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Allowance for Good

Allowance for Good (AfG) is a network of Chicagoland teens ages 13 to 18 that partner together to learn about philanthropy and become global agents of change.  The organization develops the rising generations of philanthropic leaders in the area who cultivate global citizenship and empower others around the world to achieve their full potential.

What they sought

Ready to grow and move out of their initial stage of life, AfG approached the Spectrum team to analyze their organizational sustainability for growth.  With many programs in place and a growing client base, “we were at a stage where we needed to take a deep look at our past, present and future,” recalls Aimee Long, Senior Director of External Relations for the organization.  Aimee and AfG’s Executive Director then put together a task force of senior leadership, board members and volunteers while Spectrum consultant Steve Strang designed a process to facilitate the analysis of Allowance for Good’s current market and their strategic direction for the future.

What Spectrum Provided

Spectrum worked with the task force to collectively identify Allowance for Good’s long-term goals and focus their energy around maximizing the short and long-term impact while ensuring their students and the organization could continue offering substantial impact in the greater community for a long time to come.  “Steve worked closely with our entire committee, comprised of Board, parents, students and staff.  He listened to all and was very good at keeping us on track (as we have a tendency to delve deep into details!)” says Long.

Allowance for Good’s Board of Directors understood the desired outcomes for their programs, but they hadn’t thought about how those outcomes translated into their overall desired impact.  To meet this need, Spectrum worked with the task force to articulate a statement of intended impact – a specific statement describing what the organization will accomplish and how it will be measured.  Allowance for Good’s statement of intended impact is as follows:

“Each year, Allowance for Good leads programming for teens focused on:

  • Exposure to the concepts of philanthropy both locally and globally
  • Education around becoming a philanthropic leader
  • Global engagement to become a lifelong global agent of change.”

With their statement of intended impact articulated, Spectrum introduced the organization to the matrix map as a tool to kick-start a conversation around what would need to happen to achieve that impact.  The matrix map is a visual representation of how an organization’s business lines work together to create impact and financial viability.

Long recalls, “The matrix map, in particular, was a powerful visual tool for understanding where we need to focus.  It resonated particularly well with our Board.”

Results

Following several facilitated discussions around the organization’s customized matrix map and the development of the strategic priorities above, the task force developed specific, measurable goals for their future: building a sustainable business model to continue offering impact in the community, partnering with other organizations to maximize impact, and scaling their services for growth.  Long says the process was very successful.  Allowance for Good had reached a point where they needed guidance to ensure their sustainability for the future.  Many changes needed to occur for AfG to reach their intended impact.  With Spectrum’s support, the organization identified the following priorities:

  1. First, they’d have to decrease programs that offered lower impact with a higher cost than others.
  2. Second, they’d have to transition their focus away from individual students to widespread partnerships in the community, where the work of their students would see greater results and gather potentially greater support.  AfG will always work with students, but if they can find three new partners in the same amount of time it takes to find three new participants, their impact will increase dramatically.

With their strategic priorities in place, AfG has already made progress towards each goal and they were eager to share that news with their community. Long says, “this process was a rich experience for us all, and we are hard at work ensuring the success of Allowance for Good for years to come! We are truly grateful for Steve’s guidance and support.”