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Collaboration is More than Techology

Aug. 3, 2018, 2:15 p.m. · 0 comments

By Krista Petty, Community Connector

This might seem strange for a technology company specializing in collaborative software solutions to post, but it’s true. What Simon Solutions and our CharityTracker and Oasis Insight tech solutions provide is a helpful tool, but the tool is only as good and useful as the attitudes and actions of those who use it and lead the charge for collaboration in the local community. I like what Carol Kinsey Goman writes in her 2014 Forbes article “8 Tips for Collaborative Leadership.”

"...collaboration is more than the technology that supports it, and even more than a business strategy aimed at optimizing an organization's experience and expertise. Collaboration is, first and foremost, a change in attitude and behavior of people throughout an organization. Successful collaboration is a human issue." - Carol Kinsey Goman 

In the rest of her article, she outlines those 8 tips simply and beautifully and if you substitute the word “community” for business and organization, you have the recipe for the collective impact leadership many of us are striving to achieve in our cities.

1. Realize that silos can kill your business.

2. Build your collaboration strategy around the "human element."

3. Use collaboration as an organizational change strategy. 

4. Make visioning a team sport. 

5. Utilize diversity in problem solving. 

6. Help people develop relationships.

7. Focus on building trust.

8. Watch your body language.

Read Carol’s entire post here:forbes.com

At Simon Solutions, we love technology. We are geeky that way, BUT we are inspired and driven by the human element. The stories of life-change and creative problem-solving fuel our innovation. Three years ago, Simon Solutions launched our Community Connector initiative, intentionally collecting stories of our network champions across the country. We have been so inspired by our learning, that we launched capacity-building webinars and case studies so everyone could share in the best practices, innovation, and problem-solving together.

As we move into our third year of our community connector initiative, we are excited to bring you more practical ideas, inspirational stories, and education from a variety of experts. We are always looking for way to mix technology with strategy while keeping the human element in clear focus.

Watch for fall 2018 webinar registration coming soon. If you are not on the webinar email list, contact krista@simonsolutions.com. This fall we will explore topics like Policy Change, Social Determinants of Health and Improving Outcomes, and more. You are sure to meet some inspiring leaders with innovative solutions. In the meantime, check out any webinars you missed or watch them again, paying close attention to the human element. simonsolutions.com

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Two New Resource Sites For CharityTracker & Oasis Insight Users!

July 11, 2018, 3:12 p.m. · 0 comments


Simonsolutions.com now contains all case studies, webinars and articles in one place! You'll also find some great articles about the big picture of collaboration and transformation, such as our writing on Transformational Roadmaps.

We have also created a new Help Center for CharityTracker & Oasis Insight users! This site is full of tips, training, and troubleshooting. There are FAQs, Video Tutorials, Training Videos, User Guides and more. You can easily get to the help center from CharityTracker.com or Oasisinsight.com by clicking on Help. Check them out and share the links with your whole network!

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Measuring Outcomes Together

March 13, 2018, 1:02 p.m. · 0 comments


Registration Now Open! Click Here!
What would it look like to launch 2,000 people on the path to self-sufficiency in 2,000 days in your community? United Way of the Piedmont realized that through the Community Investment Process nearly 75% of the resources earmarked for Financial Stability were allocated to the Safety Net services, leaving only 25% to invest in programs that help families acquire and manage resources at the self-sufficient level. Understanding the importance of equally investing in programs on both ends of the spectrum, the Board of the United Way decided to launch the Financial Stability Initiative.

The initiative is led by 25 leaders from all sectors of the community. And yes, their mission is to move 2,000 families on to the path to self-sufficiency. In this webinar, we will explore the keys to self-sufficiency they identified for their community, and how they are overcoming obstacles and innovating new solutions. We will also discuss the partnerships and tools being used to collaborate as a community and see forward movement towards their goals. This includes creating more opportunities for:

--Affordable Housing
--Transportation
--Child Care
--Job Training
--Financial Literacy
--Care Coordination

In this webinar, we will also look at how this community is using CharityTracker Plus and the Outcomes Module for Case Management and collective reporting.

