We caught up with the brilliant and insightful Kevin Pranoto a few weeks ago and have shared our conversation below.
Kevin, looking forward to hearing all of your stories today. One of the most important things small businesses can do, in our view, is to serve underserved communities that are ignored by giant corporations who often are just creating mass-market, one-size-fits-all solutions. Talk to us about how you serve an underserved community.
Mission Oak Cliff commits to breaking the cycle of poverty in the Oak Cliff community. As an expression of Christ’s love, we improve food security, encourage meaningful relationships, & teach life skills.
As always, we appreciate you sharing your insights and we’ve got a few more questions for you, but before we get to all of that can you take a minute to introduce yourself and give our readers some of your back background and context?
My name is Kevin Pranoto and I am the Executive Director of Mission Oak Cliff (MOC). At MOC, we serve the community through 4 program pillars: food services, homeless services, adult education, and mental health services. Over 15,000 people come to Mission Oak Cliff requesting assistance for basic needs throughout the year.
I was interested in social justice from an early age. Since I was a young child, I always felt a keen sense of right versus wrong and was drawn towards people who were often left out. This passion for social justice carried me through my graduate studies, which eventually led me towards the path of becoming a licensed social worker. One of the core values of the social work profession is the importance of human relationships. I take that core value very seriously. When I meet new people, I often take the opportunity to cultivate a relationship. You never know who you come across and how they might help you (or you help them) on life’s journey. Those connections might lead to friendships or even career opportunities. All the jobs that I’ve had are a result of the networks I have built.
At MOC, we pride ourselves on treating every person with dignity and respect. No matter their background, disability, race, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity, we honor them. Our clients have relationship with us and trust us. We train our volunteers to be sensitive towards matters of diversity and the issues impacting people living in poverty. We try to greet each person by name, knowing that so many of our clients are often ignored by society. Furthermore, we also emphasize listening and laughing with our clients. What we provide is not a transaction of services, but a relationship that is mutually transformative. The people we serve have just as much to teach us as we have resources to share with them. It is important to me that the team at MOC reinforces the God-given value and worth of every person who walks through our doors.
I am proud by the way we have continued to grow in this culture of upholding dignity and encouraging relationships even through the pains of the pandemic. Despite the massive growth in our client population, we did not compromise on our core values as an organization. We continued to meet the need while constantly evaluating how we can continue to connect with our clients as real humans. I am also proud how our organization was not afraid to grow during the pandemic. We doubled our budget, launched new programs, and equipped our clients with more resources to help them maintain stability in the midst of uncertain times. Our community remained resilient and did not back away from the challenge.
Any advice for managing a team?
I believe that a healthy team is one where every person believes in the mission of the organization and trusts each other. In order to manage a team well, the leader of the team needs to be able to make sure that every person is on board and in alignment with the mission of the organization. The team at Mission Oak Cliff is so effective in their work because they are drawn to our organizational mission. It is something they are passionate about, which drives them towards excellence. The mission not only keeps us accountable to the work we are doing, but it also sets the boundaries for our work. When people come to volunteer with our organization, they can sense the compassion we have for our clients, which gets them excited about helping us.
Relationship is also at the core of our team. We are able to trust each other because we have relationship with each other. Throughout the day, we constantly communicate with each other, not just about work, but also about our lives. We laugh with each other and support one another. This culture of relationship cultivates a sense of trust with one another. So, when things get challenging, we have a base of trust to work with. We know how to communicate our needs and know how to encourage and motivate each other. I think that laughter is the way we keep morale high. We don’t take ourselves too seriously and we laugh through the stress we experience on the team. By keeping things light in the midst of immense pressure, we are able to reframe the situation and keep perspective on the tasks we need to accomplish.
How did you build your audience on social media?
When I first came on board as Executive Director of Mission Oak Cliff, we did not have a major social media presence. The only presence we had was a Facebook page that was not well kept. So, it was my conviction that we needed to increase our social media presence and be more intentional about how we market ourselves in order to attract potential donors, volunteers, and community advocates. Soon after I began my work at MOC, I created a website, revamped our Facebook page, and started an Instagram account. I chose to focus on these 3 platforms because I found these to be the most used platforms by our community.
When utilizing Facebook and Instagram, I believe that consistency and collaboration are key to building presence. Create a social media calendar and follow a schedule to remain consistent with your posts. People want to know what’s going on and be updated on the work of the agency. They like the feeling of being a part of something. The less consistent you are in your posts, the more likely your audience is to forget you. On the same token, I believe you can also create too many posts. Post too much and the posts lose their power. People will begin ignoring your posts if the posts lack meaning and intentionality.
Collaborating with other influencers and organizations can be a powerful tool for building presence on social media. Tagging partner organizations and sharing collaborative posts can be a great way to build your audience. Other organizations may have followers who have never heard of us before, and their sharing of our posts have increased our brand visibility and awareness.
Corrie Coleman Aune