Understanding Community Functions, Methods, and Services

A community succeeds when its members share the community’s vision and purpose, a strong sense of affiliation and ownership, a stake in its decision-making, a desire to contribute within the community and advance its message to external networks. The community benefits from a solid infrastructure and responsive support team.

Understanding Community Functions, Methods, and Services

Watch Cheryl Collins and Ingvild Bjornvold explain how the behind-the-scenes parts and pieces work together to help ambassadors, especially new ones, be more engaged. Download the presentation slides here.

In this section, you’ll learn more about the community’s overarching principles; approaches for learning, creation, and development; dissemination and field-building efforts; and the infrastructure serving as its underpinnings. A clear understanding of the community’s functions, methods, and services helps ambassadors be more engaged and contributes to a stronger community.

Value of Collective Knowledge

The community is a unique forum for learning, knowledge creation, sharing, and connection because of the range of ambassadors’ experiences and knowledge across sectors, domains, and roles. Learn more about the ambassadors who make up the community here.

Quasi Self-Governance

Decision-making is distributed. Major decisions and initiatives are decided by consensus via extensive discussion and guidance from the community’s members. Published content is produced through  facilitated, iterative development and review processes. Community infrastructure, protocol, and distribution initiatives are generally directed by the Leap Ambassadors support team.


Ambassadors have the opportunity to provide feedback to set community direction in a number of ways. About once a year, ambassadors are requested to provide feedback on community direction and initiatives through a survey. Slates of ambassador candidates are vetted by the community, and all ambassadors have the chance to participate in the development and/or review of community products.

Collaborative Development

Our disciplined, collaborative approach gives ambassadors the opportunity to share their insights, have those insights augmented and constructively debated via community exchange, and produce thoughtful works that consider diverse viewpoints. Collaboratively developed products are the intellectual property (IP) of the community and Morino Institute is the provisional holder of Creative Commons License, copyright, and trademarks for the Leap Ambassadors Community.

Message and Product Dissemination

Messages about the community’s purpose and products are shared in a number of ways: a weekly email sent to 40,000+ individuals, including 8,000+ funders; Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn social media posts; and YouTube videos. Ambassadors amplify these messages through their own networks and communities.


Currently, the Morino Institute provides community support through team staffing, funding, and in-kind resources. Longer term, the community will explore increased ambassador ownership, expansion via partnerships, and potential consolidation with like-minded initiatives.

Community Functions and Processes

The functions and processes supporting the Ambassadors Community—its “community management architecture”—are built, maintained, and continuously improved by the Leap Ambassadors support team.

The architecture, aligned to the community’s vision and purpose, supports the community’s activities, and serves ambassadors and, more broadly, the social and public sectors they seek to influence.

Exchange, Learning, and Creation

The online forum, micro-communities, direct communications, collaboratively developed products and place-based convenings provide opportunities for ambassadors to engage, learn, and create.

Learning, collaboration, and collective knowledge are cornerstones of the online forum and all active ambassadors participate, following the 70-20-10 rule of community participation. Leap Ambassadors have access to and participate to the degree they choose in the community’s online forum, where dialogue centers on the overarching topic of high performance.

Micro-communities (MCs) allow a subset of ambassadors with a shared interest to collaborate on a specific topic or project and then share their results or findings with the full community. Examples of micro-communities include collaborative product development MCs (e.g., Performance Imperative Editorial Oversight), organic issue-based MCs (e.g., the Performance Imperative for Small Nonprofits), and governance MCs (e.g., Growing Community).

The Leap Ambassadors support team uses a direct email channel to communicate individually with ambassadors to provide updates, request feedback, and share announcements about key actions, issues, stories, and progress.

A process of facilitated exchange, rigorous discussion, peer review, and editorial oversight engages the community’s collective knowledge to develop a range of community products. With the Performance Imperative as the foundation, community products include funder profiles, kickstarters, ambassador insights, and performance-in-practice stories.

The Leap Ambassadors Community is both high tech and high touch. In-person gatherings in home regions or at conferences allow ambassadors to connect with one another and continue to build relationships while discussing strategies and examples of high performance.

Dissemination and Field Building

It’s not enough to discuss the need for high performance within a vacuum. Spreading the word about ways in which courageous leaders can move their organizations on the journey and materials that can assist in their efforts must be shared broadly and deliberately. First and foremost, ambassadors are the voice of the community in their own communities and networks. Ambassadors “walk the talk” by demonstrating “performance matters” in their own work and actively encourage others to do the same—in their own words, time, and way.

The community’s message and products are shared with more than 40,000 individuals from 69 countries via email and social media channels. The monthly Leap of Reason Update serves as the primary source for community announcements and is augmented by weekly e-news messages from the Leap Ambassadors Community to activities and other initiatives in support of high performance in the social and public sectors. Social media channels include Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube.

The Leap Ambassadors support team manages ongoing outreach campaigns, including the Funding Performance campaign, the Performance Imperative/Performance Practice organizational improvement campaign, and the “Small, but Mighty: Performance Imperative for Small Nonprofits” campaign, which include emails, social media posts, guest blog posts, and selected webinars.

The Leap Ambassadors Community exists to help advance the efforts of others that closely align and/or complement its purpose. Aligned initiatives include Feedback Labs, Fund for Shared Insight, Giving Compass, Leap of Reason, National Council of Nonprofits, PropelNext, and Results for America.

The community seeks both internal and external feedback from constituents and stakeholders on an ongoing basis. Funder profiles and Performance in Practice stories shine a spotlight on leaders and organizations exhibiting the messages of high performance in their work. The community is always looking for testimonials and positive commentaries about community products (and it also welcomes thoughtful pushback and constructive critique in its efforts for continuous improvement). The Leap Ambassadors support team also tracks advocacy mentions, referrals, usage examples, and results from a number of sources.

 Foundation for the Community

A healthy community needs a strong foundation. Behind the scenes, there is a dedicated technology platform to allow for interaction, engagement, and dissemination; defined protocols and processes for governing community behaviors and managing the community effectively; and a responsive support team who strive for seamless operations.

The Leap Ambassadors support team supports the community infrastructure, services, and systems, including  project and activity management; editorial oversight and guidance to develop community products; online facilitation and curation of online discussion and interaction; introduction and/or connection of ambassadors, resources, initiatives, etc.; product packaging and dissemination; community administration; and technology and systems management.

Questions About the Community?

Contact a member of the Growing Community Team: Co-Leads for Onboarding and Engagement Linda Johanek (ljohanek@morino.com) or Liz Walters (lwalters@morino.com) or Community Manager Veronica Dubravetz (vdubravetz@morino.com) at 440-895-2950.


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