Reflections from a Semifinalist: Girls Write Now

Girls Write Now is one of ten organizations selected as a semifinalist for the 2015 New York Community Trust Nonprofit Excellence Awards.

attends the Girls Write Now Awards honoring Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Pamela Paul and Juju Chang at Tribeca 360 on May 19, 2015 in New York City.

By Maya Nussbaum, Founder & Executive Director, Girls Write Now
 

“To write is to bring an inner voice into the outer world, to believe that our thoughts are worth entering the thinking of others. What could be a better path to self-valuing than that? In giving young women in the five boroughs this biggest of all gifts, Girls Write Now is giving the rest of us the gift of those girls.” — Gloria Steinem

Girls Write Now has participated in the Excellence Awards for the past three years. Over that time, the application has provided the organization with a path to self-valuing not unlike the one we offer our young writers and our community at large. This year the application overlapped with our strategic plan, mutually reinforcing both processes at a critical juncture. Our plan was grounded in our core principle of giving voice and “value” to the full community. Over the course of a year, we engaged 100+ internal and external stakeholders in intensive meetings and conversation to refresh our mission statement, to develop strategic priorities that expand, enhance, and extend our services in support of that mission, and to set organizational commitments focused on the operational infrastructure needed to make them achievable.

The thinking our community had already been doing through the application process lay the foundation for our strategic planning, and this year the application served as a check and an affirmation for each department’s significant value. Are we utilizing best practices across all areas of management to reach our goals? Do we have the necessary human capital and infrastructure? How can we evolve our communications strategy to simultaneously achieve program and fundraising targets? It was heartening to see the progress we’ve made in all areas over the past three years. But we also saw a pattern in our challenges: they all depended on maintaining that delicate balance between our grassroots volunteer model and the professionalization needed to achieve mission-based growth.

From brainstorming to editing, the application enabled us to deconstruct then reconstruct all of our services and processes to identify where we achieve economies of scale with the most innovative solutions for the best outcomes. We are grateful for the opportunity The Excellence Awards has given us to exercise the expertise and imagination of our staff, board and volunteers.

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