Tag Archives: BHPMSS

Compromise, relationships and faith

Part three of a three-part series on private/public partnerships

Embrace, fundraising, public private partnership, how to build a private public partnership, Bayview Hunters Point Multipurpose Senior Services, BHPMSS,Saad&Shaw: What role should board members be prepared to play in developing such a partnership?

Cathy Davis: Board members have to be willing to accept greater scrutiny and more responsibility for understanding the legal implications of the partnership(s). There are many changing parts, so board members have to be willing to utilize the legal consultants and move forward at critical stages. They also need to increase fundraising capacity and promote the agency.

Saad&Shaw: In your opinion, what types of nonprofits are more suited to such partnerships?

Cathy Davis: Non-profits that are willing to take well-calculated risks are most suited to such partnerships. You have to be willing to be flexible and grow as the partnership grows. Everything will not go your way, and you have to be willing to compromise. Political connections are important for public partnerships that involve governmental assistance. The agency has to be strong enough to stand up for what is needed. It also has to be able to compromise when it is in the best interest of the project moving forward.

Saad&Shaw: In your experience, are these partnerships designed to be short or long-term relationships?

Cathy Davis: Partnerships are long term relationships that develop over time. They are with agencies, not with personnel of any of the partners because individuals change jobs. You must get everything in writing, so when individuals leave, the commitments remain. For example, due to his passing, we lost our Executive Director in the middle of the process. Our agency was committed and I was selected as the new Executive Director. Having worked hand-in-hand with Dr. Davis, my husband, I was committed to expanding the long term partnerships. Partnerships are also about relationships and you have to continue to cultivate them. When personnel changes, you enroll the next person on the importance of the project and the previous promises made.

Saad&Shaw: What can a nonprofit expect to achieve through such a partnership?

Cathy Davis: A non-profit can take on bigger projects with partners than they could do otherwise. They are able to expand their knowledge base by adding partners with specific expertise that the nonprofit does not have. Each partner has access to resources that the non-profit does not have access to on their own. Some funders require expertise that a nonprofit doesn’t have or the non-profit has yet to experience.

Saad&Shaw: How does a nonprofit begin a conversation about a private/public partnership? Who initiates this conversation? Where do you go to find out information and opportunities? How did it begin for you?

Cathy Davis: The executive director needs to begin the conversation and enroll others in why the partnership is needed and who will benefit. In our case Dr. Davis decided on the vision and then found people who would help. He bypassed people who said it wouldn’t work and went to those who supported the idea. You find the help you need by following through on leads and making friends along the way. Political allies need to be cultivated and connected to your agency’s mission. The more we put it out there, the more opportunities came our way. It was important to us as a community-based organization that we solicit the partners we wanted to work with. We interviewed our development partners and ensured that we were considered their partner, not their charity.

Saad&Shaw: What have your learned from your experience that you want to share with others.

Cathy Davis: Don’t quit until the miracle happens! Many times along it way, it did not seem that it would happen. Never lose sight of why the partnership exists in the first place. There are people depending on you to come through. At some point the project becomes bigger than you and bigger than your agency. It takes a strong partnership with the community to make a big project happen. Insert yourself and ask questions. It is important not to sell out your principles for the easy way or for money that has too many strings attached. You have to believe it will happen before it happens. When all else fails, your faith and passion for the mission will carry you through.

Learn more about BHPMSS at http://bhpmss.org/

Did you miss:

Part One: How to Create a nonprofit partnership with private and public sectors

Part Two: Accountability and Trust: Keys to Partnership


Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.



Accountability and Trust: Keys to Partnership

Part two of a three-part series on private/public partnerships

BayviewSeniorHousing, fundraising, public private partnership, how to build a private public partnership, Bayview Hunters Point Multipurpose Senior Services, BHPMSS, African American fundraising

Bayview Senior Housing

An interview with Cathy Davis, executive director of Bayview Hunters Point Multipurpose Senior Services, Inc.

Saad&Shaw: Based on your experience, what does a nonprofit have to have in place in order for a private/public partnership to work?

Cathy Davis: A non-profit has to have its house in order to work with other partners. For an African American agency the stakes are higher and the bar is raised higher because of the general lack of trust given to African American based agencies. You have to work harder with less and maintain your integrity at all times. That is just the way it is and surrendering to it allows you to be prepared in the ways you need to be.

