Girls Rock Charlotte

Girls Rock Charlotte Implements National Model in the Queen City

Founded in 2014, Girls Rock Charlotte instills confidence and compassion in program participants, encouraging them to rock their voice, standing up for themselves and for each other. Through summer camps, workshops and retreats, the organization amplifies the voices of girls, women, and gender diverse youth & adults.

National Model, Local Implementation

Girls Rock is a national nonprofit framework of loosely-affiliated local organizations that work from a unified brand and programming platform. Unlike other national-level nonprofits, Girls Rock encourages local affiliates to design and implement programming that fits the needs of their communities. But the opportunity that comes with local autonomy is balanced by a challenge – local affiliates are on their own to determine how best to sustain their operations.

After three years of work to establish a foothold in Charlotte’s competitive youth-serving nonprofit space, Girls Rock Charlotte founder and Executive Director Kelly Finley knew she needed to plan for the long-term. A professor at UNC Charlotte, Finley knew she did not intend to make Girls Rock Charlotte her full-time job. To ensure the long-term sustainability of the organization, she and her modest cadre of volunteers and board members engaged Next Stage to help map a multi-year plan.


Building a Proper Base

It is rare for a nonprofit founder to work with Next Stage to develop a strategic plan and then implement it almost exactly as designed during the planning process. But that is precisely what Finley and her board of directors did following an intensive series with Next Stage in 2016.

Next Stage helped Kelly identify the growth path that made the most sense for implementation in the Charlotte community and her aims to create a sustainable organization she could hand off to a full-time Executive Director within seven years. Next Stage is very experienced in helping emerging organizations “professionalize” through the development of a strategic business plan.

The plan called for building a strong board of directors with volunteers sourced from area corporations and peer networks. New fundraising strategies were mapped to encourage peer-to-peer individual contributions and sponsorships by area companies. Finally, the plan called for gradually building out a staffing model to mature the all-volunteer infrastructure.


Repeat Clients are the Best Clients

Next Stage has taken to measuring its success less by the sheer number of clients served (130 and counting!), but rather by the satisfied clients who return again and again. Such was the swell of pride when Finely reached out to the firm in 2019 to reengage Next Stage to facilitate a leadership retreat for Girls Rock Charlotte.

Imagine the surprise when the professionalizing plan that was meant to take seven years to complete was already largely accomplished within three years. Finley and her board of directors had succeeded at attracting well-positioned board members, activated fundraising events and campaigns, and had built a staffing model to help to sustain the organization into the future.

As a result, Girls Rock Charlotte was preparing to open their new facility – a renovated house in the NoDa neighborhood of Charlotte that it had secured with the support of community leaders and companies. The retreat’s topic? How to monetize the new facility to further drive the bottom line for the organization.

Working from its established understanding of Girls Rock Charlotte’s business model, Next Stage was able to nimbly jump in as a thought partner and facilitator to design an updated multi-year plan for revenue growth.

“Next Stage has provided valuable insights for our organization. The integration of their research of comparable organizations along with their insights as to how to distill this information into best-practices for own organization proved invaluable and effective. The enthusiasm and encouragement that Next Stage maintains for our organization remains one of their strongest attributes. It truly means a lot when you know that they want to see your organization succeed. The firm understands who we are as an organization, our vision and our passion. They always encourage and remind us to remain focused on our goals and ambition. They never tried to make us like a similar organization - they understood what made us unique and encouraged us to leverage that quality in the community and our outreach.”
Kelly Finley,

Executive Director, Girls Rock Charlotte