Discovering MErcy carries out its mission from a beautiful and tranquil home in Northeastern Pennsylvania, as a nonprofit specializing in ministry, education, and support to male and female survivors of developmental trauma from human trafficking and severe childhood abuse, including physical, sexual, mental, and verbal abuse. In 2017 Discovering Mercy began transitioning from a for-profit to nonprofit.
“We became a PANO member in 2017, using many of the Standards for Excellence educational resource packets to guide us in establishing our organization as a nonprofit,” explained Discovering MErcy’s Executive Director, Sharon Shipwash. Just a year later, with many policies drafted and other documentation ready to be implemented, Sharon and her board of directors took a step back. “How can we ensure we are going about this the right way the first time around? Now that we have all these policies in place, what can we do to promote widespread understanding of roles and responsibilities among members of our leadership team?”, they asked themselves. Then, Sharon found herself asking the same questions of PANO. PANO’s response? “That’s what our Consultant Collaborative is for!” And the rest, as they say, is history.
Within a few days, PANO connected Sharon with Dr. Janet McNally of PANO’s Consultant Collaborative for help in reviewing Discovering MErcy’s compensation philosophy and structure, job descriptions, and to offer ideas and ways of thinking about managing job performance in a highly interdependent organization.
Discovering MErcy was fortunate to already be working with a consultant who understood the organization and its mission very well and had developed policies and documentation to a great degree. Dr. McNally’s role was to bring a Human Resources perspective to this work. One of her first suggestions was to think about applying the concept of broadbanding to the compensation structure in order to allow the organization more flexibility in assigning and carrying out work and developing employees. She also introduced a “management by objectives” approach to performance management to encourage a good alignment of objectives from the Board, through the Executive Director and staff. Dr. McNally felt it was especially important to think through these concepts at the outset, as the organization plans to grow in the future. As Sharon put it, “She gave us important tools for the beginning stages of growth for Discovering MErcy. I am certain that as we move forward in growth and need we will be connecting with PANO and Dr. McNally in the future to continue drawing on the depth of their knowledge, insight, and wisdom”.
Now, to get the leadership team all on the same page and moving in the same direction, Dr. McNally met with the board and staff to discuss the roles and responsibilities of the board, especially as they relate to the HR functions described above. “Not only did Dr. McNally provide HR expertise but she used her experiences as a board member in her examples during the workshop”, Sharon reflected. “Many of our board members are new to their position and found her experiences helpful and enlightening on how other boards function. Now we all understand how important it is to have a strong and respectful partnership between the board and the executive director for a nonprofit to function effectively.”
Dr. McNally has already observed some positive changes as a result of this engagement. The board and staff felt that they were “getting off on the right foot” together as a nonprofit with a good understanding of each other’s roles and understanding the organizational structures that support day-to-day performance. Dr. McNally hopes this work has a lasting impact on board and staff, and ultimately and most importantly, on the individuals who are served by Discovering MErcy. “It is rewarding to me to be able to bring my HR and nonprofit background through PANO to an organization like Discovering MErcy that provides such necessary and valuable services to their clients,” said Dr. McNally.
At PANO, we believe that together we can create something better than any single organization can build separately. The PANO Consultant Collaborative connects nonprofit organizations with experienced, like-minded professional consultants to increase efficacy and impact through collaborative, needs-based counsel. Each consultant brings a unique experience, specialization, and abilities to the group, which makes for a diverse and innovative approach to each project.
If your organization is looking for a consultant to help take your mission to the next level, from HR document review to strategic planning and everything in between, check out PANO’s Consultant Collaborative!