Our featured guest is Hannah Jarrett, Community Impact Associate, of United Way of the Piedmont in South Carolina. Born and raised in Chapin, South Carolina, Hannah attended Wofford College and graduated with a degree in English and History. Hannah served three years as an AmeriCorps VISTA at United Way of the Piedmont, working with United Way’s Young Leaders, Nonprofit Fellows, and Behavioral Health Task Force. In August 2015, she was hired as a Community Impact Associate to lead the Financial Stability Initiative. She is a graduate of the 2015 Grassroots Leadership Development Institute and the 2017 Leadership Spartanburg class.

Registration Now Open! Click Here!
April 10, 2018, from 1-2 pm CST. Always free!

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Workplace Stability- A vital piece to preventing & alleviating poverty

Feb. 23, 2018, 12:29 p.m. · 0 comments


Registration Now Open! Click Here!

For several years, Stephen MacDonald was a part of fighting poverty in his community of Toledo, Ohio when a new issue came to light. “I was informed of issues faced by businesses that provide services to individuals with developmental disabilities (DD). These employers hire Direct Support Professionals to work with individuals with DD so they can lead increasingly independent, productive and integrated lives. However, in these lower-wage, entry-level positions, the turnover rate was high---nearly 51%. They were hemorrhaging staff,” says MacDonald.

It was found that the top three reasons for high turnover were lack of transportation, lack of child care and disagreements with supervisors. While investigating possible solutions, MacDonald learned about ERN-USA Employer Resource Networks (ERN). To “stop the bleeding” of employees leaving and to build a better employment future for people, MacDonald brought employers together and the first ERN in Ohio was born. “It is an employer-based consortium formed to provide job retention services, work support, and training for employees,” says MacDonald, Bridges Out of Poverty Coordinator and President of Emerge Solutions. As a part of the network, employers bought “shares” depending on the size of their company, and together they hired a success coach. This coach works for the employers and is hired with their input. The job of the success coach is to keep ERN employees on the job.

Employer administrators, supervisors and HR personnel received Bridges Out of Poverty training. Under-resourced employees became “investigators” in Getting Ahead in the Workplace classes. With a new common language and understanding between economic classes, all the employees got to work solving problems that affected the businesses. Six of the original eight employers are continuing in the ERN in 2018. “ERN employers report that 69 fewer staff needed to be hired in 2017 relative to 2016. Based on their reported turnover costs, these six companies saved a combined total of $288,000,” says MacDonald.

Workplace stability is key to preventing and alleviating poverty and key to success in business. Enhancing stability is a win-win for all.

“Employers do a lot to stabilize us,” says Ruth Weirich, author of Workplace Stability and Engagement Specialist with Aha! Process “Employers offer us vacation, 401(k), paid time off, holidays, maternity leave, and all of those things stabilize us. Not everybody gets those benefits, though, and so we’re looking at ways to talk with employers about stability that will stabilize our employees and improve retention and profits.”

Are you partnering with employers in your community to help employees gain stability and businesses succeed?

This is the focus of the next Simon Solutions Transform Tuesday webinar. Low-wage workers can experience personal instability that leads to absenteeism, health problems and violations of work expectations, all of which decrease morale, attention to work, job performance and employee retention.  Weirich and Phil DeVol, author of Getting Ahead in a Just-Getting By World, will explore the range of factors that create instability for employees that impact business success. They will also discuss effective techniques and tactics for increasing stability in the workplace and explore how employers and the community can partner together for success and sustainability.

Workplace Stability: Improving Retention & Productivity for Greater Profitability
March 6, 1 PM - 2 PM CST
with Phil DeVol & Ruth Weirich, Aha!Process

Registration Now Open! Click Here!

Can’t make the live webinar? We are recording it! Register and you will receive a link to recording and handouts the next day.

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February Webinar: Equipping Volunteers for Success

Feb. 5, 2018, 1:58 p.m. · 0 comments


Registration Now Open! Click Here!

