Social entrepreneurship in a canoe

Posted by on Jun 30, 2015 in social entrepreneurship | 0 comments

(Written by Keith Campbell) 

In my last post, I shared part of my experience on a recent canoe outing on the Missouri River on the border of the Santee Sioux reservation in northern Nebraska. I would like to share another idea that I have been reflecting on from that experience.

As I mentioned in the last post, the canoe trip was with some youth in a mentoring program on the reservation called Young Braves. The purpose of the program is to help the kids stay on a healthy path in life, and our approach is very subtle – we simply spend time with them in nature, working on nature crafts and education.

After I wrote my last post, I was thinking about how “rare” the experience was with the one youth who shared my canoe. The rarity was how peaceful things were, in contrast to how the kids run around talking, laughing, and sometimes yelling when we are camping. When camping, we leaders often have to “herd” the kids in the direction of the next planned activity. Sometimes, we find that our planned activity just won’t work. For example, if they have so much energy in them that they can’t sit still, we leaders will adapt and find another activity that fits their energized condition.

But in the canoe, something else happened. There was peace. Unusual.

The youth in my canoe was one of my favorites. He was 5 years old when he started attending the Young Braves outings, and he is now 12. He is a kick, sometimes a little wild, which I like. What happened is that after we hit the water, we got caught up on life, and then there was the beautiful peacefulness and relative silence of being on the water. But every now and then, one of us would say something, and we would converse.

What hit me a couple days ago as I was reflecting on the experience is that a canoe is a wonderful place for a conversation with a young person. They are a captive, but they don’t know it because they are having fun. They can’t run around and yell with their friends when in a canoe. What an opportunity to “really communicate.”

I want to use his name, but I won’t…I’ll call him Mike. I had no conversational agenda on that canoe trip. I was there just to have fun with the kids. But conversation did occur, nothing heavy, just easy talk. I asked him about his summer, and he told me about the fun he is having. I often ask him where he is going to college, but I didn’t this time. I’ll ask again in a month or so. I like to keep that idea in his mind.

But 2 events stand out in my mind. One is that when he saw something interesting, he would share that with me. For example, he would see a turtle on a log, and he would point it out to me. I had the opportunity to honestly share that he has “very good eyes,” that he sees things before most other people would see them. Then he really started looking to point out other things he saw. He truly is good, and I honestly continued sharing how impressed I was. There is no question that he felt good about this.

The second event happened when we stopped to let another canoe catch up with us. Mike and I were walking on a sand bar, and there was a small and shallow inlet (about five yards wide and about a foot deep) that went toward land and became more shallow before it ended. I told him that this is the perfect situation for starting a “fish drive” in a survival situation, to drive any fish in the small inlet toward the end, and then spear them. So without spears, and with no expectation of finding fish in this little inlet, we started the drive. There was a big carp there, and Mike was able to catch it. He then released it unharmed.

This provided an opportunity for me to “brag” on Mike when the canoes were close enough together to talk. Reporting honestly on the events, I was able to figuratively give Mike some big pats on his back. Especially since Young Braves is partly devoted to teaching traditional survival techniques, Mike’s ability to catch a big carp was very significant.

When I was canoeing with Mike, I didn’t think about how different the time was, compared to our campouts. But I see it now. What a special time that was.

Small bits of time in a mentoring program, when people are just having fun, can sometimes have special meaning. In addition to having a blast with the kids, I hope I helped this young man feel good about himself. I think I did.

Thank you for reading our small blog.

Best regards. – Keith

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Report on my work with Nebraska youth

Posted by on Jun 24, 2015 in social entrepreneurship | 0 comments

(Written by Keith Campbell)

I am involved in a small social entrepreneurship project that I occasionally mention on this blog site, and I would like to file a short report.

I just returned from a trip to the Santee Sioux reservation in northern Nebraska. The reservation is right across the Missouri River from South Dakota, and I had an exciting time in a canoe on that river. I was hanging out with some Santee Sioux kids and leaders of a youth group named Young Braves. We normally camp and work on wilderness survival skills, but this trip was devoted to canoeing.

