Spotlight Series #1 … Bellis

As part of my regular blog updates, I’m going to add a Spotlight Series highlighting nonprofit organizations I am working with, what are the key problems they are trying to solve and how I am uniquely helping them in their mission.  Bellis is our 1st featured organization in the Spotlight Series!!  Look for more of these in the coming weeks AND, if you are interested in other project work I’m engaged in, check out my Causes section in this blog.

Bellis is an adoption education and support nonprofit. I won’t go into the details of our programing, history or financials as you can read all about that on our cool new website BUT … I do want to talk about…
~ What problem are trying to solve?

~ What is my role in helping support this organization?

PROBLEM STATEMENT–  The bottom line is, while adoption is becoming much more widely accepted, involves much more choice than ever before and has great resources for those engaged IN the adoption process, unfortunately, common language and understanding of adoption has lagged. This causes misunderstanding which leads to shame.  Who hasn’t heard these questions/terms before?

~ Why did your real mom give you up?

~ How much did you cost?

~ But they aren’t your REAL parents?

~ What a wonderful/loving/sacrifice/etc move to take in someone else’s baby!

I could go on and on. Imagine how these questions feel as an adoptive person (especially a child!), adoptive parent and birth parent? I know they automatically put me on the defensive to have to educate (patiently) the true, modern nature of adoption.  Bellis is aiming to change the language of adoption OUTSIDE the immediately impacted parties.

MY ROLE – Bellis is a small but mighty nonprofit with just 1.4 FTE and a deep well of volunteer support. I’ve been on a mission to get a more stable team in place to operate efficiently and effectively through …

~ Board Members – In 2015, we had a near full turn over of board members due to term limits and life events.  This took us from a mature board of  11 down to a skeletal board of 4.  In 2016 we built back up to 9 members and I have helped recruit, interview, onboard and mentor 6 of those new members.  The current board is highly engaged, passionate and has amazing ideas!

~ Skill Based Volunteers – Part of Bellis’s strength is our deep volunteer history, we have over 100 school panel volunteers that go into schools to share their adoption stories with 4,000+ students/year.  However, it felt redundant to tap into this group for our operational needs so I set out to build out our probono/skill based volunteer base. We have been blessed with long term, probono support in our legal, accounting, tax and creative marketing, I wanted to extend that into event management, database management, donor identification and fundraising innovation. I’m really excited to say we now have an amazing group of 7 dedicated volunteers that are covering all of the above.  This is freeing up our Executive Director and President to find/solicit/groom new sources of support.  Yes!!

~ Community Outreach – While we are respected inside the adoption community (and field referrals for support/help weekly) we haven’t expanded our reach to our nonprofit partners.  I’ve been using my networking to talk about our work with foster care agencies, human services organizations and other nonprofit leaders. This has led to some amazing sharing of approaches to funding, training, communication and marketing. In fact, our Executive Director will be attending her 1st “Best Leadership Retreat” event with other nonprofit leaders in the Twin Cities in May.  We also hosted a call with 5 foster care agencies to ensure we are using appropriate foster care language in our presentations. Finally, we are parting on a joint funding request to take our outreach and message to the next level with an innovative health services organization.  I love sharing what we do and learning from others.

I am so passionate about Bellis and can’t wait to see where this momentum takes us!