Meet a Finalist: Byte Back
Leading up to the Best Practices Celebration, each day this week on our blog we are highlighting a finalist for The Washington Post 2012 Award for Excellence in Nonprofit Management.
Meet Post Award Finalist Byte Back
Byte Back’s mission is to improve economic opportunity by providing computer training and employment readiness skills to low-income residents of the Washington Metropolitan area. Byte Back creates an employment pipeline for low-income people which begins with basic computer literacy, includes Microsoft Office and job readiness training, and often culminates in training for industry-recognized Information Technology (IT) certifications. Classes are offered at 19 neighborhood sites accessible by public transportation and reach more than 1,000 annually. Byte Back’s staff includes 10 full-time employees with support from more than 200 volunteers annually. The organization’s budget size is approximately $1.1 million.
Q & A with Post Award Finalist Byte Back
What does this award mean for you and your organization?
Our executive director has attended every Best Practices Celebration for the past seven years and has brought staff along each year since taking the helm of Byte Back. She describes it as a “two-hour crash course in nonprofit management” not to be missed. Being a finalist for The Washington Post Award in 2010 and 2012 is a great honor to us. We feel it is a validation of our efforts, and we feel it carries significant weight for our current and potential nonprofit partners, funders, donors, volunteers and students.
What have you learned through the application process for The Washington Post Award for Excellence in Nonprofit Management?
Byte Back applied two years ago and was a finalist for the award. The process of simply applying was an excellent opportunity for growth. At each stage of the application process, we had about a month to ponder the questions, to think carefully about how we were doing things and how we might do them better. Most of the questions posed were ones we never answered before, as they are not usually found on RFPs. For the two years since we last applied, we put new procedures into practice, many of which came about as a result of our first application. The second round of applications was an opportunity for us to measure our progress and to again wonder how we might do things better.
What advice would you offer for other nonprofit leaders/organizations striving for excellence in nonprofit management?
- Set lofty goals and high standards
- Learning should be a priority at every level of an organization for the organization to improve over time.
- Try to use data whenever making important decisions.
- Invite feedback from all stakeholders as often as possible and be ready to accept criticism and to learn from it.
- Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. As Einstein said, “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”
- Hire the most qualified team you can find, and give them the freedom to spread their wings.
- Assume, but verify.
Learn more about Byte Back: