The Hub Newsletter

I grew up playing Ghost in the Graveyard. Think of it as a giant game of tag with dozens of neighborhood kids. Keep in mind, this wasn’t a Halloween thing.  It was a daily-never-get-tired-of thing.  And, because the boundaries for the game crossed multiple blocks (Remember the good old days when kids could roam?), the moms had trouble keeping track of us. 

So, they developed a calling tree.  When my mom was looking for me, she’d push-button her way down the phone list until she found a mom who knew where we had all drifted to tag me to come home. But there was a side benefit to kid-spotting. Because the moms got a chance to chit chat regularly, they became close friends.

Thanks to my unlimited mobile plan and a multitude of middlemen (teachers, coaches, and grandparents), I’ve never needed a land line and a mom-tree to track my kids down, but I know the days are coming when we’re going to need a better communication system. And, I’m hopeful the recent technology upgrade at the Foundation has prepared me. 

Truth be told, I’ve been resisting this for a while.  I’ll tell you why. Part of the upgrade will allow our donors to have 24/7 access to their funds so they can review their balances, process grant requests, follow-up on grants awards, and handle other transactions easily. Another part will automate many of our communications to them—and our other partners. Great, right?  Everyone will be more efficient and self-sufficient.  Yet, I really worried about the loss of human interaction. When someone calls for a fund balance or to ask a quick question (the Foundation’s version of mom-chat), our connection deepens.

Then I realized, we need to practice what we preach.  For years, we’ve been preaching about the importance of nonprofit capacity building, strengthening one’s infrastructure to get to the next level of operational, financial, and organizational maturity. Because of the Foundation’s incredible growth over the past five years, we had reached another tipping point in our 30-year history.  To sustain and augment the important work related to our mission, we needed to streamline and automate as many transactional duties as possible. By doing so, everyone on our team can become front line warriors.  Everyone can have more time for meaningful conversations and projects that will make our community better: meeting with donors to understand their philanthropic goals and helping them achieve them; visiting nonprofit organizations to understand current needs and how programs are responding to those needs; creating educational opportunities to empower donors and strengthen nonprofit teams; and developing funder collaboratives to increase the impact of current initiatives.

As we all know, technology upgrades are expensive. How we accomplished the upgrade is as important as why we did it. Because we support the nonprofit community, it’s easy to forget that the Foundation is a nonprofit organization, too. However, when faced with challenges of organizational growth, we do exactly what we advise our local nonprofits before undertaking a capacity-building project: build reserves to have “skin in the game”, look for outside funding to help with one-time costs, and have a solid financial plan to ensure self-sufficiency moving forward.

We are very fortunate that three donors, who understand the correlation between capacity-building and increased impact, stepped up quickly to help cover our one-time start-up costs. With a generous lead gift from Mike and Kris Anne Gitlin, gifts from the Lawrence-Lynch Corp. Foundation for Charitable Giving Fund and an anonymous Massachusetts-based private foundation, and our own financial commitment to the increase in annual costs, we were able to move forward strategically and purposefully.

The entire process—determining the software provider, locking in the funding, reviewing and overhauling our internal standard operating procedures, and preparing and training for the conversion—took countless hours and spanned 18 months. But, with a little help from our friends, we’ll be more tech savvy when we boot up the new system in December.  We’ll also have more time to focus on things that matter: our mission, our donors, our partners (and maybe even a game of Ghost in the Graveyard).

 

Previous Columns

THE MIX MASTER
KRISTIN O’MALLEY, PRESIDENT & CEO
I’m a Mixmaster.  Have been since the ‘80s. And lately, my “Country-Boy-Road-Warrior” mix is the only thing blasting through the car speakers: Life is a Highway, Every Mile a Memory, Red Dirt Road and Dirt Road Anthem.  I know every skip, crackle, and pause on this well-used mix, because after a quick daily touch-down at the office, Willy and I are inevitably On the Road Again. And, by the time October rolls around every year, I’m feeling a lot like a Johnny Cash song: I’ve Been Everywhere. While Foundation work hasn’t taken me to Fond du Lac, Little Rock, or any of the other 91 places fired off in rapid succession in this name-dropping ditty, it has taken me all over the Cape for Road Warrior Recon, reconnaissance missions with the movers and shakers in the region. READ

THE OPPORTUNISTS
KRISTIN O’MALLEY, PRESIDENT & CEO
Dear Optimist, Pessimist, and Realist,
While you were busy arguing about the glass of water, I drank it.
–The Opportunist
While opportunists usually get a bad rap; this one got the last laugh. And that got me thinking. There’s nothing wrong with seizing opportunities. Carpe diem, so they say. It’s what Foundation work is all about—in a more altruistic kind of way. Our mission is to bring resources to our community. Period. End of story. Well, not really. We just added a new chapter. READ

