Meghann Flynn Beer
By Carol White
Our “Five Questions” series highlights the expertise and individuality of our member consultants. Members are interviewed by an ACN peer. We hope this series will reveal the breadth, depth, and overall expertise of our membership!
A fundraising, strategy and evaluation consultant, a faculty member, and a seasoned nonprofit leader with significant international experience, you can find all of this in Meghann Beer. I spent time with Meghann recently, discovering how she has effortlessly brought together her varied interests and experiences to create a consulting practice with a holistic approach that integrates sometimes disparate pieces for and with her clients.
How would you describe your nonprofit career?
Meghann had a transformative experience volunteering in Kenya in 2003. About implementing programming through a local community development organization and she says, “It changed my perspective on the world and what I wanted to do in it”. During her time in Kenya, she saw not only the great need for nonprofits in local communities, but also the amount of infrastructure nonprofits need to succeed. Pursuing her newfound passion for global work, she earned an MPA in Nonprofit Management and International Affairs from Indiana University.
Her graduate degree led to a wonderful opportunity to serve as the first Executive Director of Giving Back to Africa, an education and community development organization with programs in the Democratic Republic of Congo. As the only US-based staff person, Meghann worked with the board to build the organization’s infrastructure from the ground up.
Eventually, Meghann returned to Indiana University to teach nonprofit management courses and she also began working with nonprofits on various consulting projects. She found that her teaching and her consulting practice complemented one another well as she was able to help both students and her clients see how the pieces – such as legal, fundraising, planning, and evaluation – fit together. Now based in Chicago, she’s focusing on her consulting practice and continues to teach at North Park University.
Do you feel especially suited to address certain types of questions/issues because you’ve worked on the non-profit side?
Meghann’s experience as leader of a small start-up organization allows her to see each client’s “big picture” and know how the parts have to be examined and developed to fit together. Her university teaching allows her to draw on academic best practices and, combined with her hands-on experience, she has made the notion of “fitting the pieces together” a guiding principle. Whether working on a strategic plan, a fund development plan, or an evaluation approach, she integrates the pieces, ensuring her work contributes to the overall success of her clients.
What have you noticed as you entered Chicago’s nonprofit sector?
Chicagoans will be happy to hear that Meghann has been pleasantly surprised at how welcoming and open Chicago has been. “People are more than willing to talk about what they do and what their organizations do. It’s a huge city and I’ve realized it’s more connected than I expected”. With a few key institutions, such as ACN, Axelson, and Donors Forum, she has been able to establish the beginnings of a well-connected network.
What recent engagement gives us the best opportunity to understand your work?
Meghann partners with Devine Consulting on various fundraising projects including currently working on a major gifts campaign for a workforce development organization. The campaign has been built around the organization’s desire to grow and has required fitting together diverse pieces of the organization’s strategic plan, fundraising, volunteer management, infrastructure, and evaluation.
On the international front, Meghann has combined many of her own passions by working with a client to develop, implement, fund, and evaluate an international volunteer service program. The organization offers two-week service programs in Kenya. Meghann helped them create the organizational infrastructure to support the program and engage the volunteers, integrated the program with a dynamic fundraising method (teaching the volunteers to fundraise and crowdsource), and made sure there was a positive community impact. She is particularly proud of a school the volunteers built from the ground up in a rural Maasai village.
I have enjoyed getting to know Meghann Beer better and hope this post has helped you “get to know” her, too. I’m sure she would also welcome an email or call to connect with you.