“Innovation” is one of those words that is used too often and means something different for every person. That aside, we are all aware that nonprofits, just like our counterparts in business, need to continually explore and adopt new approaches and ways of doing business. We are also keenly aware of the consuming nature of mission-driven work, the absence of capital to explore innovative practices, and the complexities of managing change in the workplace. All of these are real challenges to innovation within the nonprofit sector.
To best equip Montana’s nonprofit sector’s ability to innovate, and to bring a clear Montana-flavor to the concept of innovation, MNA is launching its Nonprofit Innovation Lab (Learn, Adapt, Breakthrough). The Lab, created with generous leadership funding from Headwaters Foundation, will serve as a nucleus for researching, developing, and deploying innovative products and creative processes that tangibly increase the efficiency and/or productivity of nonprofit administrative functions. In that role, the Lab will serve as a facilitator of communication, collaboration, and co-creation of ideas within and between Montana’s nonprofit organizations.
“To me, the most exciting aspect of the Lab is that it will be driven by the ideas and inputs of those who know best what challenges nonprofits are facing – Montana’s frontline nonprofit leaders,” says MNA’s Executive Director, Liz Moore. “The Innovation Lab is focused entirely on working collaboratively to improve processes, systems, and administrative functions that free up or generate resources which can then be channeled into mission impact.”
To lead the Nonprofit Innovation Lab, MNA has hired Adam Jespersen as the Director of Nonprofit Innovation. Adam comes to MNA with a decade of experience in nonprofit leadership and management, most recently serving as the Chief Operating Officer for Intermountain. Adam grew up in rural Montana, has a Bachelor of Arts from Carroll College, and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Montana.
“I am absolutely thrilled to come alongside those that are doing such great work across Montana to help bring clarity around the most common pain points we are seeing in the nonprofit sector and then find solutions that exponentially increase an organization’s community impact,” said Jespersen.
To launch and establish the effectiveness of the Lab, MNA will be piloting its innovation efforts in the western fifteen counties of Montana. The first phase of the initiative includes a comprehensive listening plan that will extend through the summer and into fall 2019. Those conversations will drive the formation of pilot cohort groups formed around common priorities.
“Done well, innovation as a team sport brings together the collective voice of many to create something that couldn’t be done with just a few,” said Jespersen. “We at MNA don’t have the answers. What we have is capacity to listen, go back and do our research, and come back with solutions that work, can be readily implemented, and have enough of a payoff that nonprofits push through the natural barriers to change in order to get to real results. It’s a partnership.”
Nonprofits interested in learning more can contact Adam at 406-449-3717 or [email protected].