THE GRIT FACTOR
KRISTIN O’MALLEY, PRESIDENT & CEO
It was my Junior year of high school, the Brown Invitational cross-country meet. I was never the fastest runner–usually number 7 or 8–so I straddled the JV and Varsity team. This time, the coach put me in the JV race, counting on me to place. The pressure was on. In the first quarter mile loop of these races, hundreds of runners are jam-packed together. At the start, one of them stepped on the back of my sneaker—and off it went. I was out in front, where I wanted to be, had to be. If I stopped for my shoe, I would fall back in the pack. So, I just kept running without it.
  READ

ON TREND
KRISTIN O’MALLEY, PRESIDENT & CEO
Most kids fall into whatever fashion trend comes along.  As a child in the 80’s, I fell hard for my Madonna “Lucky Star” look: ripped sweatshirt, lacy fingerless gloves, an armful of jelly bracelets and a head full of hairspray. In middle school, I jumped permed-head first into pegged pants, rugby shirts and high-top Reeboks. And in high school, comfort was key: nothing but baggy flannel shirts, overalls, and a pair of Adidas slides.
Today, I really couldn’t tell you if I’m fashion-forward or fashion-backward. Being “on-trend” isn’t high on my radar anymore.  At least fashion-wise.  Today, I follow philanthropic trends and can’t get enough of what businesses are doing.  For good.  READ

FRIDGE WORTHY
KRISTIN O’MALLEY, PRESIDENT & CEO
When I was in third grade, I had absolutely no idea how to spell scholarship, but I somehow managed to win one.  Everyone in my class had to write an essay, “Why I Love My Mother.”  I can’t remember what I wrote, but it was definitely fridge-worthy.  Back then, I’d do anything to earn a spot on the harvest gold door of our trusted, old Whirlpool.  It was the magnetized, centralized, optimized place for all kids’ achievements (and the weekly grocery list). READ 

OUR ROARING TWENTIES
KRISTIN O’MALLEY, PRESIDENT & CEO
When they were in their twenties, Charles Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic, Thomas Edison made the first phone call, and a young Dane named Bohr published a theory of the atom which rocked the physics world.  When I was in my twenties, I started drinking coffee. I also learned that if you push hard enough, you really can get a sleeper sofa up the 5 narrow flights of stairs of a Beacon Hill apartment building.  The coffee probably helped.  READ

WHERE THE RUBBER MEETS THE ROAD
KRISTIN O’MALLEY, PRESIDENT & CEO
I’ve always loved the expression, “Where the rubber meets the road.” Until recently, I had no idea how or when that phrase originated. So, I did what all curious minds do. I googled it. Surprise. The idiom trail leads back to the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company and a TV commercial jingle from the mid-1960s.  READ

SUPERHEROES
KRISTIN O’MALLEY, PRESIDENT & CEO
Things my six-year-old has taught me: 1) Every song has a danceable beat; 2) the “H” on the Montreal Canadians uniforms stands for Hockey not Habitants–that stumped us; 3) Not all super heroes have superpowers.  I supposed I knew that one. Superman has super-human everything, and Batman without the suit is just Bruce Wayne.  READ

SMART HOMES
KRISTIN O’MALLEY, PRESIDENT & CEO
Over the past 30 years, Habitat for Humanity of Cape Cod has built 127 homes throughout the Cape. By the end of this year, 430 people will live in a Habitat Home. Thirty-four more homes are under construction or on the drawing board. Find out why we’re calling these “smart homes.”
  READ

THE HEART OF THE MATTER
KRISTIN O’MALLEY, PRESIDENT & CEO
In my last column, Beam me up, Scotty, I talked about the Foundation’s commitment to capacity-building. This isn’t just a passive buzz word. It’s an action verb. It’s a way to make our community stronger.  Find out how we’ve supported Habitat for Humanity of Cape Cod​ and hear how this organization is making a big impact in our community.
  READ

BEAM ME UP, SCOTTY
KRISTIN O’MALLEY, PRESIDENT & CEO
Full disclosure.  I’m not really a Trekkie or Trekker (whatever most Star Trek fans prefer to be called). But, I do admire Scotty (Lieutenant Commander Montgomery Scott), the chief engineer and “miracle worker” of the USS Enterprise.  It’s purely professional.  Let me explain. READ

THE HOUSE THAT BILL BUILT
KRISTIN O’MALLEY, PRESIDENT & CEO
The house that Bill built took seven years to complete and cost $63 million. It has six kitchens, 24 bathrooms, and garage space for 23 cars. The pool house is bigger than my entire house. So is the gym (probably because of the trampoline). And, the reception hall is the perfect place for a plated dinner if you keep the guest list to 150. READ

