Meet a Finalist: Young Playwrights’ Theater
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 Young Playwrights’ Theater
Young Playwrights’ Theater (YPT) teaches students to express themselves clearly and creatively through the art of playwriting. Through interactive in-school and after-school programs, YPT activates student learning and inspires students to understand the power of language and realize their potential as both individuals and artists. Each year, YPT helps more than 1,500 students discover the power of their own voices and stories, and, in turn, provides more than 6,000 community audience members with a window into students' lives, their dreams, their fears - and their hopes for the future. YPT staff includes 6 full-time and 1 part-time employee with support from 30 volunteers annually. The organization’s budget size is approximately $635,000.
Q & A with Post Award Finalist Young Playwrights’ Theater
What does this award mean for you and your organization?
YPT is a small, innovative organization. We have grown in leaps and bounds over the past seventeen years and worked hard to build strong internal controls and processes to manage our programs, people and finances. Winning the Washington Post Award for Excellence in Nonprofit Management would validate the investment we’ve made in smart, strategic growth of our programs and processes.
Winning the award would also help YPT raise our local and national profile at a critical time in our organizational development. In the coming year fiscal year, YPT will take the next big step in our organizational growth. With support from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities UPSTART capacity building grant, we will begin publishing and nationally disseminating our program model throughout the nation, exposing students across the country to deep and effective arts learning opportunities. Winning the Washington Post Award and accompanying grant would allow us to celebrate and share our management best practices along with our program model, raising local and national awareness for our organization and building even greater support for our mission.
What have you learned through the application process for The Washington Post Award for Excellence in Nonprofit Management?
The Washington Post Award application process has provided the YPT staff and board with an invaluable opportunity to inventory, examine and celebrate YPT’s best practices in nonprofit management. We have achieved exponential organizational growth over seventeen years, and the application process provided us with the perfect opportunity to pause and reflect on the value of the internal processes and tools we have developed to support our programmatic expansion.
What advice would you offer for other nonprofit leaders/organizations striving for excellence in nonprofit management?
Young Playwrights’ Theater is a small organization with a huge community impact. Over the past seventeen years we have learned that small organizations especially must practice strong management of their programs, people, finances and internal processes in order to successfully achieve their mission.
We offer the following advice to other organizations striving for excellence in nonprofit management:
Strong management and successful mission delivery are interrelated. You cannot have one without the other. Ensure that you have a focused, clearly articulated mission, vision and values statement that your internal and external stakeholders understand and embrace. Your core values should be evident not only in your program delivery, but also in your management practices. For example, if your goal is to inspire students to realize their potential as individuals and artists, your staff and volunteers must feel inspired and engaged in order to deliver on this mission. In order to feel inspired and engaged, they need to understand their jobs, have the training and support needed to do those jobs well and be engaged in articulating how those jobs are done, so they can feel ownership of what they do.
Invest in your people, and provide employees and volunteers at all levels of the organization with a meaningful place at the table. Give them the space they need to innovate and deeply impact the delivery of your mission. Cultivate careful relationships with your external stakeholders – your constituents, supporters and neighbors. Grow and nurture a strong community of support for the people you serve.
Stay focused like a laser on ensuring that you are using funds to impact your mission, and that funders and donors clearly understand that their money directly supports your program delivery rather than greater overhead or indirect costs. Strive to invest at least 80% of your funds directly into mission delivery.
Maintain a strong strategic plan and assess and evaluate your work on all levels – from staff evaluations, to program evaluations, to internal assessments of your financial and risk management systems. Gauge how well you are delivering your mission, growing your people and spending your funds. Work toward tangible outcomes, and use assessment results to make adjustments to your management practices and program delivery to ensure you are doing the best possible work for your community. Communicate evaluation results to internal and external stakeholders to demonstrate your impact and deepen their trust and investment in your mission.
Learn more about Young Playwrights’ Theater: