CCFP - Lessons Learned
Lessons Learned: Applicability for Other Local Jurisdictions
In developing and implementing the Consolidated Community Funding Pool, Fairfax County has incorporated many lessons learned over the first three years through ongoing continuous improvement efforts. However, there are a number of lessons that apply more generally to any process that involves a decision-making partnership between citizens, elected officials, county staff, and community organizations.
Lesson 1: Real citizen involvement is absolutely critical to the long term success of the process
Citizens drive this process at every step from identifying needs, to setting priorities, to making funding recommendations. For the process to be successful, citizens cannot just be represented on a committee or asked to approve staff recommendations; citizens actually do the hard work and make the tough decisions. While this arrangement actually requires more intensive and creative staff support, it has enabled the process as a whole to withstand the inevitable pressure of a new and changing governance system.
Lesson 2: Strategically align the make-up of citizen committees with the tasks to be done
Citizen involvement is only successful if the right people are at the table for the right tasks, especially when there is real work to be done. For example, involving non-profit agencies in the early policy development phase ensured their broad buy-in and support, and helped to design a process that realistically addressed the concerns and capabilities of community agencies. Involving respected community leaders and retired professionals in the selection phase prevented conflict of interest and ensured that funding decisions were accepted & upheld. Establishing staggered, three-year terms on the funding committee ensures fresh ideas, avoids burnout, and brings a mix of skills to the work.
Lesson 3: Respect the needs and sustain the commitment of the governing body
While the elected Board of Supervisors does approve the overall package of funding recommendations, they did delegate individual funding decisions to the citizen committee. To keep them informed and to ensure their continuing support, many approval checkpoints are built into the process along the way. The citizen committees present funding priorities to the Board of Supervisors for approval each fall, and funding recommendations each spring. Because of the broad-based and ongoing support of the elected body, the Funding Pool will enter its fourth year with an excellent record of success and process integrity.
Lesson 4: Build the Capacity of the Community to Succeed
The County expects quality service delivery, effective management, and realistic program outcomes from non-profit providers. To help community organizations be successful applicants and recipients of these funds, the County has offered training in grant-writing and performance management each year. To help even the playing field, this training is offered to all non-profits, not just to successful applicants.
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