Volunteers! Our community benefit organizations and churches often depend on them to help us meet our missions and expand our impact. In this webinar, Krista will discuss best practices in working with volunteers, including:

- inviting people to serve & writing position descriptions

- training & offering feedback

- affirming & recognizing volunteers

- evaluating & reflecting on experiences

- lots of downloadable resources

Krista Petty serves as Community Connector for Simon Solutions Inc, writing case studies and facilitating capacity-building webinars for community benefit organizations and churches. She is also a speaker, trainer and writer with a background in domestic missions, equipping volunteers and community collaboration. She resides in Spirit Lake, Iowa with her husband, Steve.

Registration Now Open! Click Here!

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January 16 Webinar Focuses on Homelessness

Jan. 3, 2018, 1:56 p.m. · 0 comments



Assessing & Coordinating Care with the Homeless
January 16, 2018, 1 -2 PM Central Time
Hosted by Krista Petty, Community Connector, Simon Solutions
Featured Guest, David Tweedie, Associate, OrgCode Consulting
Registration Now Open! Click Here!

The first webinar on 2018 is going to be a great and challenging one! We will be talking about homelessness and the tools and methods used to effectively help communities succeed in housing people and families. One of the most essential tools in the human services sector is a valid, reliable, and consistent tool that allows for a definitive assessment of the needs of clients. Without a proper assessment of clients, chances are very good that resources will be allocated inefficiently – perhaps through a first come, first served system or serving the squeakiest wheel first. OrgCode has developed the SPDAT (Service Prioritization Decision Assistance Tool). Now in its fourth year, the SPDAT is available in multiple versions and is even integrated with many HMIS programs including CharityTracker.

Yes, Simon Solutions now offers CharityTracker HMIS- All the proven benefits of CT with additional coverage for those in a community with Homeless Management Information System needs.

Our webinar will feature David Tweedie from OrgCode interviewed by our webinar host, Krista Petty, Community Connector at Simons Solutions. David is a fast, intense and tireless problem solving optimist, underdog ally and HMIS programmer. He has been working to end homelessness for more than 10 years, using data to improve service delivery, accessibility and transparency to increase housing outcomes for his vulnerable neighbors experiencing decades of homelessness. Before coming to OrgCode, David led the implementation of Coordinated Entry for individuals experiencing homelessness within the District. David brings more than 10 years' experience as the System Administrator for Homeless Management Information Systems across multiple Continua of Care, designing the technological platform to better target street outreach to people not yet served or difficult to locate. Combining that technology's complex programming, OrgCode's assessment tools, and in-person case conferencing resulted in more than 1,000 of D.C.'s most vulnerable neighbors sleeping outside or in shelter moving into permanent supportive housing over 3 years, as part of more than 3,300 people who were permanently housed during that time.

Unable to make it to live webinar January 16? Go ahead and register! All registrants receive a link to the recording and notes/handouts after the webinar whether you can attend live or not.

Registration Now Open! Click Here!

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Case Studies Now Online!

Dec. 29, 2017, 3:12 p.m. · 0 comments

Would you like to get a sneak peak at how other organizations and communities utilize CharityTracker and Oasis Insight? Now you can! Our Simon Solutions Case Studies are compiled on one simple web site that you can download and share. Just visit Simon Solution Case Studies

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Transform Tuesday Webinars Return!

Aug. 17, 2017, 1:18 p.m. · 0 comments


Check out our new line-up of Transform Tuesday Webinars this fall.
A new web page was created to house all the upcoming webinars with links to registration. Grab your team members and learn together for free. Each webinar includes downloadable handouts and case studies, as well as Q & A with our featured guests following their 45 minute interviews and presentations with your host, Krista Petty.

Register for Fall 2017 Webinars

Also, if you haven't seen it, we have a complete webinar library with recordings of every presentation done to date. Again, all for free! Don't forget to download the materials that accompany each webinar as well!

Webinar Library

Have an idea for an upcoming webinar? We are scheduling topics and guests for 2018. Email our Community Connector, Krista Petty krista@simonsolutions.com with your idea.

