Lessons from our Work with Non-Profits: A Panelist’s Perspective

In leading philanthropy at North Highland, I have the opportunity to champion our firm’s commitment to economic empowerment every day. With offices in 23 markets across the U.S. and the U.K., I collaborate with our teams to advance economic mobility for vulnerable communities. Our headquarters and our hometown, Atlanta, has its share of economic challenges and obstacles to mobility. However, we are helping to advance the cause through our work with Atlanta CareerRise to shine a light – objective data analysis – on the performance of workforce development organizations in the metro region.

At the launch of the report, I joined a panel to discuss the key findings from the report and share perspectives about the study and how it relates to employers, philanthropy, and workforce development providers. I was joined by panelists from Bank of America, IHG, Annie E. Casey Foundation, and the Urban League of Greater Atlanta.

We were able to take a data-driven approach to evaluate the programs holistically just as we would for any corporate clients. Some crucial points to keep in mind when considering such programs are:

  • Think about the customer journey – many participants of these programs serve may not have access to basic technology such as dependable internet and phones, so it’s important to consider traditional means such as written material to reach potential candidates. Thinking holistically about the experience of job training from the perspective of the participant is crucial. It takes true empathy to design something that can make someone else’s life better. We tell our clients to be intentional in the moments that matter with their customers and we believe non-profits need to do the same. As humans we crave meaning, relationship, and purpose, so it is incumbent on us to provide services that keep those at the forefront.
  • Evaluate these programs as corporate initiatives – ROI, cost per customer, outputs, and outcomes. Even though this was an extremely successful initiative and we were able to show that a lot of things are going right, there are opportunities for improvement. We need to shorten the lead time between completing such studies and acting on the next steps to make these programs better. Such steps could include process optimization (intake, data collection, etc.), best practice sharing across organizations, resource pooling, marketing collective success, and, in some cases, ceasing programs that are underperforming.
  • Form alliances to share resources – many non-profits struggle with raising capital for their initiatives as well as maintaining administrative costs. Forming alliances with similar organizations can help tremendously. Sharing resources and evaluating collective impact can improve the story that is told to donors, lawmakers, and corporations, increasing the chances of securing long-term funding.

North Highland is proud to be involved with the Job Training Programs That Work report. We encourage you to check it out and dive into the data. As a firm, we are committed to bringing the best objective analysis to bear on our clients’ challenges. We also believe that to do this effectively, we must put the human first. We cannot tackle economic empowerment and mobility without understanding those we serve and those we are trying to impact. This journey is only beginning and if you share this passion, please reach out so that we can do this tough work together.