The public sector requires a great deal of accountability and as non-profit we had to prove our capacity to provide services and then be able to step into the partnership. You don’t have to be perfect, but you have to be willing to change and be more accountable.

Each partner has to recognize their strengths and weaknesses and be willing to rely on the partner with the best expertise. At some point you have to trust each other’s expertise.

Saad&Shaw: What are the challenges that a nonprofit may encounter in creating a private/public partnership?

Cathy Davis: There are many challenges for a non-profit to be in a good negotiating position with public and private partners.   The board has to understand the process and be willing to risk the agency’s credibility and finances along the way. Ultimately there are no guarantees: taking on large projects requires a leap of faith. Be ready to be called a “sellout” or a “greedy” non-profit by others who are not willing to partner with for- profits or the City. You will be tested and asked to support the efforts of the City: this goes with the territory if you want funding from them. You will be told you are “too small,” you have no experience doing this, or you are “over your head” – often in subtle ways.

Saad&Shaw: What were the advantages of creating a private/public partnership?

Cathy Davis: We needed each other to make the project happen. As a local non-profit we know what the community needs and were able to garner political support. The developer had the financial clout and expertise to build it. The City had access to funding, understood the process of working with other city departments, and was able to sell the project to city officials. We were able to access $58million for our project through City, State and low income housing tax credits. Our agency had no history in housing development and we were able to create the partnerships to make this happen for the community.

Next week: Compromise, relationships and faith

Did you miss Part 1: How to create a partnership with public and private sectors

Learn more about BHPMSS at http://bhpmss.org/

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.

How to create a nonprofit partnership with private and public sectors

Part one of a three part series

Cathy Davis

Cathy Davis, Executive Director, BHPMSS, Inc

Private/public partnerships are promoted as a collaborative way to bring people and resources together across sectors. A recent example of public/private partnership is the development of senior housing in San Francisco’s Bayview Hunters Point community. We are proud to be affiliated with this project and have witnessed the many twists and turns it has taken over the years. We asked Cathy Davis, the executive director of the Bayview Hunters Point Multipurpose Senior Services, Inc. (BHPMSS) to share the specifics of her partnership so that you, our readers, can begin to imagine what a partnership could look like for your organization or institution. Her story is specific to her community: your story will be specific to the community and people you serve.

Saad&Shaw – Please share with us the importance of the senior housing that BHPMSS and its partners are building.

Cathy Davis: The new senior housing will make it possible for seniors to age in a secure and familiar place — their own community — close by to friends and family. The housing is part of our vision for an Aging Campus, a concept that is already reflected in many of our current programs. When fully completed, our new supportive housing and state-of-the-art senior center will offer Bayview seniors everything necessary to make their lives comfortable and fulfilling, including: affordable housing, a safe and nurturing environment; a wide choice of planned activities (recreational, spiritual and educational); special events; preventive healthcare services; and excellent daily nutrition. We will continue the exceptional level of care for which BHPMSS is already well known: a compassionate and caring staff; a safe, secure and comfortable environment; accessible transportation; exciting field trip adventures; and creative programs and community events.

Saad&Shaw: Please describe the private public partnership that BHPMSS created, who the partners are and how each benefits the community and each of the partners?

Cathy Davis: BHPMSS initiated the public partnership for our new housing and senior center through Dr. George Davis (my husband), who was a community organizer, gerontologist and political strategist. He had a vision for what he wanted and he was willing to tell everyone about it. He enrolled the board of directors, staff, all the city officials, politicians and the community at large in creating the “Aging Campus”.

Our developer became our partner because of their respect for community building. As a for-profit developer they work with community non-profits, rather than compete with them. We found that many non-profit developers do not need another non-profit to support their work because they have the non-profit designation.

Our relationship with the City is longstanding: we are advocates and they are a funder. We attended numerous meetings, workshops and listening sessions to advocate for what was needed in our community. City funders utilize a community process and you have to be willing to play the game, the way it is played. The City benefits from a large community process that includes stakeholders and points the way.  They want to fund popular ideas that have widespread support and solve a problem.

Saad&Shaw: What is your definition of a private/public partnership?

Cathy Davis: A private/public partnership benefits all parties working together for a common purpose that ultimately benefits the intended clients. Each party has their own interest that has to be served in order to move forward. Collectively they have to be able to work as a team.

Testimonial video about BHPMSS senior housing – meet the people who helped make the vision and the dream come true.

Next week: Accountability and trust

Learn more about BHPMSS at http://bhpmss.org/

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.