Why a Grantmaking Organization Decided to Try Scrum

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I have been a Community Review Panel member for the United Way of Northern New York for the past nine years. With my background as a Program Officer for the Michigan Women’s Foundation (a statewide grantmaking organization) early in my career, I always love the opportunity to serve as a reviewer. Add in that it is for my own local community and I’ll be there every time. Well, as a result, I’ve seen the United Way of Northern New York go through a few leadership transitions over the years as two Executive Directors have retired during this time.


The new Executive Director and CEO, Jamie Cox, came to the Northern New York community from Texas where he had been running a multi-service community organization. Pair that experience with his background in the Marines and his MBA and it is a recipe for new success in the organization. 


The Scrum framework is heavily focused on empiricism. Using data to help make decisions. Nonprofit organizations are so rich in the data they collect from clients they serve to donors that support their work. We were curious to hear from Jamie about how United Way of Northern New York would be measuring and tracking their success moving forward now that they have implemented the Scrum framework. Here are some of Jamie’s thoughts on this approach for your consideration.

Having been on the grant seeking side of the equation in a previous role, Jamie believes that experience has brought a sensitivity to his role as the CEO for United Way of Northern New York as he can stand in for the stakeholder (the nonprofit applicant). This is a great example of how a Product Owner brings the needs of the customer/stakeholder into the process of delivering impact to a nonprofit’s community. You can hear more about Jamie’s advice for grantmakers to consider related to the role that their stakeholders play in their work here.


More than just focusing on grantmakers, Jamie has thoughts that apply to all nonprofit leaders on why they should adopt Agile principles and the Scrum framework. In fact, Jamie suggests nonprofit leaders “get smart on Scrum.” We couldn’t agree more! Here are Jamie’s full thoughts on why would Executive Directors/CEOs/Board Presidents consider Agile and the Scrum framework:


You can see the full interview with Jamie here:



What questions do you have about using the Scrum framework to help meet your grant seeking organization? We’d love to help! Share your comments and questions in the comments section and our team will be sure to answer and help you with implementing the Scrum framework in your team.