Before joining DVNF, I saw an organization with loads of potential, but a need for more structure, more transparency, and more efficiency.
DVNF had several items that needed to be addressed, and I believe that in the first six months of my tenure as CEO, we have made significant strides in improving the entire organization.
Some issues remain works in progress, but after 6 months since I took the reins of DVNF, I am pleased to report substantial progress has been made in every facet of the organization!
1. Wrote a business plan for DVNF
I really wanted to get the organization’s ducks in a row, so to speak. In addition to the many important changes we needed it make, it was crucial to have a well-developed business plan for the organization.
This business plan contains our vision for where we hope to be in the coming years, both programmatically and financially. One of the major determining factors of the organization’s growth is the success of our Benefits and Resources Navigation program. If it becomes as successful as I believe, DVNF will indeed have a bright future.
2. Created a new organizational chart to reflect the growing needs of DVNF
When I began my initial evaluation of the organization’s many parts, it became clear that there was a need for greater coordination and clearer lines of authority and accountability. The organizational structure was simply not keeping up with our increasing activity.
Now, we have an organizational chart that creates greater role clarity and management accountability, which will be particularly important as we continue building out our program activities and growing the staff.
3. Created & implemented a new core of operations known as Benefits & Resources Navigation (BaRN)
During my time as the Wounded Warrior Regiment Sergeant Major in the Marines, I became well-versed in the benefits that service members are eligible for, as well as the many resources outside the VA that seek to help active duty military and veterans.
Fortunately and unfortunately, there are so many resources available to men and women who have served that they often don’t know where to look if they have a pressing need. There were other times that I noticed these individuals weren’t always clear on how to ask for help.
That’s why I created BaRN. I wanted to have “Navigators” in the office who could evaluate the circumstances of a veteran and work with some of the veteran’s local resources who are equipped to address many needs they frequently have.
As part of this, I also:
- Evaluated all programs and policies
- Wrote desktop procedures for all programs
- Hired a new Office Manager, who has:
-Developed a new filing system
-Developed new office management procedures
-Evaluated & created new QuickBooks procedures
4. Hired many new staff members. All staff members are trained to be HIPAA compliant due to the delicate nature of the needs of the veterans we serve.
Everyone on our staff is trained in HIPAA rules and procedures, not only as a legal safeguard, but also as a measure of good faith. We want the veterans who approach DVNF to put their trust in our staff, and know that we won’t be careless with their personal information.
5. Hired two Navigators in the last six months. Both Navigators are trained in:
Non-Medical Case Management
Tri-Care medical organization
Marriage & Family
Recovery Care Coordinators (RCC)
Not only are our Navigators well trained, they are also extremely patient and caring individuals. I am so pleased at how their hard work is making a real difference in the lives of veterans, and I know that these veterans are very appreciative as well.
6. Hired DVNF’s first Development Director
As mentioned previously, the main priority was to make our fundraising strategy more efficient and more transparent. That’s why I hired Barfonce Baldwin.
She is an established professional with over 10 years of experience in nonprofit fundraising and development. Her mandate is to sustain a strong and viable donor cultivation program and to develop new sources of revenue, including major donors, foundation grants and corporate gifts. She hit the ground running and has already proved to be an indispensible asset to DVNF’s present and future of helping veterans in need.
7. Increased DVNF’s program giving:
Grants to Provide Stability: Our GPS program provides funding to qualified veterans when they are in a temporary financial setback. This year, we have already helped close to 50 veterans in dire need. Many of which have been able to escape the risk of becoming homeless.
Wellness & Morale Program: This program send basic items such as clothing, food, water, and health and hygiene supplies to Stand Down Events and homeless shelters around the country. The program is currently up more than 35% from last year.
BaRN: Since the program launched in October 2013, DVNF has helped more than 86 veterans. To see the impact this program has had on the lives of veterans, take a look at http://www.dvnf.org/have-you-been-helped-by-dvnf/.
8. Redesigned DVNF’s Website:
The face of an organization is its website, and DVNF needed a big time facelift! We have now launched a new website to make it more manageable, more aesthetic, and just better overall.
We also added new services on the website to help people use our website as their own personal resource for what they are looking for. Veterans can now find some basic benefits and resources information they may find useful.
9. Developed New Relationships:
We are collaborating with a new retail startup company, G.I. Joe Coffee. They are a veteran-owned, veteran-operated company that wants their business to be of benefit to veterans.
G.I. Joe is donating money to DVNF from select bags of their coffee, which will go to programs that benefit veterans. We are proud to call them a friend and corporate sponsor and are excited about the possibilities of this relationship.
We have also embarked on an important project with the Human Engineering Research Laboratories (HERL) at the University of Pittsburgh. Under the leadership of Dr. Rory Cooper, HERL has done work and research that has directly impacted countless numbers of disabled veterans. When I heard that HERL needed a new piece of manufacturing equipment to further their development of state of the art wheelchairs and other adaptive devices, I told Dr. Cooper that he could count on DVNF.
Our goal is to raise $50,000 for HERL so they can continue improving the quality of life for so many people.
10. Gold Sponsor for the Marine Corps Trials, DVNF provided:
300 Hygiene Kits
300 Sheets & Pillow Cases (Bedding)
300 Athletic Towels
Gift Cards totaling $10,000
Final total: More than $30,000
It has been a fast-paced and lively 6 months at DVNF. I feel that we are now on track to becoming one of the most trusted names in helping the men and women who have served in our armed forces.
I am committed to making DVNF accountable in every aspect of its business. I truly look forward to the next 6 months, and beyond!
Joseph VanFonda (SgtMaj Ret.)