Helping to help even legends need business strategies: the reputation of New York Harlem's Hale house sank when its president was indicted for financial mismanagement Dr. Lawrence T. Davenport, a veteran financial executive, has stepped in to apply his business acumen and administrative talents to steer the organization back to its former glory.Over 30 years ago, Mother Clara Hale Clara McBride Hale, also known as Mother Hale (b. April 1, 1905, d. December 18, 1992) was an African-American humanitarian who founded Hale House, a home for unwanted children. opened the doors at Hale House Center in Harlem in New York City New York City: see New York, city.
New York City
City (pop., 2000: 8,008,278), southeastern New York, at the mouth of the Hudson River. The largest city in the U.S. . Her goal: to sustain babies and children in need and their families in crisis who couldn't support them. President Reagan called the legendary founder "a saint and an American hero American Hero may refer to:
Her successor, Dr. Lawrence F. Davenport, Hale House's current Executive Director and CEO (1) (Chief Executive Officer) The highest individual in command of an organization. Typically the president of the company, the CEO reports to the Chairman of the Board. since June 2002, is a former educator and college administrator, high-ranking federal government official and Vice President and CFO See Chief Financial Officer. of the Milton Hershey School The Milton Hershey School is a private philanthropic (pre-K through 12) boarding school in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Originally named the Hershey Industrial School, the institution was founded and funded by chocolate industrialist Milton Snavely Hershey and his wife Catherine . As a young boy, he wanted to be a social worker, making that his first job out of college. "Coming to Hale House is, for me, coming full-circle professionally," says the tall and soft-spoken Davenport.
When he accepted the post, he knew he faced formidable challenges to repair the center's tarnished reputation and win back public confidence for the center. Any misgivings he had revolved around the uncertainty and risk of relying on donor contributions in a tough economy, with individuals and corporations cutting back on charitable giving.
But Davenport is very mindful, and somewhat in awe, of how Mother Clara Hale continually found ways to address new problems and needs while performing her mission of building better lives for disadvantaged children.
Since his arrival, Davenport and his staff have implemented systemic changes to the organization, aiming to perform some minor miracles of their own by developing and implementing basic management models. Can coordinated strategic planning Strategic planning is an organization's process of defining its strategy, or direction, and making decisions on allocating its resources to pursue this strategy, including its capital and people. , program evaluations Program evaluation is a formalized approach to studying and assessing projects, policies and program and determining if they 'work'. Program evaluation is used in government and the private sector and it's taught in numerous universities. , and performance measures help to carry on the legacy?
Pennies Don't Come from Heaven
When Dr. Lorraine Hale stepped down, the New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of Attorney General's office took over the organization, dismanted the board of directors and appointed a new board. This new board then hired an interim director, who served for one year prior to Davenport's arrival.
During this transition period, fundraising and public relations public relations, activities and policies used to create public interest in a person, idea, product, institution, or business establishment. By its nature, public relations is devoted to serving particular interests by presenting them to the public in the most were in crisis mode, or worse; the usual support of notables and celebrities eroded, direct mail solicitations for donations ceased and the frequent donor contribution list dwindled from 200,000 contributors to 12,000.
"The public simply didn't know Hale House was still in business," Davenport says about the situation when he stepped in. "No official fundraising took place at all. It was as if a car manufacturer had financial problems, or lost a large part of its market, and then decided not to tell customers it was still making cars."
Just before taking the reins, Davenport held a weekend meeting with the staff, board, outside Legal counsel, advisors and the interim director to discuss what they had done for the past year and what everyone could do--and should do--to raise the quality of services. Starting with the fundamentals, he tackled the structural and financial problems.
He began by looking at the organizational structure This article has no lead section.
To comply with Wikipedia's lead section guidelines, one should be written. , which lacked basic internal controls and, due to all the controversy, was weak and unstable. He prepared an environmental analysis to re-conceptualize Hale House from the ground up, focusing on core areas such as: evaluating the external and internal environment, determining the constituent base, assessing constituent needs and how to respond to them, estimating the cost of implementing quality services over time and exploring the potential income sources to support those services.
Putting the Strategy to Work
Three months after that weekend meeting, Davenport conducted a board retreat where he presented a draft strategic plan, along with a resource plan designed to stabilize the current residential program, help implement new programs and coordinate fundraising and marketing strategies. He emphasized that staff could no longer perform these processes independently; an integrated framework was needed.
"The key to fundraising for a charitable organization This article is about charitable organizations. For other uses of the word charity, see Charity.
A charitable organization (also known as a charity) is an organization with charitable purposes only. is creating sound management controls that are bolstered by long-range planning and financial accountability. But this doesn't happen simply by recognizing the need for money," argues Davenport. His strategic blueprint established an initial two-year planning cycle, which focused on designing better ways to communicate and promote the organization's message; re-examine re·ex·am·ine also re-ex·am·ine
tr.v. re·ex·am·ined, re·ex·am·in·ing, re·ex·am·ines
1. To examine again or anew; review.
2. Law To question (a witness) again after cross-examination. recruitment of staff, board members and volunteers; and develop an ongoIng market-testing system to monitor the fit between programs and constituents' needs.
