Looking at the prospect of utilizing the funds we are awarded or allocated wisely is a very important topic and one I reflect on often. I worry that sometimes people do get complacent and expect that those funds will just magically appear year after year. What roles do I and others on the SNAP-Ed team play towards holding ourselves and others accountable to spend those dollars in the best and most impactful way possible?
Strategic planning and being much more explicit about the intended results and items to be delivered as well as the strategies created to achieve said outcomes is gaining importance year by year (Bradach, Tierney & Stone, 2008). Increasing the social impact has really gained a new threshold of importance as indicated in the Bradach, Tierney and Stone (2008) article. The four questions stated in this article are ones I believe should be asked by all organization receiving taxpayer dollars. Achieving results and holding the organization accountable for those results rank highly in my mind. Are we as a program creating the results we should? Are we generating enough results? How long standing or sustainable are our behavior changes? Are they short lasting or are we really helping people make long term changes in their health and wellness? Are we the organization we need to be to deliver these results or do we need to rebuild certain sectors of our program to increase our effectiveness? One example is refocusing our attention on those counties with the greatest SNAP population and pockets of need. Putting more program assistants in those places with true needs is being done. This takes time, energy, and effort to get personnel hired and trained. This should allow for more impact and cost effective and efficient programming. This may mean exiting some sites that are unable or unwilling to implement the most effective programming (Bradach, Tierney & Stone, 2008). The idea of “Intended impact” that Bradach, Tierney and Stone (2008) use is a great descriptor for me. Are we delivering and therefore making the intended impact our programs were designed to make, or are we just a fill in for bingo or a check in the block for a regulation to be completed?
We are part of a federal grant that is issued through the USDA and FNS. Looking at our purpose and mission as stated by Dr. King is of utmost importance. Are we continually designing our programming and therefore the supplies for programming in a thoughtful manner, or with increased funding will those contemplations be done in a more impulsive manner? Are we using our dollars to create greater value? (King, 2014)
This year of rollercoaster funding has been stressful to those of us on the team that have been impacted by all of the ups and downs such as the Tax Payer Relief Act and the stagnation that occurred during the Farm Bill debates. To the degree that personnel were almost sent home without pay, the need to be appreciative as Dr. King (2014) stated could not be emphasized enough. Now that our funding has been restored with the 5 year Farm Bill and the new formula which will take our budget from a 3.5 million dollar per year to over 10 million per year how will we assure all taxpayers will get the best and most impacts for their investment? Will our actions convey this strongly?
Our team has really looked at trends; most importantly the future environmental and societal trends are now on our radar (King, 2014). With the amount of growth we will need, new initiatives, programs and contracts are all being brainstormed and discussed. Ideas such as the hiring of a graphic designer and social marketer to broaden our reach have been proposed. Other ideas such as webcams for more personal communication between staff have been discussed. Replacing worn out computers with laptops to better allow school programming and work out in the field when away from the office is also on the drawing board. New programming and collaborations with groups such as Cooking and Local Matters is being explored. These are a few of the many ideas that we are exploring and discussing. Some of these new ideas will hopefully replace and redesign the face of our program and funding useage.
Bradach, J., Tierney, T., & Stone, N. (2008). Delivering on the promise of nonprofits. Harvard Business Review.
King, J., (2014). Budget and Finance Video PPT.