The FUND team had the opportunity to take an active role at the 2013 Opportunity Finance Network Conference, serving as a Bronze Level sponsor as well as presenting three sessions during the event. The OFN Conference is the premier CDFI industry event, attracting 1,000+ attendees to drive growth and expand the impact of the work CDFIs do.
At our first session on October 16, Deployment: Barriers, Breakthroughs and Best Practices , the FUND team of Moira Warnement (Consultant) and Lolita Sereleas (Founding Partner) presented the results of our research conducted as part of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses CDFI Growth Collaborative. This session served as a complement the initial findings we presented at the second annual OFN Small Business Forum in June, where Lolita joined Tim Hattfield of Opportunity Fund and long-time client David Kahley of The Progress Fund to facilitate a lively discussion on effective strategies for increasing CDFI deployment.
The October 16 session led to a robust discussion on deployment challenges, with participating CDFIs offering insight on strategies used to increase deployment. The conversation continued at the Goldman Sachs networking session, where FUND facilitated a discussion on market analysis to increase deployment. Additionally, on October 17, FUND representatives served as market analysis experts at the CDFI Clinic. This new conference offering provided CDFIs with the opportunity to meet in small groups with a subject matter expert to answer specific and focused questions based on topical needs.
At our sponsor booth, Ruth Barber (Partner) and Manjima Bose (Managing Consulting) and Jennifer Weitzel (Consultant) were able to meet with current clients and other CDFIs to field questions and gain insight into current issues on the minds of CDFI leaders, as well offer effective solutions to address these issues. The Native CDFI events provided the team with the opportunity to hear about exciting new programs focused on Native CDFIs. The following common themes emerged from our discussions:
- CDFIs are looking to better understand their markets, to assess whether or not their products are relevant, and to determine the most effective deployment strategies
- CDFIs are being challenged by balancing deployment goals with high community impact deals
- CDFIs are struggling with mission-creep as competition for deals is increasing and unrestricted funding sources are scarce.
In working with approximately 185 CDFIs over the past 13 years, FUND has found that the most sustainable and effective CDFIs are those that employ the principles of strategic management to their business approach, including the following:
- Use the core purpose of the organization as a decision making barometer for deals
- Routinely analyze your market and assess your organization
- Identify how marketing, deployment, and capitalization are all related, and integrate these functions for effective operations
What issues is your CDFI facing? What strategies do you use to address these issues?