Coaching for a Cause: The Women's Resource of Greater Houston Takes on the Lost Cause of Empowering Women and Girls in Houston, Texas

November 17, 2009 // Franchising.com // Las Vegas, NV - When confronted with the fact that less than 5% of philanthropic dollars were going to women and girl's causes, a group of women passionate about the cause of empowering women in Houston, Texas decided to do something to ensure Houston did not fall prey to the national trend. The founders gathered like-minded women who contributed their own money to build and establish The Greater Houston Women's Foundation in 1990.

The organization presented its first grants and commissioned annual research on significant issues facing women and girls in Houston in 1992. The organization is based on the belief that a woman who controls her finances controls her destiny. So in order to further this mission, it created a series of free, financial education classes for Houston women.

"In 2003, we stopped making grants and shifted our resources to building partnerships that further our mission," Executive Director La Tanya Flix said. During this time, it also changed its name to The Women's Resource of Greater Houston to reflect the new focus.

"Two decades later, it is run by a staff of two; we are still committed to the founders' goal of helping women and girls become financially self-sufficient." Flix said. "To date, we have taught more than 11000 individuals the basics of personal finance and published 12 significant research papers authored by some of the city's leading universities."

As part of its programs, the organization teaches free financial education classes at local nonprofits, libraries, businesses and government agencies using the FDIC Money SmartTM curriculum. One of its key programs, Project LEAD is a leadership development and financial education program for high-risk 9th and 10th grade girls in eight area schools. In addition to its educational programs, The Women's Resource of Greater Houston continues to commission research focusing on issues critical to women, girls and families.

The need for this organization is evident.: Eight percent of Houstonians live in a household that does not use a financial institution and 51% of residents in five minority Houston neighborhoods do not have a banking relationship. The problem for low income women is even worse as those making less than $25,000 report six to seven emergencies per year averaging $300.

"Yet, we run into major challenges when it comes to building a large base of donors and retaining those donors," Flix said.

This is the reason Business Coach Doug Winnie, who also sits on the Board of the organization, decided to coach them through this major roadblock using the systems established by the world's leading business coaching firm, ActionCOACH.

The timing could not have been better as ActionCOACH announced the Coaching for a Cause initiative at its global conference on August 1 in Sydney, Australia. This is the company's first pro bono coaching program, which will help bring the tried, tested and proven business coaching systems and methodologies to the not-for-profit and charitable sectors of the economy.

The program is scheduled to run from October 1, 2009 through March 31, 2010, during which time the goals of this coaching process will be recorded live on its official website. By pledging to donate hours to non-profits and charities, top Business Coaches are providing a value of 1.8 million; their overall goal is to help their respective organizations raise at least an additional 2.5 million in donations and funds over this six-month period.

"Through this process, my aim is to allow the Executive Director position to spend much more time working 'on' the non-profit instead of 'in' it," Winnie said. "A lot of her time has been spent doing the day-to-day activities so she has not been able to focus as much attention as she would like on broadening the donor base."

Winnie has pledged to donate over five hours a month to The Women's Resource of Greater Houston with the goals of helping them raise membership by 20%, the number of donors by 20%, traffic to their website by 25%, and an overall goal of increasing donations of the annual appeal by 15% over this six-month period.

"I will achieve this by enabling Flix to leverage her volunteers and generate new ideas on increasing donations to exceed the current goals they had planned to achieve prior to working with me," Winnie said.

Winnie is excited about the Coaching for a Cause program, which he believes will provide another dimension to pro bono work.

"Coaching for a Cause is a fantastic way to give back to the community," he said. "I have a vision of employing a full-time coach who will be working entirely with charities. When I have grown my own business to the point of a firm, I will be creating this position and I can't wait."

Flix is confident business coaching will allow the Women's Resource to reach its goals by building a larger donor base -allowing her to enhance marketing efforts and focus on strengthening their brand at the same time. She is grateful for ActionCOACH's corporate initiative.

"While I have heard of consultants doing pro bono work with charities and non-profits in the past, this is a rare opportunity," she said. "Coaching for a Cause is truly unique."

Coaching for a Cause is an innovative, new program from ActionCOACH, the world's number one business and executive coaching firm that makes pro-bono coaching available to charities and non-profits worldwide.

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