While impactful programs keep the magic alive in your nonprofit, fellowship, accelerator or mentorship project, effective program facilitators are the magicians that make the magic happen. Though the role of a program facilitator will vary by industry or organization type, most facilitators are responsible for maintaining the quality of the organization’s programs and overseeing the budget and staff for program projects.
WeThrive provides the tools needed for a program facilitator to thrive, but it’s your organization’s responsibility to recruit and hire the right person(s) for the job. In this article, we’ll provide tips and tricks for finding and training the facilitators and partners that will lead your organization to ongoing success.
What’s in a Role? The Many Demands of a Program Facilitator
Program facilitators can do a myriad of things to improve your organization’s programs, from increasing public program visibility to improving your programs’ impact and performance over time. Typically, program facilitators are responsible for comprehensive management of your organization’s key programs – from program development, implementation, management and evaluation, to service delivery and partner development and management.
When it comes to program development, implementation, management and evaluation, your facilitator(s) will be presented with numerous critical tasks. Beyond general development and oversight, your program facilitator(s) will be responsible for designing and refining programs over time, based on the needs of your constituents. This may include revisiting and updating program materials, toolkits, or other resources. Your program facilitator(s) will need to ensure that budgetary goals and restrictions are adhered to by tracking income and expenses, meeting deadlines, paying fees, or even renewing applications to continue receiving program funding.
Even more, your program facilitator(s) will need to enter and collect program data in a timely and accurate fashion, manage and assign tasks to program staff, and develop program evaluation strategies or program curriculum. Your facilitator(s) will be responsible for delivering staff and volunteer program trainings, facilitating meetings and engagements across programs and departments, and conducting regular audits or assessments of your programs’ progress.
Cultivating External Relationships: Program Facilitators and Partners
Beyond internal operations, program facilitators are responsible for ensuring a positive public image and cultivating strategic partnerships with external organizations and outlets. For example, a “key partnership” for a nonprofit may include a local media outlet, a similar nonprofit to collaborate with on programming or administrative work, a corporation with an expansive corporate social responsibility department and money to give, or even a donor with an “in” to high-level staff at that specific corporation.
Whoever the partner and whatever the strategy, program facilitators understand that identifying and maintaining strong external relations is critical for sustaining any internal program. Program facilitators are successful at everything from regularly and effectively communicating with partners, to gaining, keeping and leveraging partner trust, developing and implementing digital and physical marketing tactics to attract partners, or managing legal partnership contracts.
10 Key Attributes of a Powerful Program Facilitator
Program facilitators come from all backgrounds, ages, levels of experience and education. We believe that the following are critical attributes to look for in order to identify and recruit the right person(s) for the job:
- Mission Drive: Facilitators should be passionate about a program or organization’s mission, vision, values, and goals.
- Passion for Partnerships: Facilitators should be passionate about external relationship building, and should understand the monumental return on investment attainable through strong partnerships.
- Eagerness: Facilitators should be eager to understand the limitations of a program and to develop and implement positive changes that will empower programs to thrive.
- Adaptability: Facilitators should enjoy learning new things, should be able to learn new things quickly, and should be able to “roll” with any sudden or ongoing changes.
- Team Playing: Facilitators understand the strengths and weaknesses of their team, and are willing to fill in gaps where necessary. Facilitators are approachable and flexible – able to work independently or through collaboration.
- Initiative-Taking: Facilitators can take initiative and executive on any program. Simultaneously, facilitators are aware of an organization’s broader needs and priorities, and commit to respecting those priorities and acting with integrity.
- Critically Thinking: Facilitators enjoy tackling new challenges. They don’t get flustered when faced with a lack of answers or resources, and instead find ways to creatively solve problems.
- Multi-Tasking: Facilitators can manage multiple programs or projects at the same time, and know when to prioritize the development of one project over another.
- Service-Oriented: Facilitators are passionate about satisfying clients and customers and move through their work days with humility, selflessness, and awareness.
- Life-Long Learning: Facilitators love thinking about better ways to educate themselves and their teams. They love building processes and procedures to increase program impact. They understand that there’s always more to learn to adapt their programs to the shifting environments that surround them.
Knowledge is Power: How to Train and Scale your Program Facilitators
Regardless of the type of work your facilitators perform, it’s so important to provide them with excellent and ongoing project management training. Many free and paid project management courses exist that will teach your facilitators strategies for developing and managing programs, and for keeping programs on budget, on time and on scope.
Consistently scaling, or creating opportunities for growth, for your facilitators is just as key as any initial management trainings. Is your organization set-up to regularly meet with and evaluate your program facilitators’ performance? Does your organization invest in and provide professional development and regular networking opportunities, that will empower your program facilitators to efficiently and effectively secure stronger external partnerships?
What your program facilitators do, matters – perhaps more than in any other management role at your organization. Invest in your facilitators; invest in the magic that empowers your organization to thrive.