One canoe tipped over, but thankfully it was not mine. Two Young Braves tried to switch seating positions in the front of a canoe while on the water, and it didn’t work very well. My good friend, Butch, the main leader of the youth group, got dumped in water about 2 feet deep. Everyone was wearing life jackets, and nobody was injured. That canoe was behind mine a bit, and I didn’t get to see the tip-over. I am so disappointed! With a big grin on my face, I later told Butch how much I wish I could have seen his eyes before he went in.

It is interesting that sometimes just having fun with young people can be meaningful. What we are trying to do through this youth program is to help participating Santee youth feel good about themselves and their Santee heritage. We are trying to help the kids be strong and stay on a healthy path in life. We try to have activities that in some way relate to the heritage of the Santee. Usually, we are camping and building firebows, fish traps, or snowshoes. But canoeing relates to the Santee also, since they were forcibly removed from central Minnesota lake country in the 1860s.

Next summer, we might take the kids up to Minnesota to canoe, probably in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area up north. That trip would involve paddling through several lakes and carrying canoes and gear (portaging) from lake to lake. It is an absolutely fantastic experience for anyone who enjoys the outdoors. Practicing the art of canoeing, and not tipping over, close to home are important steps before that bigger adventure.

So that is my report – a few hours doing a little thing to help a few kids in a small way.

Thank you for reading our small blog.

Best regards. – Keith

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A quick note on beauty and social entrepreneurship

Posted by on Jun 18, 2015 in social entrepreneurship | 0 comments

 (Written by Keith Campbell)

When I read books in my personal life, I am often seeking something. I picked up a book yesterday that I started reading a few years ago. I selected this book because I want to be able to better appreciate the simple things around me. I feel that I am speeding through my days without “seeing” all the beauty around me. The title of the book is Beauty: Rediscovering the True Sources of Compassion, Serenity, and Hope. The author is John O’Donohue. O’Donohue is from Ireland, and when he was alive, he partially represented a traditional Celtic world view. I have difficulty grasping all that I read from him, but I am intrigued by the ideas I can comprehend.

I have been raised in a modern society, and my society has created “edges” on my way of looking at life. One of these edges is my perceived need to define important terms if they are to be fully discussed. In this book on beauty, O’Donohue refuses to define beauty. He says it can’t be defined.

This really irritates me.

But then I remember why I am reading this book. I am trying to become a somewhat different person. I am trying to soften my edges and see more of what is around me as I speed through life. It is like O’Donohue wants me to “feel” my way through his book, rather than “think” my way through it. I’m not used to that. I speculate that he also wants me to much more feel my way through life than I am currently doing. I’m interested in trying to do that.

The above does not directly relate to social entrepreneurship, but I want to share my combined frustration and fascination with O’Donohue’s approach. I share this partly because it feels good to confess this problem, and partly because some readers might be similar to me, and might benefit from a softer and more subtle viewing of the beauty around us that we take for granted.

So finally, I want to share how beauty and social entrepreneurship are related. This won’t sound like an earth-shattering point, but I find special meaning here. Projects created to assist people in need represent beauty. O’Donohue writes, “Wherever there is tenderness, care and kindness, there is beauty.”

What is the definition of beauty? I don’t know. But the caring and assistance we direct toward people in need is beauty.

Thank you for reading our small blog.

Best regards. – Keith

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Grant Proposals – Dissemination

Posted by on Jun 10, 2015 in grant writing, social entrepreneurship | 0 comments

(Written by Keith Campbell)

I am nearing the end of my discussion of parts of grant proposals. After this post, I have only one other note to you for strengthening your grant proposals. I hope some of my suggestions are helpful!

In previous posts, I shared some of my thoughts on the following parts of a grant proposal.

1. Title Page
2. Abstract
3. Statement of Need
4. Goal
5.
Objectives
6. Procedures
7. The Budget
8. Qualifications
9. Evaluation
10. Sustainability

I would now like to discuss the following:

11. Dissemination

In this section of our proposal, we should explain how we plan to share the results of our project after the grant funding has ended. The experiences we have had through a grant-funded project to help others in need are probably valuable to some other organizations that seek to help similar people in need. Our dissemination section of the proposal explains what sources we will use to try to share what we learned with what other types of organizations.

