is it a promising opportunity?

Moving from scanning through prioritizing is like going down a funnel. Assessing the potential for success before tackling the urgent challenges and critical problems our community has identified is a critical step in the process of systematic change.

a promising opportunity

Is a way to address one of the critical problems identified that has a good potential for success. The process described below is drawn from a variety of sources collected for Communityworks. For ECF the culmination of the Communityworks impact plan scanning process is to identify: what are the community's most promising opportunities to address the issues of child care, work force development, and land use and protection?

what makes something a promising opportunity?

  • There is broad public desire for a change or result (as identified in the community meetings).
  • The foundation and its advisors have a good understanding of the problem (why are we getting the result we are in the community? What needs to happen to address it? What obstacles stand in the way? How can we remove these obstacles?).
  • There are good ideas for solutions to address the problem (What strategies and efforts could address the obstacles? Which of these are already underway in the community?). 
  • There are key actors interested in these solutions — enlightened political leaders, strong community-based organizations, local governments with good capacity, civic-minded business leaders, etc. — are needed to solve problems (What key actors and organizations are or could be involved? Do they have the interest and capacity to carry out the strategies identified?) You want to build on assets. 
  • The opportunity plays to the community’s strengths. You want to build on assets. 
  • The opportunity takes advantage of an external opportunity (for example, a new government initiative, new foundation funding in this area, a new study that received lots of press coverage on the problem, etc.).

Discussion about the above questions with the board, advisory committee, and key leaders in the community can help reveal promising opportunities.

prioritizing

To narrow down to one or a few priority opportunities the foundation will take on, there are these additional potential screens (among others):

  • The opportunity aligns with the foundation's mission and is supported by its board.
  • The opportunity builds on the foundation's assets.
  • The foundation has the resources to make a difference on this opportunity.
  • There are partners — individuals and/or organizations — who are willing to work with the foundation and have sufficient capacity to make a difference.
  • The opportunity is ripe — now is the right time for action. People are ready to act and believe the strategy can succeed now.
  • Acting on this opportunity would help boost the foundation's presence and profile.
  • The foundation can begin to envision how to make a difference and measure impact.