for workshop registrations. Trends reports remain a critical thought leadership piece; readership grew 400% from 2018 to 2019. Johnson Center remains the largest applied research center on philanthropy. Staff continue to attend and present at conferences nationwide, building partnerships with philanthropy serving organizations and nonprofits/foundations to broaden our audience. Articles from The Foundation Review 49,000 times in the past year and we continue to secure sponsorships to support new themed issues. Johnson Center leadership identified and committed to a 2-year research agenda that defines our key areas of study and plans for dissemination.

2018 Status
Substantial Progress
Partnerships expand/use the thought leadership approach. Field Focus explores important topics with local and national guests from the field through blogs, webinars, and Field Notes in Philanthropy podcasts. TGS courses are popular and trending. TFR articles were downloaded over 36,000 times. LearnPhilanthropy has over 6,000 Twitter followers. Monthly nonprofit Lunch & Learns held in partnership with SPNHA are filled and feedback is positive.

Objective 4.F.2

Provide high quality, accessible analysis of community needs for the greater Grand Rapids area. (VoiceGR).

Baseline

Conduct a biennial community survey of community needs.

Progress

2019 Status
Substantial Progress
Johnson Center staff met with approximately 15 community organizations to assess data needs and gaps in understanding. In consultation with these organizations and others (e.g., Kent County Health Department), the Johnson Center has determined to postpone current plans to conduct a new VoiceKent survey in favor of conducting a Community Data Inventory that will provide a more holistic view of existing datasets and gaps in the county. This inventory is intended to feed a larger initiative to create the Community Insight data visualization tool, which will ideally serve more of a data hub function to meet local needs. We are already in conversation with local funders and community foundations to identify support for this project.

2018 Status
Substantial Progress
Funds are being raised for the VoiceKent survey.

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