Our experiences from the project include problems we had, as well as successes. Sometimes, we learn as much from difficulties experienced as we learn when our project goes as planned. Thus, if we feel comfortable sharing difficulties experienced (as well as the success), this information might be very helpful to other organizations working with similar clients.

Here are a few suggestions for places to use for dissemination.

1. Web sites
2. Newsletters
3. Local newspaper press releases
4. Local radio press releases
5. Presentations at professional conferences
6. Publications in professional journals
7. Emails to professional colleagues

In all attempts to “spread the word” about our project, we should be sure to explain that the project was funded by a grant from ________ (insert the name of the funding source here). Many funding sources like the publicity for their organization provided by organizations they fund.

Thank you for reading our small blog.

Best regards. – Keith

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Grant Proposals – Sustainability

Posted by on Jun 3, 2015 in grant writing, social entrepreneurship | 0 comments

(Written by Keith Campbell)

I would like to resume discussion of parts of proposals, with the hope that one or two ideas might help you write stronger proposals to fund projects to assist people in need. I am sharing ideas I have learned from over 30 years of teaching grant proposal writing and writing grant proposals. These are some of the ideas I cover in my university courses.

In previous posts, I shared some of my thoughts on the following parts of a grant proposal.

1. Title Page
2. Abstract
3. Statement of Need
4. Goal
5. Objectives
6. Procedures
7. The Budget
8. Qualifications
9. Evaluation

I would now like to discuss the following:

10. Sustainability

In the context of grant proposal writing, sustainability refers to the plans to continue the proposed project after grant funds end. For a project that is planned to exist for only a year or less, there is no need to include this section in your proposal. Some projects involve only a quick intervention, and then there is no need for them to continue. But for most projects to help others in need, there is value in continuing the project even after grant funding ends.

One issue raised here is the length of time that grants are given. What I am familiar with through my work is grants being given for from one to three years. I am aware of no funding source that plans to fund a project forever. In rare cases, a nonprofit and a funding source will build a very close relationship in which the funding source continues to fund a project over several years through re-applications by the nonprofit, but we should not plan on finding this ideal situation.

Most funding sources seek to spread “good” through their grants, and they seem to view their grants as seed money. They want to widely spread their seeds, with the hope that each will grow into a mature plant – the projects we start to help people in need. Funding sources want to help get worthy projects started, and then they expect the applicant agencies to find ways to continue the project after grant funding ends. This is what is meant by sustainability.

So in our sustainability section in our grant proposal, we should explain how, if the grant proposal is funded and our planned project is started, we plan to continue the project after the grant ends. This is a substantial responsibility. I would like to share some ideas for you to consider.

1. Other grants – This is a weak idea, since most grants are difficult to obtain, and this is unlikely. I suggest that you not use this idea in your sustainability section.

2. The applicant agency agreeing to provide continuing funding – A letter of commitment is needed within the grant proposal.

3. Community businesses agreeing to provide money to continue the project – A letter of commitment is needed within the grant proposal.

4. Fund raising projects – Explain the specific projects, and provide details on money expected to be generated.

5. Fees being charged to clients to continue the project – Explain fees to be charged, how the clients can afford the fees, and the amount of money expected to be generated.

6. Other innovative ideas you may have!

From the reviewing of grant proposals I have done for the Federal government, I have observed that even in otherwise strong proposals, the sustainability section is usually weak. Having a strong sustainability section in our proposal (documenting that money is committed to continue the project) can help a proposal be funded in a very competitive review situation.

Thank you for reading our small blog.

Best regards. – Keith

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Leading Leaders: Transformational Leadership

Posted by on May 27, 2015 in non profit organization, social entrepreneurship | 0 comments

(Written by Kevin Wilson)

Good leadership is essential for any business: social or otherwise. For those of you reading this, you might have the desire to start your own social enterprise or take a leadership role in one already established. There are different kinds of leadership out there and no doubt most of you have probably experienced one or more of them.

