Nonprofit / Community Benefit Consultants and Coaches

History of the Facebook Community for Consultants to Community Benefit Groups

For decades, Creating the Future’s founders have been teaching consultants to bring out the best in themselves and those they encounter. That teaching has evolved from informal teaching-by- example-and- conversation, to formally providing “consultant education” since 2009.

Because Creating the Future’s 10 year mission is to “teach people how to change the systems they find themselves in, to aim those systems at creating what is possible, all by changing the questions they ask,” Creating the Future considers consultants to be an important focus of that mission. That’s because every consultant who understands these practices has the potential to share that knowledge with hundreds of organizations and thousands of people.

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As Creating the Future prepares to accomplish our mission by the end of 2026, our Consultants’ community is a big part of that effort.

The following is a history of Creating the Future’s “Community of Practitioners for Community Benefit Consultants.” That history will begin at the beginning, when the consultants who founded the group began their own quest - to be the best consultants they could be, and to bring their fellow consultants along with them.


Hildy Gottlieb and Dimitri Petropolis were consulting to community benefit orgs and southwestern US Native American tribes, under the name Help 4 Nonprofits & Tribes.


“Aha” that social change groups were working hard and smart, and still nothing was changing in the world.

Conversations via CharityChannel (group of listservs with 100,000 participants worldwide, active in late 90’s early 00’s) and ARNOVA listserv (listerv of thousands of professionals via the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action) led to realizing that frustration was rampant among consultants, academics and on-the- ground providers everywhere.

Hildy and Dimitri vow to deconstruct the systems all those groups have in common (planning, leadership, governance, resources), to determine what was stopping groups from creating change.


Hildy & Dimitri experimenting with new approaches to organizational systems with their own consulting clients.

Shared what they were learning via CharityChannel and ARNOVA listservs.


Hildy & Dimitri no longer doing any aspect of organizational work the way everyone else was doing it – strategy, boards, resource development, community engagement.

Reputation was growing, especially among fellow consultants, for achieving successes those other consultants were not able to achieve.

Consultants from around the globe asking Hildy & Dimitri to teach what they had learned, leading to the pair’s vow to find a way to do so.


Hildy wrote The Pollyanna Principles, to share what they had learned.

In 2008, 8 consultants from across the US & Canada flew to Tucson to help the pair figure out how to teach fellow consultants these new approaches to the work of consulting to community benefit orgs.


Published The Pollyanna Principles.

Hildy & Dimitri launched the first 5 day Consultant Immersion Course: Consulting to Create the Future, still under the auspices of their consulting firm.

Launched the monthly #NPCons Twitter chat for “NonProfit Consultants.” At its peak, chats would generate 300-400 tweets in one hour.


Hildy & Dimitri quit consulting to focus full time on educating others. Founded Creating the Future as a 501c3 organization.

Creating the Future is a collection of people around the world, supporting each other in a grand experiment – to determine how much better the world could be if the systems we encounter every day were aimed at creating what is possible. 

All education programs previously run under Hildy & Dimitri’s consulting firm became programs of Creating the Future. The pair stopped consulting entirely, putting all their emphasis into teaching and bringing people together.

Participants in the #NPCons were now enjoying the chats so much, they requested a space where they could connect throughout the month, between chats.

The Facebook Community for Community Benefit Consultants was born. From 2011 to the present, a small group of volunteer facilitators has been guiding the individuals in that community, modeling what it looks like to bring out the best in others and reach for what is possible. We are all deeply grateful to Mary Cahalane, Susan Detwiler, Rebecca Henderson, Jacque Ahrenberg, and Marc Pitman for taking on that role with such grace.


All Creating the Future programs began to focus on creating more ripples, aimed at the evaluation of our mission at the end of 2026 (ten year clock began January 2017).

For example, after 7 years teaching consultants in immersion courses, the immersion curriculum grew into an online curriculum of 5 separate courses, 3 months apiece. No longer limited to consultants, our courses became available for anyone wishing to create systems change, to bring out the best in themselves and others. 

That program scale-up effort included scaling the Facebook Community for Community Benefit Consultants, to help each member of that group to bring out the best in themselves and the many people with whom they interact.  

2019 & beyond

Having completed a significant proof of concept period, Creating the Future is focused on creating as many ripples of our mission as possible, all around the world. The greater the number of people who know what it takes to create systems change via the questions they ask, the better the chance of creating a world that works for all of us.

To that end, this is a time of significant expansion. And because we see consultants as the "teachers" in the social change arena, this expansion will be of particular interest to consultants, as we seek to more broadly distribute our education offerings so that anyone, anywhere, can teach what it takes to create a more humane world.