One major goal for the management team is cultivating new donors and diversifying the base of support--Davenport hopes to build the donor list to 150,000 by next June. As an FEI FEI
Fédération Équestre Internationale. member and former trustee for Financial Executives Research Foundation (FERF FERF Financial Executives Research Foundation
FERF Far End Reporting Failure
FERF Far End Receive Failure ), he has experience in the area of reaching potential contributors that he is applying to his current task. "Cultivation of supporters is driven by the ability to develop relationships over time. What better way to do so than by recognizing and following someone else's success?" he asks.
Big Problems, Bold Moves
One big headache that had nothing to do with fundraising or programs, but that required immediate attention, involved apartment buildings given to the organization. Donated by New York City in 1988 and 1993, the buildings were the site of a tenant rent strike prior to Davenport's arrival. He notes that 60 units have been brought up to standards. Additionally, Hale House has made a proposal to the city department serving the homeless to utilize 16 of the apartments for transitional housing and supportive services.
Perhaps best of all, these properties will house two new programs Davenport has established: the Mother Hale Learning Center, accommodating 40 children from the ages of six weeks to four years, and the Hale House TLC TLC total lung capacity; thin-layer chromatography.
1. thin-layer chromatography
2. , a therapeutic learning center for 28 special needs children. Both programs will open in early 2004.
With its emphasis on financial accountability and expanded programming, the restructured organization is making serious efforts to regain the confidence of United Way, to broaden and create alliances and to reconnect with its donor base. To his surprise, Davenport learned that Hale House did not belong to any national or local charitable organizations. That is no longer the case. It has joined the Child Welfare League of America, the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies The Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies (FPWA) is a social services institution in New York City. FPWA has, since its inception in 1922, had the goal of promoting the social and economic well-being of greater New York’s most vulnerable people by strengthening human service and the Harlem Chamber of Commerce.
The shelter also began the Hale House Business Partnership Program to seek community support from neighborhood businesses. There are now internships available for both undergraduate and graduate students from local universities to work on the partnerships and in the flagship residential childcare program.
Also, a media consultant, hired by the board to deal with crisis management, was asked by Davenport to build media relationships and distributes press releases about successes to all media outlets. Additionally, he implemented a symbolic change by making the center's car available to staff for business purposes, rather than reserving it for exclusive use by the executive director. Indeed, Davenport is now a regular user of New York's mass transportation system.
Maximize Services and Evaluation
Business executives know that to improve strategy and products and become "best in class" requires capitalizing on organizational strengths and dealing with structural weaknesses. To its credit, despite the problems of the past few years, Hale House's staff continued--without interruption--to care for babies born to mothers with problems in a community ravaged rav·age
v. rav·aged, rav·ag·ing, rav·ages
1. To bring heavy destruction on; devastate: A tornado ravaged the town.
2. by poverty.
Like other enterprises striving for good management practices, Hale House must address recruiting and retaining quality employees. Davenport understands the importance of providing an environment for staff that supports training, professional growth and continuous learning. "We strive to make this a best-in-class children's program. So we need people with the highest qualifications and experience who want to stay here because they are happy with their mission."
He has instituted both a fully funded pension plan Funded pension plan
A pension plan in which all liabilities, including payments to be made to pensioners in the immediate future, are completely funded. and non-contributory health insurance benefits for employees, neither of which had been in place. Also, several new staff positions were created, such as: coordinator of family services, director of program development, director of education and training, director of finance, facilities manager and two full-time custodians. No detail is too small or minor to Davenport; he hired a specialist to review cleanliness Cleanliness
See also Orderliness.
Cleverness (See CUNNING.)
unkempt herself, demands cleanliness from others, especially children. [Ger. Folklore: Leach, 137]
continually “washes” itself. standards, and now the custodians have daily checklists they follow to make certain the organization's facilities are maintained at the highest standards.
Davenport holds weekly staff meetings and also meets regularly with individual department heads, who must now develop their own budgets and annual reports for inclusion in the organization's annual report. Also, he has incorporated a strategic plan with a weekly tracking system so everyone can assess his or her progress on a day-to-day basis.
His advice to other financial executives who choose to run non-profits is to be willing to admit they don't have all the answers and need help making decisions. "Especially in a turnaround situation, keep your faith and build a team with the same dedication to success," he says.
In the future, Davenport envisions Hale House having a different structure with even more employees, offering integrated services In computer networking, IntServ or integrated services is an architecture that specifies the elements to guarantee quality of service (QoS) on networks. IntServ can for example be used to allow video and sound to reach the receiver without interruption. that will enable it to be a touchstone touchstone
Black, silica-containing stone used in assaying to determine the purity of gold and silver. The metal to be assayed is rubbed on the touchstone, and then a sample of metal of known purity is rubbed on the stone right next to it. in the lives of the children who have benefited from the shelter.
Using his background in finance and process, Davenport has the organization busy exploring ways to measure the effectiveness of its programs and whether they are addressing the community's needs--through data assessment, research and technology integration linked to program implementation and evaluation practices. But, ultimately, the bottom line at Hale House is its ability to continue performing its core mission: to help children and families build better lives.
Cynthia Waller Vallario is a business writer and lawyer in Livingston, N.J. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.