The Gifford Newsletter

Winter 2023
Building Stronger Structures and Stories

Banner photo courtesy of Symphoria

Sheena Solomon is the Executive Director of The Gifford Foundation.

Ask a Consultant: Understanding Organizational Development

Ryan Williams is a trained Lifecycles Capacity consultant with experience working in both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors. Currently, he is working with Gifford as one of the consultants in our Embracing Disruption cohort: Gifford’s 17-month capacity building program.

He sat down with us to discuss strategies around organizational development and to set the record straight regarding common misconceptions that plague many nonprofits as they seek to strengthen and develop their impact.

Stone Quarry Art Park: Growing Capacity by Prioritizing Artists

Founded in 1991, Stone Quarry Art Park has been drawing audiences to its scenic Cazenovia setting for more than 30 years. Over the course of its history, their mission of providing outdoor access to contemporary art has remained relatively constant. Their story is a reminder that although an organization’s mission is unlikely to shift dramatically over time, the methodologies and structures that support that mission are always open to revision.

Asset Framing: Why Communication Matters

Syracuse has a new paper in town: Central Current is steadily establishing itself as a nonprofit, independent alternative for regional journalism. They see themselves as part of a national trend of emerging news outlets that are attempting to fill the massive gap left by the closure and decline of local newspapers across the United States. Although this position is challenging and the future unclear, Central Current’s leaders have found that the narrative around their mission and struggle is also one of their greatest assets.

Symphoria's Executive Director Pam Murchsion smiles and gestures with both hands while talking to a fellow musician at a concert.

Symphoria: Leveraging Structure and Space to Support Their Mission

Pam Murchison is acutely aware that supporting her organization’s mission may not necessarily mean embracing tradition. As the Executive Director of Symphoria, she spends every day working to decipher what the role of orchestral music is in today’s world. When the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra went bankrupt in 2011, there was little doubt that a new model had to be found. This has meant engaging new audiences by updating the spaces where music is presented and enjoyed, as well as how their organization itself is structured.

Looking for more organizational development tools?

What is Organizational Development?

This guide from TSNE offers a concise explanation of the meaning and purpose behind organizational development work.

The "Five Whys" Technique

A simple exercise that can help structure and deepen conversations. The next time your team is troubleshooting a problem, we recommend giving it a shot.

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