by Randi Ilyse Roth, Executive Director

Joan Lipsitz, one of this country’s thought leaders in nonprofit effectiveness, once told me, “You’ll know your organization is successful when your programs start crosspollinating.”

I now understand what she meant because I see it happening at Interfaith Action!

Our Project Home families are attending our Community Power-Up sessions to learn how to reduce debt and build credit. Our Department of Indian Work referral specialist is sending

families to our Power-Up Legal Clinic to get landlord/tenant issues resolved. Our Project Home guests are working with our Opportunity Saint Paul partner, Daily Work, for job placement. Our Opportunity Saint Paul tutoring and homework help partners are letting students and parents know about everything Interfaith Action has to offer. We are all working together, and we are all looking out for each other.

It’s hard work to build an infrastructure of opportunity. We know what people need: education, shelter, stable housing, good nutrition, employment, child care, transportation. And since one entity cannot provide all of this, the more interconnected we are, the more useful we are to our neighbors. Together, we and our partners are weaving a web. If our guest or client needs something we don’t have, we usually know how to make the right connection. And because we’re so deeply rooted in community, we’re able to make a personal referral rather than just handing our guest a slip of paper with a phone number.

The faith community is at the center of this work. It’s hard for people to talk about really difficult problems without having trust, and in our experience, many people trust clergy. A table full of brochures provides information, but when clergy know the lawyers, the shelter, or the education program—and can share stories about how others have been helped—then that web of trusting relationships becomes a live network that people tap into to create real opportunities.

So Joan is right: the cross-pollination between Interfaith Action, our nonprofit partners, and our faith community is an important sign of success.