Ohio Members Shares Insights on Innovation

Conversations with Katie | June 14, 2011

One members shares the challenges and opportunitites that came with developing a new service as part of a discussion on nonprofits and innovation.

Branka Primetica, senior research analyst with Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging in Cleveland, OH, recently participated in a webinar sponsored by Johns Hopkins University's Listening Post Project on innovation and not-for-profits. She described how her organization was able to develop and maintain an innovative program called Care Consultation, which is a telephone-based information and support program for older adults with health challenges and their caregivers.

The program provides ongoing personalized guidance to help find practical solutions to health and care-related concerns. The key to its success is its collaboration with local governments, social service agencies, churches and schools. The Listening Post found, through its survey of not-for-profit organizations in a number of sectors, that one of the key ingredients to successful innovation is collaboration. Learning how to be an effective collaborator will facilitate an organization's ability to innovate. The survey also found that the biggest barrier to innovation is lack of funding.

Further, those who developed innovative programs often are unable to take the program or practice to scale due to lack of “growth capital”, narrow governmental funding sources and the tendency of foundations to encourage innovation but not to sustain their support for them. There is no dearth of innovative ideas, but rather a lack of much-needed resources to develop and sustain them.