Today marks the 3rd and final installment of our “Getting to Know the Reviewers” blog series. We’re excited to introduce our readers to Hedrick Belin, President of the Potomac Conservancy (a Catalogue charity) and 4-time Catalogue reviewer. Approximately one-quarter of our review team is comprised of members from peer nonprofits. Between these reviewers, members from foundations, corporate giving programs, other partner organizations and philanthropists, the Catalogue team is always confident in the work of this group to help us determine which small charities are truly “the very best” in Greater Washington.
What do you enjoy most about reviewing nonprofits for the Catalogue?
Hedrick Belin, Potomac Conservancy: It lets me see what other innovative conservation groups are undertaking to clean our air, safeguard our drinking water supply and protect wildlife. There are many amazing groups making a real difference in our overall quality of life with very few financial resources. Every spring, I come away re-energized after spending a weekend reading through a dozen applications.
What is one piece of advice you would give to future Catalogue applicants?
Hedrick: Specifics matter. Assume the reviewer does not know anything about your organization. What can you put in your application that shows the concrete impacts and on-the-ground differences that your organization is making? Quantify by including lots of metrics to demonstrate you are not just a nice organization doing nice things, but are really filling a community need and making a difference when it comes to changing lives or improving the community. Make it easy for me to recognize immediately that you are one of the best.
What is one piece of advice you would give to new/future Catalogue reviewers?
Hedrick: Come with an open mind, but a critical eye. The Catalogue is supposed to represent the best small non-profits in Washington, DC, not every small non-profit. You should be open to innovative approaches to solving some of the chronic problems in the region, but also read the applications carefully to see which groups have the best return on investment.
How has being a reviewer had an impact on your views of philanthropy in Greater Washington?
Hedrick: The region is blessed with an incredibly strong non-profit sector that is getting stronger every year. I’m constantly impressed with the passionate individuals fighting every day on the front lines to build a more just and sustainable world and have seen the power of this sector to change lives and save lives. The larger non-profits that have been around for decades tend to get the press, but the non-profits that the Catalogue selects deserve to be recognized as well for the tremendous difference they are making in our local communities.
What do you feel your unique background brings to the Catalogue review process?
Hedrick: As an Executive Director, I quickly assess organizational alignment. Do the organizational mission, vision and strategies tie together in a concise, compelling way? Is there a clear theory of change that the organization is employing to drive every decision?As a former consultant working with over 100 social purpose organizations across the non-profit spectrum, I’ve developed an ability to evaluate the entities’ efficacy and impact by looking at a few key answers in the application. For example, I look at the size and composition of the board. I also look at revenue streams, both in terms of diversity of sources and also if they have the revenue engine to drive the short and long-term goals listed in question.