Doing Our Part - Supporting Those Working to Eradicate Domestic Violence

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Our work at Luminare Group is in service to others. However, some engagements give us closer proximity to efforts and people which save lives. At the moment we have four projects which fall under consulting (strategy formation). They are with organizations whose missions seek to eradicate interpersonal relationship violence, particularly for women: California Partnership to End Domestic Violence, Human Options, Vermont Network and California Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

We are also lucky to continue to be in partnership with the Blue Shield of California Foundation, undertaking a study (pushing practice) in hopes of making funders and organizations/networks/movements engaged in strategy work better users and consumers of consultants and the tools and processes we bring. This work began last year with core funding from BSCF and supplemental support from Move to End Violence.  

In the wake of #MeToo, in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month and as a practice of women, we are lifting up lessons learned/observations from our work with client partners such as these striving to make this world a safer place for us all.

5 LESSONS LEARNED:

1. The naming of problem/issue being addressed is often easier than anticipated. This clarity sets the stage for surfacing assumptions and often changes the nature of outcomes and elevates strategies.

Tip: Starting here (not with mission or vision) opens up the conversation in ways that recognize the social, political and historical decisions and structures which contribute to interpersonal/domestic violence.

2. Humanity and humor are vital to deepening connections and thinking, lightening tensions and finding alignment.

Tip: Check-ins matter. The right question with the right amount of time can quickly reduce anxiety and create community before the hard work begins.

3. Board composition (e.g., member organizations vs. individual donors), its maturity and whether it operates at a strategic or operational level affect the nature of conversations, clarity of intention and, often times, the success of the engagement.

Tip: It’s critical to recognize the nature of the Board and to determine if complementary training or organizational development is needed before engaging in strategy work. If they are not ready, it will surface during the process. Trust us.

4. Strategy first. Planning second.

Tip: This is not news to many, but it can be challenging. Clearly stating the why, to what end and the how of this work (DV/SA) is hard. It surfaces the historical messages, systems and structures which reinforce violence in this country. That being said, understanding that reality, stating your role in that space and what drives the work is a powerful statement. The shift to annual planning to understand what needs to be done, in what time frame and what resources are needed to actualize that work becomes much more meaningful and relevant.

5. There is a power and joy in co-creation and the execution of strategy that includes staff, board members, volunteers, funders and other stakeholders that shifts what is possible.  

Tip: When there is a cross representation in the strategy design that shifts to a Board committee for implementation, there is greater likelihood of cultural transformation and internalization of the practices and intentions which support the mission.

On behalf of the Luminare Group I want to thank all of those who do and have done this work. If our lessons learned advance your efforts that would be a gift to us.