Volunteerism is anything but new to our community; for years, Minnesota has had among the highest volunteer rates of any state in the country. What’s more, like any other organization, a nonprofit can benefit greatly from in-kind support from external partners. All of which is why Constellation was surprised to encounter skepticism from our nonprofit partners when we began planning a capacity-building program.
This initial hesitation was not rooted in a lack of interest for authentic external partnerships, but instead in experiences navigating volunteer programs that prioritized donor interests over nonprofit needs, lacked deliverable results, failed to honor the cultural perspectives and subject-matter expertise of nonprofit leaders, and disrupted core operations with ancillary one-time activities instead of amplifying operational capacity through customized longer-term engagements.
It became clear that the status quo wasn’t working, so we set out to build something different. And the Beyond Dollars program was born.
With clear principles and high expectations for participating volunteers, Beyond Dollars now serves as a powerful opportunity broker between highly-skilled professionals looking to contribute their talents to our community and deeply-deserving social innovators dedicated to eradicating poverty. And the results have been astounding, both in terms of the capacity being built and the connections being forged. We have seen cultural differences be reframed. We have seen grantees gain new donors and board members. We have seen consistent appreciation for the authentic partnerships that Beyond Dollars allows and the leadership opportunities that it provides.
At Constellation, we are committed to doing things effectively and authentically, which can mean doing things differently. Beyond Dollars is an extension of this thinking, a manifestation of our commitment to walk in true partnership with our grantees, and another example of what is possible when we use all of our collective tools and talents to rethink impact in the Twin Cities.