NOTHING BUT BLUE SKIES
KRISTIN O’MALLEY, PRESIDENT & CEO
New Year. New Resolution. I’m swearing off buzz words. Sunsetting them. Sending them straight over the bleeding edge. No more drilling down, reaching out or circling back.  No more pivoting, piggybacking or peeling back the layers of the onion. Our board is not the S.W.A.T. team, you are not stakeholders, and today’s agenda is not Mission Critical.  
 READ

END-OF-THE-YEAR APPEAL (AND  CONFESSION)
KRISTIN O’MALLEY, PRESIDENT & CEO

I’ve had a serious crush since the 1980s. His name is Pac-Man. That neon-yellow, dot-gobbling character stole my heart the minute I powered up my first Commodore 64 computer. Pac and I spent hours together in his video maze, devouring dots and evading four murderous monsters: Blinky, Pinky, Inky, and Clyde. Together, we relentlessly pursued those flashing Power Pellets. These power-ups made us temporarily invulnerable so we could swallow up the enemy, earn bonus points, and advance to the next level of play. What a guy! WHAT. A. CONCEPT!
  READ

WHAT’S YOUR GIVING STORY?
KRISTIN O’MALLEY, PRESIDENT & CEO
My children are five and seven.  They already know I’m not a chef, an artist or an editor. Right now, I’m known for burnt pots, stick figure drawings and long, rambling life lessons. Some legacy, huh?  In time, though, what I hope they’ll remember me for is teaching them the value of giving.  READ

MY HOME TOWN
KRISTIN O’MALLEY, PRESIDENT & CEO
Some people think you can’t go home again. I don’t.  I grew up in Dennis. (Ok, I know.  It’s a very short trip, but that’s not the point of the story.) See, whenever I hang out in my home town, I get those warm and fuzzy feelings of childhood.  Although many things have definitely changed there over the years, my feelings haven’t.  Going home still gives me goosebumps.  READ

GIFT GIVERS ANONYMOUS
KRISTIN O’MALLEY, PRESIDENT & CEO
We’ve all had shocking self-revelations.  Mine came in my early thirties when I finally had to concede: I am a lousy gift-giver.  That long-delayed admission came one chilly Christmas Day when the presents I put under the tree received (yet again) an even chillier reception from my family members. When my mother said, “Really, honey, you shouldn’t have,” I finally heard it.  Really.  You.  Shouldn’t. Have. Ever. Again.  READ

THE BLUE JEANS BLUES
KRISTIN O’MALLEY, PRESIDENT & CEO
I have a serious love/hate relationship with blue jeans. LOVE wearing them. HATE shopping for them. But, when I had worn my Lucky Brand dark-washed, gently-whiskered, 5-pocket, zipper-fly, boot-cut besties way beyond respectability, I had no choice but to hit the mall. No biggie. Dash in. Dash out. A new pair of these made-for-me blues was a quick credit-card swipe away. Right? Wrong. READ

WHO ARE THE PEOPLE IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD?
KRISTIN O’MALLEY, PRESIDENT AND CEO
Recently, I had a surreal experience. It made me feel like I had walked out of my ordinary life and onto a television set. Not Game of Thrones or House of Cards. That might have been cool. No, I had landed on Sesame Street, PBS’s perky place for preschoolers. There was Bob (the affable music teacher who lives in an apartment above Hooper’s Store) and a handful of Muppets (no pun intended).  READ

WHAT I LEARNED FROM PRINCESS POPPY
KRISTIN O’MALLEY, PRESIDENT AND CEO
I’m reluctant to admit it–and half-hoping you won’t believe it. One of my mentors is a troll–not one of those provocative-posting cyber trolls who purposefully disrupts online discussion groups. My superhero is a spunky little pink-haired, pink-skinned do-gooder named Princess Poppy. What’s more this pink paragon (who’s cooler than a pack of peppermints) sings! READ

YOU CAN’T PLAY HOCKEY IN HIGH HEELS
KRISTIN O’MALLEY, PRESIDENT AND CEO
Last winter, I became a new mom: a hockey mom. Every week I raced out of the office to pick up my 4-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter for practice.  To be honest, I looked totally out of place in full business attire and seriously hoped there would never be a parental duty requiring me to skitter across the ice in 3-inch high heels.  READ

POWERING UP
KRISTIN O’MALLEY, PRESIDENT AND CEO
I’m a runner. Not a fast runner. I like taking my time, going the distance. I run a few miles most mornings, step it up on the weekends and work in a half marathon every chance I get. Like most runners, I have a ritual. Breathe. Stretch. Repeat. I close my eyes, run the course in my mind, then release slowly, purposefully. READ