By Veronica Louis
Nancy Ingram and Christa McMillin, founders of Foot in the Door Consulting understand nonprofit culture thoroughly. After more than 35 collective years in the sector, they understand that there is a great need for getting people ready for the reality of working in the nonprofit world, while bridging the gap between capable young professionals and organizations seeking qualified professionals.
Interestingly, they started out with the goal of supporting young professionals trying to make a career in the nonprofit sector and help them get their “foot in the door.” However, within the first year, they had clients asking for help on the organizational side. They decided that their business had to focus on the nonprofit sector as a whole, such as organizational development through supporting systems, structures and staff, etc.
This broader focus was fitting considering Nancy’s graduate studies in human and group development, Christa’s graduate training in International Affairs, and their years of experience working in nonprofit organizations as managers and program directors, among other things, including working together at Mines Action Canada.
Foot in the Door Consulting in Cambodia
From the beginning their expertise was not limited to organizations from Ottawa, where they are based. Soon after Foot in the Door Consulting first launched in February of 2011, they were in Cambodia during the Meeting of States Parties. Foot in the Door Consulting had the privilege of designing an eight-day training for the 38 youth leaders in the International Campaign to Ban Landmines – Cluster Munition Coalition, from 23 different countries.
Foot in the Door Consulting’s mission was to take a dedicated group of young people’s leadership training to the next level. Nancy remembers how towards the end of the training Foot in the Door Consulting gave the youths a group-challenge where they had to organize a donor appreciation event. Building on the skills that they learned on communication, conflict and project management, the group of young people had to work together to come up with their advocacy goal and messaging, invite government delegates, plan and run the program from start to end.
The event was successful and all the government officials loved it. Nancy was extremely proud of the young leaders. “It was probably one of the most moving events of my life,” she says. “They worked together. They handled their personality conflicts. They used their leadership skills. They used their project management skills. And in the end, we couldn’t have done it better ourselves.”
Foot in the Door Consulting in Afghanistan
Foot in the Door Consulting continues to work with organizations from all over the world. In the past three years, they’ve worked in Ghana, Uganda, Philippines, Ireland, Tajikistan, Albania, France, Switzerland, Canada and Chile. Their latest trip was to Kabul, Afghanistan, and took place in October of 2013 after Foot in the Door Consulting was contacted by Firoz Alizada, one of the directors and founding members of Afghan Landmine Survivors Organization (ALSO). Foot in the Door Consulting and ALSO had worked together before through the International Campaign to Ban Landmines – Cluster Munition Coalition, where ALSO sits on the governance board.
ALSO provides services to people with all types of physical disabilities and features a hallmark peer to peer support program where a whole team of people work with those with long-standing disabilities, as well as newly-disabled people to help them integrate back into their communities. In addition, ALSO, present in four provinces in Afghanistan, provides vocational training programs in fields such as tailoring and cooking, as well as literacy, computer and English language training, among other things, while advocating to ban landmines and cluster munitions on the international level.
ALSO needed a consultant to help them with their strategic planning and development of staff capacity and Christa, representing Foot in the Door Consulting, rose to the occasion.
Foot in the Door Consulting had much to cover, including strategic planning, fundraising strategies and program development, some of which could be done remotely. However, Foot in the Door Consulting had to be on the grounds to deliver the proposal writing training. Despite some of the challenges faced such as the language barrier, the daily workshops with the ten members of ALSO’s senior management team were successful and very well received and everyone was happy with the content and delivery.
Christa explains that there was a speed bump with conveying information and participants retaining information. “Some of the concepts are difficult for native English speakers to grasp, let alone when you’re trying to figure out these concepts in a language that might be your second or third or fourth language,” she states. Nevertheless, Christa enjoyed the challenge of having to simplify the concepts and the language so that it translated into a third or fourth language.
As for future projects, Foot in the Door Consulting is supporting the creation of a survivors’ network for the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict, which will hopefully launch in March 2014. And in the meantime they continue their expert work at supporting the nonprofit world and bridging the gap between professionals and organizations.
For more information about the International Campaign to Ban Landmines – Cluster Munition Coalition >
For more information about Afghan Landmine Survivors Organization >