by Ashley Kasprzak, JVA Consulting
Lambda Community Center (Lambda) has the mission to be a resource center for the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer, Two-Spirit, Same-Gender-Loving, Questioning and Ally (GLBTIQQA) community in northern Colorado through support, education, outreach, advocacy and collaboration.
The organization works to create an inclusive environment that promotes understanding, acceptance and appreciation of issues and culture, while building equal opportunities for GLBTIQQA individuals within the northern Colorado community.
Lambda has held this mission for over 16 years. As a consultant who has been fortunate to work with this organization’s leaders over the last three years, I am reflecting on what skyrocketed the organization in 2009. Skyrocketed is not an exaggeration. Lambda grew its budget by 55 percent and increased the number it served from a few hundred a year to over 1,000 in 2009. What are the factors that made this possible?
Solid support from the Gill Foundation. The Gill Foundation has awarded grant funding to Lambda each year for nine years. In addition, Gill Foundation staff members have provided guidance as Lambda has grown its advocacy efforts. Moreover, the Gill Foundation underwrote the costs of capacity building as Lambda worked with JVA Consulting and LGBT groups statewide. The Gill Foundation is spearheading movement building toward equality in Colorado.
Full-time paid staff and numerous interns.
Engaged governing body. Lambda developed a vision and put forth time and energy to achieve that vision. There was a quorum at each board meeting this year. All current board members made a cash contribution in the last 12 months. All board members participated in fundraising to ensure Lambda’s sustainability.
Supporters have deepened their investments in Lambda. Relationships have been enhanced with many groups, including the GLBT Resource Center at Colorado State University, GLBT Resource Center in Greeley at the University of Northern Colorado, the Colorado Anti-Violence Program, Colorado Progressive Coalition/Action, the Human Relations Commission for the City of Fort Collins, The Center in Denver, Boulder Pride, Boulder County OASIS, University of Denver Center for Multi-Cultural Excellence, Colorado Legal Initiatives Project, and Equal Rights Colorado.
Focus on capacity building. Board and staff were all involved in board development, leadership development, program development and program evaluation. JVA Consulting, The Center in Denver, The Gill Foundation and the Community Resource Center all had a part in Lambda’s organizational growth. Not nearly as much could have been accomplished without this great level of teamwork.
And, a consultant who held her tongue. I naturally cheerlead for those I work with on capacity building. In nearly all cases, board members and executive leaders care a great deal about the cause in which they are involved. Sometimes, though, they dream big and don’t put muscle behind those dreams. Lambda did both. Last February, I facilitated a board retreat, during which time we talked about fund development. The location in Estes Park was gorgeous; the lunchtime fare was yummy and the energy in the room of the lovely cabin was positive. People weren’t over the top with enthusiasm; they were just pleasantly engaged. At that point, not all board members had made a financial contribution to Lambda. Some board members were new and had never engaged in fundraising. After packing up my flip charts and facilitation kit, I hiked down the hill to my car. I took a deep breath and said to myself, “Well, I hope that plan can work.” I honestly thought that increasing the operating budget in 2009 by nearly 50 percent was unrealistic, but I held my tongue. Inside the cabin, I had smiled, nodded and said, “Yes, I believe you can do this.” And, they did! I am so proud of that group.
They have taught me a lot and, I think, have grown to like me as an ally. They introduced me to marching in the Larimer County Fair Parade. They have taught me about advocacy and, most importantly, have proven that hard work brings change! Many, many kudos to Lambda Community Center.
At Lambda’s recent annual membership meeting, there were 28 people jam-packed in a refurbished space made possible by a grant from The Home Depot Foundation. The vibe couldn’t have been better, with a mix of gay, lesbian, trans, queer and heterosexual folks in attendance. Although Lambda recently lost $30,000 in funding from state government budget cuts for tobacco cessation, the future bodes well for this fine organization. Read more about them and their programs at: http://lambdacenter.org.