The Carl & Roberta 
Deutsch Foundation


Partnership Series: Blue Garnet

Posted by HALO Award on October 31, 2017 at 6:10 PM

Blue Garnet is a strategy and management firm for social change organizations seeking to translate vision to reality and go from good enough to truly great. In 2012, Blue Garnet joined the HALO Award team to lead the capacity building training throughout the grant term.

What notable evidence of impact have you seen in your direct work with the organizations?

We are incredibly fortunate to partner with the Foundation in learning and capacity building over the past five years. Over this time, not only have we seen remarkable changes in individual awardee organizations, but we have also developed evidence of this change from data collected across all cohorts to date. We can confidently say that participation in HALO leads to changes in awardees’ mindset and approach toward volunteer management. Specifically, awardees:

See their volunteer programs as a strategic part of, or an asset to, an integrated whole;

Recognize the importance of investing in volunteer management capacity to support organizational growth; and

Translate this into tangible actions (e.g. making time to plan, formalizing key roles and procedures, building infrastructure, broadening organizational buy-in)

How do you think the award’s approach supports the growth of both the volunteer program and organizations?

The Foundation considers growth of the volunteer program and overall organization to be integrally linked. Volunteer programs can be a smart and cost-effective way for organizations to expand their services; at the same time, organizations are hard pressed to scale up without the “X” factor that a strong volunteer program can provide. As a result, HALO was intentionally designed to formalize and bolster volunteer programs, while further integrating these programs with the rest of their organizations. For example, many awardees now consider volunteer programs a key component of their strategic planning process, helping them maximize potential use of all their key assets and capabilities.

How do you think the HALO Award program fits in the landscape of nonprofit capacity building programs in our region?

HALO stands out for its focus on volunteer program management. By combining financial support with technical assistance to build volunteer management capacity, the Foundation has create a real “niche” for itself in our region. This focus on volunteer management capacity really allows the Foundation to invest its limited resources to make a substantive difference with awardees.

What also stands out is the continuous learning that takes place as part of HALO. By soliciting feedback regularly, HALO design is always being refined, helping the Foundation to make the most of its investment along the way.

What are some opportunities for other funders to support volunteer programs?

The HALO Award offers a great example of how a modest investment in volunteer management capacity reaps a great return. HALO leverages limited funding dollars to help an organization take its volunteer program to the next level. We see a range of opportunities for funders to support volunteer programs. For example:

Recognize the value of volunteerism – Ask your grantees about the value volunteers bring to their organizations. Talk to them about how volunteers advance their mission, augment their program delivery and help foster a culture of philanthropy within their organizations.

Invest in strengthening volunteer programs – Understand what it takes to create and maintain a quality program, then find ways to support that. This can range from direct funding to recruit, support and retain the “right” volunteers, to capacity building to make strategic use of volunteers. Volunteers are effectively part of a nonprofits “talent” pool, and as such, require planning, learning and infrastructure to ensure this talent is committed and qualified for its “jobs."

Talk to us – This is just a starting point. We (Blue Garnet) and the Foundation have many more ideas and would be happy to share more!

For organizations who want to formalize or strengthen their volunteer programs, what is one piece of advice you would share with them?

To nonprofits: Just do it! Take the time to sit with colleagues whose work involve volunteers and focus on what is important together. Based on our experience, for most nonprofits, this means 1) better understanding your volunteers, 2) formalize the work you need done, and 3) develop a plan to align these two. Sounds easier said than done? Then our second piece of advice would be this: Apply for the next HALO Award!

To funders: Don’t start from scratch! Talk to your colleagues and grantees. Share what you are learning and doing. And encourage your grantees to apply for HALO!

Is there anything else you would like to share?

One thought to leave you with: In the broader field of management science, great companies are great because they are able to get the “right” people in the “right” seats on the bus. We often think of human resources in terms of employees, but volunteers represent an amazing and under-tapped resource. Our hope is that our sector can learn to embrace the role volunteers play, in so doing harnessing the power they bring to our missions, communities and impact.

