2012 Impacts and Successes

2012 was a year of building for Creating the Future - ongoing work to create infrastructure, while putting into place key pieces upon which mission and program work could build and soar. This included recruitment of new board members, ongoing work towards attaining our 501(c)(3), as well as creating an interim overhaul of the website. In addition to that infrastructure development, the organization began to codify its theory of change, delineating 4 pillars upon which we intend to accomplish our mission: Research and Development; Education; Demonstration; Convening. The following are program successes in those 4 areas for 2012.

Research and Development:

  • Philanthropy R&D team developed the framework for putting our values into action when it comes to seeking funding - that we will look to engage the whole person, rather than just seeking money. By year-end, that led to a plan for seeking significant partners to help determine how we will accomplish our mission in 10 years from ramping up programs - partners who don't just want to fund our planning and program development, but who want to be part of the planning and part of whatever results from that plan, with more than just money.
  • Governance R&D: Several meetings of parties interested in how governance can aim at creating the future of the org's community. Those meetings led to two decisions: 1) The decision to engage more effective conversations about boards in each of our day-to-day lives, and 2) Creating the Future's governance R&D would primarily be the purview of our board, in its role as a learning board.
  • Continuum of Potential: Research into individuals and behavior change led to a graduate level video class, with participants helping to test the approaches through their day-to-day work.

Education:

Until Creating the Future is fully funded and staffed, its educational programs are limited to what the 2 co-founders can teach, both in person and via online / distance approaches.

  • Taught 1 week-long immersion course for consultants. http://www.creatingthefuture.org/Cnslt-Education/ConsultantEducationCurriculum.htm
  • Scheduled a week-long immersion course for on-the-ground changemakers (February 2013) http://www.creatingthefuture.org/Changemakers/ChangemakerEducation.htm
  • Mentored volunteer facilitators to run the #NPCons twitter chat for consultants. http://www.npcons.net/
  • Rooted in the R&D work on the learning continuum, our monthly newsletter (10,000 subscribers) transformed to focus on a single topic (fundraising, boards, engagement, etc.), providing an in-depth look at that topic, with something for every learning level. Each newsletter now has an intro-level article, a "deeper thinking" article, a podcast (from the series produced by Creating the Future for the Chronicle of Philanthropy), and a 3 minute video on a narrow topic related to that issue. http://creatingthefuture.org/CurrentNEWSLETTER_.htm
  • Continuum of Potential - developed a 60 minute video class plus 35 page workbook for a graduate level course (graduates of our immersion course). Hosted live Q&A sessions on the topic, where participants asked questions and discussed their observations, learning from the instructor and from each other.
  • Expanded educational articles posted at all blogs, and added educational videos to the YouTube library. Expanded list of authors (blog) and video producers.
  • Added a blog focused entirely on community development http://blogs.creatingthefuture.org/communityfocus/
  • Monthly "Making Change" podcast at the Chronicle of Philanthropy - interviewed NPR correspondent Andy Carvin, Community Leader and Entrepreneur Bob Oldfather, Foundation CEO Lori Seibel, Craigslist founder Craig Newmark, Global Health Activist Alanna Shaikh, Foundation CEO Sonya Campion, University Professor Martin Brueckner, Evaluation guru Michael Quinn Patton, Social Innovation leader Tonya Surman, Foundation CEO Alberto Ibarguen, and Foundation CEO Debra Jacobs. philanthropy.com/section/Making-Change/456/
  • Participated in podcast learning session for Tamarack Institute for Community Engagement, as part of ongoing desire by both orgs to find ways to partner. http://tamarackcommunity.ca/g3s61_2012q.html
  • Co-founder Hildy Gottlieb began blogging for the Fearless Revolution blog, to bring Creating the Future's educational mission into the Social Enterprise arena http://fearlessrevolution.com/

Demonstration:

Creating the Future's board firmly stepped into its role as a demonstration project and learning lab.

  • In the spring, the board decided to invite guests to fully participate and add to the conversations at our meetings. This came from the understanding that no matter how diverse a board is, there is always a need to add fresh ideas and perspectives. Among the guests in 2012 were Dr. Joel Orosz (Distinguished Professor of Philanthropic Studies at the Johnson Center for Philanthropy at Grand Valley State University) and Lynn Hoffman (CEO of the Idaho Association of Nonprofits). Other guests - Erin Tierney, Mark Eckhardt and Karl Wilding, were later invited to become board members.
  • At its December meeting, the board voted to increase participation in its meetings even further by committing to stream all its meetings live via Google Hangout, beginning with the January 2013 meeting. Further, the board voted to encourage anyone anywhere to participate in those meetings via the Twitter hashtag #CTFuture. All meetings beginning January 1, 2013, are to be archived via YouTube and posted, along with the agenda, the minutes, and any accompanying reports. The thinking behind that decision was posted here for discussion prior to the board's vote http://blogs.creatingthefuture.org/walkingthetalk/2012/11/26/full-frontal-engagement/
  • The board continued to use its Walking the Talk blog http://blogs.creatingthefuture.org/walkingthetalk/ to engage participation in issues such as Intellectual Property (vs sharing what we learn); Board Documentarian (job description development); Executive Session Policy (when to be closed vs open); Demonstration Projects (criteria for choosing); Intern / Volunteer program development; Why We're Not Doing a Year-End Campaign.

Convening and Engaging:

In addition to all the convening successes that fall within the other parts of our mission, the following are specifically intended for the purpose of engaging a more effective conversation about social change, across all sectors.

  • Using Facebook, Creating the Future's presence has become more integrated into key discussions around social change, including an online global conversation held in December 2012 re: social innovation and knowledge platforms http://scwf12.wordpress.com/2012/12/27/bridging-into-2013-living-bridges-talk/
  • In just one year, Creating the Future's consultants group on Facebook has grown to the point of needing volunteer facilitators. The community is cited among its participants as being among the most vibrant in which they participate – a safe space for talking about the nuts and bolts of consulting to social change organizations. http://www.facebook.com/groups/252675114773604/
  • Participation in the monthly #NPCons twitter chat continues to grow and become more vibrant, leading to a webinar planned for early 2013 on Building Community Through Twitter chats, to teach others how to facilitate community using this tool. #NPCons chats average 10-20 participants per month actively participating, with approximately 100 views per month of the chat archives.
  • Graduate community listserv continues to generate discussion and the opportunity for partnership.

With these successes behind us for 2012, Creating the Future is poised to jump into action in 2013, with strategic initiatives stemming from the board's 2012 discussions – find partners for planning and ramping up programs to accomplish our mission, while stabilizing and enhancing current programming until that planning and program development occurs. 2012 has set the stage for a highly productive 2013!