Many times when we meet with potential clients, we hear them describe their “mission people” vs. their “operations people”. I was reminded of this at a lunch meeting this week with a client, who as a mission person described how those in charge of operations did not understand what CDFI designation meant to the organization.
This issue was at the core of a research project completed by FUND Consulting. We recently worked with Opportunity Finance Network (OFN) to develop the newly released Technical Assistance Memo on Deployment Strategies for CDFI Small Business Lenders. OFN contracted with FUND Consulting to expand a survey we distributed to our clients. As part of this engagement, FUND Consulting issued the survey and conducted follow up interviews to the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Growth Collaborative partners and other OFN members in August, 2013.
The findings from the research indicated that what increases the effectiveness in deployment for these CDFIs is clearly stated deployment goals and integrated strategies. CDFIs that link capitalization, marketing, and deployment into a cohesive and measurable management approach, with the organizational mission as a barometer for decision making, are the most effective at reaching their deployment goals.
While the research was limited to the operational issue of deployment for small business lenders, the FUND team has seen that this integrated strategic business model is an element in its most effective and sustainable CDFI clients. With this fundamental management approach in mind, supporting clients through strategic services is core to our business model.
Does your CDFI employ an integrated approach to management? If not, what are the barriers to adopting this approach?