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Mind the Gaps- Tracking Unavailable Resources

July 13, 2017, 3:12 p.m. · 0 comments


By Krista Petty, Community Connector, Simon Solutions

Do you ever work with a client and can’t secure all the resources they need? Are you tracking what your community is NOT able to provide? Tracking the unavailable services can be a powerful way to see the gaps that exist and provide the data necessary for an organization to ask for additional funding to start something that is desperately needed. For example:

Say you are a part of a CharityTracker Network where multiple organizations are collaborating for community impact, networked through relationships and technology. Your organization provides job training and financial counseling. You do not provide any health services, but an agency across town does. You frequently make referrals to them. But the young homeless man you are working with needs dental care, not necessarily healthcare. You know it will help his overall health as well as his chances to get a job he is working so hard to train for. You have nowhere to make the referral. And this is not the first time this has happened. It is actually a regular occurrence- young men needing dental services.

The health services agency you refer to would like to offer those services, but are without funding to offer it. What if you went ahead and made the referral? Begin tracking all the times you need to refer a client for this service, even if you know they will be denied. Imagine the strength of a grant or donor appeal if the health agency can say “We received 30 referrals for dental services in the past six months. Unfortunately, they were denied because we currently are unable to offer those services due to funding.”

PJ Bopp, HMIS Training Coordinator for the Marion County Homeless Council shared with me this little tip about tracking what you can’t provide. This CharityTracker HMIS network in Ocala, FL expanded their referral status options to include the following:

PENDING

APPROVED

ASSISTANCE NOT CURRENTLY AVAILABLE

CONTACT MADE/CONTACT ATTEMPTED

DENIED

DETERMINATION PENDING

NO FUNDS CURRENTLY AVAILABLE

What a great way to work together as a community to clearly see and record the gaps in services. Of course, organizations and agents should communicate as to what they desire to track together so there are not hundreds of open referrals. And PJ’s advice “Update those referrals often! Don’t leave them as pending.”

To learn more about, Making Requests/Referrals,
visit and view our video tutorials.


Photo by Pawel Loj

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How do we help people get ahead? Let’s learn how!

April 24, 2017, 1:51 p.m. · 0 comments


Register for the May 9th Webinar: The Getting Ahead Experience. Click Here!

If you work for a community benefit organization that provides human services for any length of time, you know that many people are just getting by, and some are barely getting by. How can we help people to get ahead and stay ahead, financially, emotionally, spiritually, and relationally?

Getting ahead is hard to do! So how can it happen? Meet our friends at aHa Process! And their program “Getting Ahead in a Just Gettin’ by World.” This program assists individuals living in poverty to evaluate their lives, so they can develop the skills necessary to survive and flourish. Participants examine their own pasts and create new futures, including developing a written plan for prosperity that is broken down into manageable and achievable steps. Participants in Getting Ahead:

--Examine all areas of their lives including their resources, attitudes & aspirations.

--Learn about the hidden rules of economic class and how to navigate around them.

--Build new, supportive friendships with classmates.

--Receive one-on-one help to overcome barriers to success.

--Start planning for new, more self-sufficient futures for themselves AND their communities!

According to researchers and participants Getting Ahead has been remarkably successful in 45 states and five other countries. Simon Solutions is a proud partner with this life-changing program, designing assessments that plug into the current CharityTracker system, helping you track and report progress of Getting Ahead participants.

What does it look like to facilitate a Getting Ahead program in your community?
Our May 9th Transform Tuesday Webinar features The Getting Ahead Experience with facilitators Mary Hicks from Muskogee OK, Stanley Smith from Toledo, OH and author Phil DeVol. This webinar features an up-close look at facilitating the program and what individual and community change looks like.

Register for the May 9th Webinar: The Getting Ahead Experience. Click Here!

Watch the webinar with a group!
Get the most out of this webinar by watching it with others in your community. You have permission to share this invitation with others and gather as a group of co-workers, volunteers or community collaborators to view. Have a post-webinar discussion with another about what you learned and what you might want to follow-up on based on your learning experience. Simon Solutions will even provide you with discussion question handout to spark the conversation!

Can’t make it on May 9th? That’s ok! Everyone registered receives a link to the webinar recording and handouts, so you can view it at a time most convenient to you.

Previously, we featured author Phil DeVol introducing the Getting Ahead constructs in November 2016. This May webinar is not a repeat, but a closer look at facilitating the Getting Ahead Experience.
View all our Transform Tuesday Webinars!

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