For this discussion I would like to talk about transformational leadership. This involves the concept of servant leader. Some of you might be familiar with this concept. In the transformational leadership model, leaders also known as servant leaders, empower employees by uniting them in a common goal. Leaders turn their employees into leaders by cultivating in them good leadership qualities such as good communication and problem solving skills as well as empathy and the ability to handle and create change (Cragg, Spurgeon, 2007). There are more components to transformational leadership, but for this discussion I would like to talk about the possible positive affects this type of leadership can have on an organization.

From my own experience working with a company that put transformational leadership into practice, I saw many positive affects. When leadership qualities and expectations were placed on employees, there were noticeable changes. Employees seemed to feel better about the job. This definitely increased performance for our department. Staff also felt the liberty to expand upon and improve the job they were doing: looking for better and more efficient ways to do things. This type of leadership also seemed to foster creativity, as staff had the liberty to be creative in the job they were doing.

Research has also indicated success when using the transformational leadership model. A 2013 study titled Impact of Transformational Leadership through Organizational Development Intervention on Employee Engagement and Firm Performance: A Case Study, concluded that using the transformational leadership model inspired employees to work harder, improving the overall performance of the organization. (Tonvongval, 2013) The model empowered employees, using transformational leadership techniques, to improve their work.

There are problems that could arise with this model too and we can’t forget about them. An organization would definitely have to hire the right type of individual with the desire and ability to become a leader. An organization would also have to have good leaders already in place, with the experience and desire to empower others to be leaders.

In conclusion, the reason I wanted to discuss this type of leadership is because I think it can be beneficial, especially for social enterprises and non-profit organizations. Often, NPOs do not have enough funding to have one person who can oversee every aspect of the organization. For these organizations it would be beneficial to create an environment where there are many leaders sharing in the vision and mission of the organization.

Kevin Wilson
Capella University Doctoral Student

 

 

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Nonprofit collaboration

Posted by on May 21, 2015 in non profit organization, social entrepreneurship | 0 comments

(Written by Keith Campbell)

I am pausing from my discussion of how to write parts of a grant proposal to discuss a few other issues.

I recently heard of a beautiful project that brings together refugees and bicycles. The project provides free bicycles to refugees in Savannah, Georgia. This project involves collaboration between Lutheran Services of Georgia (that assists refugees in the area), and the Savannah Bicycle Campaign (that promotes bicycle riding in the Savannah area).

To me, refugees have always been a compelling category of people in need. For about two years, on an occasional basis, I worked with Hmong and Somali refugees in Saint Paul, Minnesota. I did some free grant proposal writing and strategic planning. Helping people who fled another country and who sought to start a new life was extremely rewarding work to me.

The Hmong with which I worked fled mainly Laos following the Vietnam War. One reason they fled Laos was because many Hmong helped the U.S. during the Vietnam War. Most of them spent years/decades in relocation camps in Thailand before they were able to migrate to the U.S.

The Somalis with which I worked fled Somalia because of the political unrest there. Several of them told me they wanted to return to their home country as soon as stability is established. I got the impression that some of these Somali refugees were highly successful people in Somalia before they had to flee.

The Georgia refugee bicycle project that I mentioned earlier seems to be a good “wedding” of two initiatives by two nonprofits. The Lutheran Services of Georgia helps refugees become established and productive members of their new society, while the Savannah Bicycle Campaign simply seeks to support cycling within the city. One need of newly arrived refugees with little money is transportation to work. This is why the free bikes offered by the Savannah Bicycle Campaign become so important to the refugees.

It is fascinating that the Savannah Bicycle Campaign had no intention of helping refugees – they simply wanted to promote bicycle riding in their city. But the role they are playing in helping local refugees is significant. This must be a special reward for people involved in the Savannah Bicycle Campaign.

This simple collaborative project makes me think more about collaboration between nonprofits. Although the core purposes of two nonprofits may be very different, on the fringes of each nonprofit there may be exciting opportunities for collaboration.

So I wonder what opportunities are being missed. What fringes of existing nonprofits are not being exploited because nobody has thought of the possible collaboration? In your community, I wonder if there are missed opportunities. Sometimes, bringing two previously separate nonprofits together may become a highly innovative act.

Thank you for reading our small blog.

Best regards. – Keith

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