Peninsula Volunteers, Inc.

Menlo Park, CA
Round
Fall-Winter 2014
Project Type
Full team
Project Focus
Business Plans,
Marketing & Communications
Organization Type
Human Services

Organization

Peninsula Volunteers, Inc. (PVI) operates Meals on Wheels and Rosener House Adult Day Services; it has also operated Little House, a senior activities center, since 1949. Little House is a mid-Peninsula institution serving over 3000 seniors annually, one-third of whom are dues-paying members. Its services include community activities, classes, support groups, a cafe, and a welcoming atmosphere.

Situation

The Peninsula Volunteers Board recognizes that Little House’s facilities and activities are underutilized. They have considered several alternatives for redesigning and delivering various senior services, but they’re concerned that those efforts were constrained by the limitations of an internal task force.

Project Objectives

The Board asked the ACT team to provide Peninsula Volunteers, Inc. with a business plan for Little House that addresses target markets, optimal programming, earned income, and organizational considerations.

Project Overview

The initial phase of project focused on information gathering and fact-finding. This included:

  • data-gathering and analysis of Little House program offerings,
  • interviews with internal staff of Little House and other parts of the PVI organization,
  • interviews with a majority of PVI Board members,
  • benchmarking and interviews with directors of over fifteen other local senior centers,
  • interviews with academic researchers in the field of longevity,
  • a literature review,
  • and extensive analysis of financial information.

Regular and frequent team meetings were held to review progress, as well as weekly client touch-base calls by project leaders. The ACT team initially split into two – one with an internal focus and one with an external focus. Team meetings were spent reviewing findings of the two sub-teams and discussing implications and options for recommendations.

A mid-project presentation to management and most of the Board outlined team findings and a set of four possible alternatives for the future of Little House for the Board’s consideration. Based on feedback from that meeting, the team focused on one alternative to further develop with final recommendations.

A final presentation recapped findings and decisions from mid-term and made specific recommendations including detailing near-term implementation steps and longer-term directions. A few days after the presentation, the Board approved starting the first phases of the recommendations and then presented a synopsis of the ACT project and recommendations to their entire PVI membership.

Key Recommendations

  • Recommit to the future of a reinvigorated Little House organization
  • Change governance structure to incorporate an outside, community connected, professional steering committee for Little House
  • Clarify roles and responsibilities of various stakeholders
  • Broaden fund-raising horizons
  • Focus organization on community involvement, partnering, and program innovation
  • Expand engagement of “young-olds” with innovative programs
  • Create “volunteering” as a program Little House offers, don’t only use volunteers to support operations
  • Leverage volunteers to initiate programs
  • Recast financial reporting so that it supports decision-making more clearly
  • Adopt the team-recommended evaluation model to help Little House decide which existing programs to keep and new ones to take on
  • Invest in a couple of key hires and some key marketing activities

Final Report Outline

  • Overview of team findings
  • Review alternatives, financial and organizational implications of each, and recommended alternative
  • Phase I implementation plan for recommended alternative
  • Phase II implementation outline
  • Vision for the future

Other

Evaluation Framework – a general purpose model which can be tailored to a wide variety of organizations to help decide whether a program or opportunity is a good fit for them. Helps structure organizational thinking to address key factors core to a business plan and to ask the right questions. This model has been used by at least three ACT project teams successfully.