Thoughts, Perspectives & Ideas

Tips & Tools for Designing & Leading Powerful Meetings

Yes, meetings can be powerful. As professionals, there are times when we wonder, “Why are we meeting? Was that worth my time?” And other times when we walk away feeling the WOW of a great meeting. For those of us focused on social impact, it is worth pausing to think about how we can make…


Empathy and Photography

Quick—how long would it take you to grab your phone and take a picture right now? 30 seconds? 1 minute? The ubiquitousness of smartphones means that we each have a camera, video camera, and ways of sharing what we’ve captured with the world at our fingertips, virtually all the time. So what do we do…


Investing in the Nonprofit Sector by Strengthening Leadership Capacity

Investing in Organizations Effective nonprofits are vital to the healthy development and quality of life in any community. An effective nonprofit, is one with a strong capacity to deliver on its mission. Naturally, this starts with a clear mission and purpose, but it also includes strong governance and leadership as well as financial and professional development…


Guacamole Grantmaking: Keeping the Grantee at the Center

Sometimes the most exciting grantmaking opportunities happen thanks to the smallest comments or observations. A foundation board member mentions attending a great arts festival in the City that takes place at the Palace of Fine Arts. He knows that the Palace is slated for renovation, and is wondering if the festival needs financial support to…


Creative and Strategic Approaches to Early Learning Systems-Building

There is an overwhelming unmet need for quality early learning access and supports for young children in California. To support the development of a high quality early learning system, First 5 Association of California contracted with VIVA to research and understand how states have built and expanded early learning systems. As part of this research, VIVA developed…


Developing a New Website: It’s Not as Daunting as You Think

Here is a fact we all know to be true: technology is always changing. Did you just buy the latest iPhone? Don’t get attached–something newer and better is inevitably going to come along within the next six months. Websites are no exception to this ever-changing landscape. Websites we visit on a daily basis are constantly…

Photo of QRIS Assessment Documents and Matrix

QRIS Communications: Keep It Simple

QRIS is undeniably complex – and with reason! Quality rating and improvement systems assess, improve and communicate the quality of early childhood programs, and can be thought of as a framework for improving quality in the early learning system overall. However, this complexity makes it a very hard concept to explain to parents and providers,…

Photo of elephant

The Blind Men and the Elephant: Analogies for Change

I was recently sitting in a VIVA project team meeting, strategizing about how to best move forward a client’s complex, multi-party system. As with any undertaking that has many players working on different moving parts, it runs the risk of becoming fragmented without a well-designed system that supports collaboration and information sharing. To illustrate this,…


Build Trusting Partnerships: 5 Starting Points

As a child, it was easy to make friends. In the 4th grade, we were assigned seats and my classroom neighbor became my lifelong friend. As adults, we can’t necessarily count on assigned seating in our personal or professional lives, but there are other ways to forge successful relationships and partnerships. Embarking on a new…