WHAT WE DO
We build your capacity so you can deepen your impact.
We do that by connecting your work to the humans that make it matter.
The most innovative work happens when processes and tools work for people, not the other way around. Only then can the processes and tools move you forward. We call this agile project management, and you can read more about our values behind it in our agile manifesto for mission-driven leaders.
We focus our services into four key areas--vision, strategy, evaluation, and storytelling.
The lines between each of these areas are often fluid and interwoven. That’s why our most effective work happens through partnerships with innovative change-makers, working through all of four areas. Partnerships are a good fit for leaders who are just starting to design their organization or for those who are ready for a pivot to a new direction.
But we also know that the work of social change isn’t linear. We’ll jump in wherever you are at, equipping you with the tools and strategies you need right now.
We love leveraging your existing strengths, resources, and the accomplishments of your team to support your purpose and take it to the next level, and we get really excited about these types of solution-oriented collaborations.
In every single engagement, big or small, our goal is always the same--to help you advance your mission.
A social change playbook for crystal clear culture, mission, and values.
Getting clear and explicit about your vision for social change is everything. Literally. This is the DNA of your organization that guides strategy, decision-making, organizational culture, and most of all--it keeps you focused on achieving your impact. It defines who you are and why you exist in the world--in clear terms that become your compass. You have to know where you are going in order to figure out the best way to get there.
Common solutions implemented at this level are designing mission, vision, and values, interactive stakeholder and staff retreats, creating social change playbooks, developing a visual theory of change, creating logic models, identifying indicators of success, and goal setting.
Benefits and Results
- Clearly articulate your long-term impact and how you’ll get there
- Build alignment and engagement with employees, board of directors, and stakeholders
- Clear priorities to guide strategy and decision-making
- Recognize and influence early indicators of change
"Getting clear on the actual wording of my business purpose has been grounding, and it’s changed the conversations I’m having with customers and investors. It’s attracted more people to The Mother Love than I was able to do in the previous two years. I’ve got clarity on where to invest my energy and how to shape my business in the next year."
Rebecca Egbert, CEO, The Mother Love
See what The Mother Love’s Social Change Playbook looks like
Agile strategic planning that drives growth and deepens impact
Strategy that drives growth and deepens impact must be rooted in mission and values and relentlessly focused on only doing what works. But strategy can’t predict, let alone control the future – it’s a hypothesis about how to succeed. The actual path forward must adapt to change and new opportunities. Agile strategy means building on your mission and values to create measurable strategic themes (you might call them priorities or goals) that come to life through a dynamic and iterative action plan.
Common solutions implemented at this level are creating strategy playbooks for specific priorities such as sustainable funding, customer engagement, digital marketing, new products or services, or employee and volunteer retention, lean experimentation, business and mission model canvases, defining performance indicators through objectives and key results, and building actionable and flexible work plans.
Benefits and Results
- Engaged employees who understand how their work supports strategic priorities
- Confident, responsive decision-making, informed by people, values, and data
- Quickly adapt strategy and action to changing circumstances, opportunities, and needs
- Failure becomes inexpensive and low risk; learning and adapting becomes quicker and more effective
"Brandi possesses the unique skill set combination of vision, intellect, and the ability to truly listen. I’ve seen her listen to both groups of nonprofit board directors and front-line employees and create a clear map for the organization. She’s gifted at looking at your data and mission and then helping you build strategy. Brandi is also a joy to worth and brings the best out of any team she’s a part of."
Dean Caldwell-Tautges, Senior Vice President of Business Development & Operations, SpringFour
Lean impact measurement for improving and proving the good you do
Putting your people at the center of your evaluation strategy is the only way to ensure that you are measuring what matters most. But measuring social impact can be complex. Traditional evaluation practices are typically time-consuming and costly. The alternative is lean measurement. An approach that emphasizes creating value for your organization and stakeholders through data collection and management. Lean evaluation favors efficiency and relevance while maintaining accuracy. We believe that the best metrics are the ones you’ll actually use.
Common solutions implemented at this level are holistic evaluation plans, interactive focus groups, survey design, identifying key metrics and results aligned to objectives, practical data workflows, data management, visual data dashboards, data-informed decision-making practices, and people-centered performance measurement systems.
Benefits and Results
- Increased transparency, accountability, and trust with beneficiaries
- Increased transparency, accountability, and trust with funders and investors
- Employees who are empowered to make effective decisions
- More time spent on insights, less time spent on data management
- Culture of experimentation, informed by data
“Brandi is a highly skilled evaluation consultant, presenter and group facilitator. She brings a practical knowledge, steeped in a strong base of theoretical and technical evaluation background, to audiences who are in various stages of learning about the value of evaluation and measurement. Her presentation style sets audiences at ease, engages and encourages a flow of interaction and sharing the deepens the learning experience for all. I highly recommend her for work with groups of all ages, sizes and compositions.”
Greg Herzog, Grants Administrator, Office of Justice Programs, State of Minnesota
"Brandi Olson Consulting provided a great balance of knowledge in the fields of youth development and data-driven program design. The impact measurement process resulted in our program having a clear connection between instruction, evaluation and ongoing quality improvement."
Joani Essenburg, Executive Director, Banyan Community
Data-informed stories that build engagement
Storytelling is much more an act of sharing than telling. It always begins with empathy and a deep understanding of who you are sharing stories with. The most effective organizational stories combine data, emotion, and empathy to explain and engage audiences. Whenever you need someone to take action, an opportunity for storytelling exists--whether that’s internal action from a board, external action from a funder, or engagement from your community. We take a human-centered approach to storytelling with data, grounded in great design. The result is clarity in your message and engagement with your audience.
Common solutions implemented are data storytelling strategies, data visualizations, annual reports, presentation design, communication templates, data dashboards, infographics, brand storytelling, storybanking,communications strategy, grant strategy, grant writing, and grant reporting.
Benefits and Results
- Data visualizations that powerfully and simply make your point
- Reports and presentations that engage hearts and minds
- Strategy, evaluation, reporting, and communication that is integrated with strategy and supported by data
- Diverse and sustainable funding
- Storytelling championed by the entire organization, not just the marketing or fundraising team
“Brandi far exceeded my expectations on the data visualization project we were working on together. I have been so impressed by her professionalism, clear communication, and orientation to detail. She had an incredible vision, and she was able turn that vision into a finished and effective data story. I look forward to working with her again in the future, and would highly recommend her!”
Kate Saumweber Hogan Owner & Midwife, Twin Cities Midwifery
A decision to work with me is an invitation to collaborate. I co-create a process with each of my partners.
I don’t know you, your team, or your mission well enough (yet) to presume to know exactly what you’ll need and how long it will take. But I know how to figure it out. It starts with some good questions and a lot of listening, which is what we’ll do in an exploratory session (which is always complimentary).
If you are looking for a cookie-cutter recipe or an expert to come in and tell you what to do, we probably won’t be a good fit.
If you are looking for a conversation partner, deeper insights, and a process that is driven by your strengths and evolving needs, we’ll have a lot to talk about.