Local consulting firm, ti communication (tic) provided pro-bono Organizational Development (OD) consulting services to the Farmers Market Fund  (FMF), a Portland-area non-profit organization through the OD Network Community Consulting Project (CCP). The unlikely partnership between an international consulting firm and a local farmer’s market resulted in a re-energizing of the board of directors and the identification of new sources of funding.

Client Background

For a number of years, FMF has been highly impactful in expanding access to local, farm-fresh food to economically disadvantaged populations in rural and urban Oregon with the Double Up Food Bucks program. Qualitative and quantitative data provide strong evidence that families, regional farmers, and farmers markets have all benefited from their efforts.

The Challenge

After losing a major grant due to federal policy changes, the leadership team at the Farmers Market Fund faced charting a course for an altered future for the organization. Going forward, FMF looked for ways to continue with this kind of program but did not want to be highly dependent on one big grant again. Questions were also asked about how to grow resiliently as opportunities arise to do so.

FMF leaders reached out for organization development resources through the OD network community consulting project (CCP) for guidance. The CEO of tic USA, Sabine Amend joined the CCP consulting team to assist with developing future directions and strategy for the Farmers Market Fund.

Our Approach

tic USA CEO, Sabine Amend, leads an organization that is international in its scope of clients and global in its mindset. Doesn’t it make more sense to stay focused on the big picture realm then? Amend does not see it that way. She points out, “Real quality of life happens locally with the fabric of our daily experiences within our close-range communities. And healthy communities are forged through bonds of shared responsibility, care, and communication. That does not change just because I spent last night in a video conference with clients on two other continents.” Rather than leading to detachment, her broad global experiences have convinced her that engaged local communities are vitally important and contribute mental health benefits, social trust, and democratic process skills.

The Solution

In the FMF project, after clarifying the needs of the client further, ti communication conducted detailed interviews and surveys with key stakeholders of the organization, including its board members and important donors. This provided the foundation for the design and facilitation of a one-day, off-site board-strategy workshop. During this workshop, board members explored the future through a combination of scenarios, role-plays, and skills-practices. Maybe most importantly, they engaged in the type of in-depth conversations which rarely occur during the agenda-packed board meetings. After delineating actions, board members left the session hopeful and energized. The consultant team followed up with a report and recommendations as well as with a closing session at a board meeting.

The Results

Since then, FMF staff and board members have taken several steps to implement the ideas generated in the board workshop; they are taking action based on the suggestions in the consultants’ report. FMF is also well on its way towards accessing significant new sources of funding. Congratulations to the board and staff of FMF! And thank you for your on-going work in our communities.

About ti communication, USA

Organization development services for businesses and non-profit organizations, locally and internationally, are part of the tic portfolio. Contact us if you think we can be of service.  If you are a Portland-area non-profit organization with limited resources, consider becoming an ODN CCP client. Detailed information is listed at www.odnoregon.org/community-consulting-project . If you feel inspired by the work of the Farmers Market Fund, please consider making a donation.