Left: Way-Ting Chen, Co-founder & Partner, Blue Garnet

Partnership Series: Social Venture Partners LA

Posted by HALO Award on October 17, 2017 at 3:50 PM

At Cohort 6’s second peer convening in August, the Foundation invited Social Venture Partners (SVP) Los Angeles to lead a half-day Fast Pitch workshop for HALO Award grantees. SVP Los Angeles works with individual philanthropists to realize greater impact with their giving, strengthen nonprofits, and invest in collaborative solutions. Their Social Innovation Fast Pitch program trains nonprofit leaders to powerfully communicate their story, while connecting them with leaders in the business, philanthropic, and nonprofit communities.

Cohort 6 with SVP Volunteer Coaches

How does the Fast Pitch program build the capacity of and/or benefit nonprofits?

We work with a cohort of nonprofit leaders over two months, supporting them in developing a powerful 3-minute pitch to share who they are and how they connect to the work, why their organization is critical and impactful, and what they like to ask people to do in support of their great work. They work intensively with our coaches and receive written and verbal feedback from coaches and peers, as well as videos of their practice runs. It’s an incredible amount of feedback on something many of us do regularly – pitching our work – and yet rarely receive feedback on. The program culminates with an inspiring event where the nonprofits deliver their pitches to an audience of 600 philanthropists, nonprofits, and corporate leaders.

Beth Winton, Lake Avenue Community Foundation with a Volunteer Fast Pitch Coach

Why Fast Pitch? What is the secret to storytelling effectively and efficiently in 180 seconds?

Three minutes is a surprisingly long period of time – much longer than your typical elevator ride! Bring yourself into your storytelling! So often in nonprofit work, we tell ourselves it shouldn’t be about us, but we find that when leaders share what connects them deeply to their work, they’re far more likely to inspire people to action.

Rachel Black, Foothill Unity Center presenting her Fast Pitch

What/Who is the ideal candidate for the Fast Pitch program?

We focus on supporting emerging nonprofits and programs that have innovative solutions to pressing social problems, and we look for leaders who are eager to learn and grow.

Besides Fast Pitch, in what other ways can an individual or organization engage with SVP?

We are really excited to have just launched a nine-month Accelerator Program to support systems-change nonprofits in accelerating their growth and impact. We also now offer specialized Fast Pitch workshops for organizations that want to bring us in to work with their teams. And because we are built on an engaged philanthropy model, we always welcome new “Partners” to our community – individuals eager to contribute their time and money in supporting these incredible nonprofit organizations.

Alli Simon, Christine Margiotta, and Sharon Stratton, Social Venture Partners LA

For more information about Social Venture Partners, please visit

Partnership Series: AmeriCorps VISTA

Posted by HALO Award on March 23, 2017 at 1:15 PM

The Carl & Roberta Deutsch Foundation finds the relationship between nonprofits and volunteers inspiring. In an effort to connect our nonprofit partners with programs and opportunities that promote and support volunteerism, the Foundation partnered with the Corporation for National & Community Service to host an information session about the AmeriCorps VISTA and Senior RSVP Programs. 

Representatives from 20 Deutsch Foundation nonprofit partners, including past Halo Award winners, attended the session. Danette Martin, Program Officer at the Corporation’s California State Office, shared the history of the programs, explained the application processes, and highlighted the impact of mobilizing volunteers to support organization capacity & growth.

Attendees also heard from Eric Hubbard, Director of Development at Jovenes, Inc., who is in year 2 of a 3-year grant from the AmeriCorps VISTA program. He spoke about how support from VISTA volunteers has been instrumental in reaching organizational goals and pushing their efforts to the next level. With him was Kalsee Viano, VISTA member, who recently began her year of service at Jovenes, Inc. in the Development Department. Kalsee shared her motivation for moving from the for-profit to the nonprofit sector to work with an organization that serves at-risk communities and youth in Los Angeles. Eric and Kalsee explained how the VISTA program is mutually beneficial and transformative for both the volunteers and organizations involved.

Eric Hubbard, Jovenes, Inc. & Kalsee Viano, VISTA Member

For more information regarding the volunteer programs offered by the Corporation for National & Community Service, please visit the Resources page on the Halo Award website. From there you can access information about individual programs, application instructions and deadlines, and Danette Martin’s presentation from the session.