Characteristics of Empowerment Organizations

The way an organization is situated and constructed plays a huge role in how it will grow and its longevity. Some can compare it to the classic saying of building on sand verse to being built on concrete. We know from common sense that if you build on sand, your foundation will be very poor. To the contrary, if you build on concrete, your foundation will be solid, and it will have longevity. A certain amount of foresight along with measurable planning is required when it comes to the formation of a business. When you add in the factor that you will be helping those that are unable to help themselves, you must then hold yourself to a higher standard. If you add the fact that individuals, private funders, and government agencies are providing you with funds, and the level of accountability is heighten and transparency is demanded for success. This is the many factors that a nonprofit organization must deal with regularly. In this essay I will discuss the details of one of the biggest nonprofit organizations in New York City, CAMBA.

According to their website, “CAMBA is a non-profit agency that provides services that connect people with opportunities to enhance their quality of life” (https://www.camba.org/about/missionandvalues). They go on to state on their about page that “Many New Yorkers face daily hurdles such as housing instability, living with HIV/AIDS, language barriers, domestic violence, and insufficient job skills. Since 1977, CAMBA has helped New Yorkers transform their lives by providing holistic programs to individuals, families and communities” (https://www.camba.org/about). Because CAMBA is a nonprofit organization, it does not have to focus on profits or income and therefore can focus more on achieving goals that are aligned with their mission. Majority of their funding comes from private donors, grants, and government funding. Because CAMBA is a nonprofit organization, they have the 501c3 status which makes them a tax-exempt company. This is according to the module 1 slide (Nonprofit NGO).

Regarding its organizational ecosystem, CAMBA plays a huge role in impacting the communities in which it is located and vice versa. One of the ways CAMBA impacts the community is by hiring members of the community and hiring past clients. By hiring past clients, they provide them with a means to provide for themselves and their families. An example of this would be Ernestine Washington, a once-homeless mother, has become a housing advocate at CAMBA, helping to place hundreds of people in permanent housing during her career” (https://www.camba.org/Pages/careers/Careers0831-6996.aspx).  CAMBA also hires felonies and provides them with a second chance at life and a means to provide for themselves and their families legally. CAMBA is also located in a central urban area, which is easy to locate on Church Ave in Brooklyn. By being located on a busy street in an urban area, the people of the community are much more familiar with them.

CAMBA has a pyramid type form of management like other companies. At the very top of the company is the President and CEO Joanne M. Oplustil. She is whom many would say is the face of the company. Second in line would be the Vice Presidents and CEOs. Then would come the other Executive Directors and Board Members. There would also be Program Directors and Executive Directors for the individual programs that are being serviced. Under the Program Directors would be the directors of operations, directors of social services or clinical directors, and so on. Under them would be department supervisors, the licensed social workers, the caseworkers and case managers, maintained and other workers needed for everyday operations. All these individuals would be many different units working as one to achieve the goals of the company. This is what an organization is, many different people that come together with one central goal to achieve it together.

The organizational structure in CAMBA is used to benefit not only the client, but also the worker. It provides everyone with a system of checks and balances. If a worker is having a dispute with another worker, they can go to their immediate supervisor to resolve the issue. If there is not a relief, they can then go to the director for relief and even human resources. Similar as well, the clients can go through different channels for relief internally and externally. An example of this is, if a client is not satisfied with the assistance that he or she is receiving at a CAMBA shelter, they can always go to their funder which is the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) for relief. This system of checks and balances provides us with a form of accountability for everyone involved.

Because CAMBA is a nonprofit that receives government and private funding, they must be transparent with their finances and spending. For this reason, an annual report is released every year with all this information to the public. This information is posted online, and you can see all their donors and the salaries of their employees, including the executives. CAMBA also holds monthly meetings with clients and employees to receive feedback on the company, management, and operations. This provides everyone with a space to speak openly and use the constructive criticism to make future adjustments and improvement. Employees are also provided with content training to improve their abilities to service clients.

Overall CAMBA is a strong organization and is growing rapidly. They employ hundreds of people including those that are from the local community, past clients, and felons. They work to improve the community and located within the community they serve in close reach of the people. Like every company, they have their faults as well, but they make space for improvements.

References:

  1. Lecture Slides: Module 1- Engaging with Organizations
  2. CAMBA.org

 

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