Hangin’ with Henry and talking about Heart vs. Head Fundraising

As most of you know, DonorDreams blog has dedicated the first Thursday of every month for almost the last year to featuring a short video from Henry Freeman, who is an accomplished non-profit and fundraising professional. We affectionately call this monthly series “Hangin’ With Henry”  because of the conversational format around which he has framed his online videos. This month we’re talking about Heart vs. Head Fundraising. I guess it only seemed appropriate with Valentine’s Day less than two weeks from now.

For those of you who subscribe to DonorDreams blog and get notices by email, you will want to click this link to view this month’s featured YouTube video. If you got here via your web browser, then you can click on the video graphic below.

I hope you enjoyed this month’s featured video. I not only enjoyed it. I loved it! Here were a few ah-ha moments I walked away with:

  • I was reminded that donors are like snowflakes and each one is very different (which is the essence of donor-centered fundraising, right?).
  • Good fundraising professionals can recognize this truism and adapt their approach when it comes to cultivation, solicitation and stewardship.
  • Just like how different donors are motivated by different head vs. heart messages, there are different types of fundraising professionals who are better at one or the other approaches.

When I worked for Boys & Girls Clubs of America as an internal consultant, my toolbox contained a PowerPoint training they called “Closing the Gift“. It was contained the organization’s teachable point of view for how staff and volunteers at local affiliates should go about soliciting donors. This process included 12 steps that volunteers were encouraged to follow. Doing so would minimize the fears associated with asking for money and maximize the effectiveness of the solicitation.

Here are those 12 steps:

  1. Make your gift first
  2. Think about the kids (in order words, stop obsessing and thinking about the money and start thinking about why you are doing this)
  3. Choose good prospects to solicit (aka no cold calls)
  4. Pick-up the phone and schedule the in-person meeting
  5. Prepare for the meeting
  6. Talk about the kids (aka discuss the case for support)
  7. Share your commitment
  8. Ask the donor to “consider” a specific gift amount
  9. After making the ask, BE QUIET
  10. Answer questions
  11. Schedule date/time to “follow-up” if they needed time to think about it (aka don’t leave the pledge card behind and schedule time to circle back to complete paperwork)
  12. Express gratitude for their time and consideration

Over the last 10 years, I’ve made a lot of money working with clients on this 12-step program. LOL It might look easy, but as people always say . . . “The devil is in the details“.  ;-)

However, while “Hangin’ with Henry” this morning and listening to his thoughts about heart vs. head fundraising, I was reminded of something new to which I’ve recently been exposed with regards to making the ask.

Last month, I was onsite with a capital campaign client and I needed to train a group of volunteers on how to make an effective, “by the book” solicitation. Rather than reach in my toolbox for my standard training curriculum, I was allowed access to another fundraising professional’s toolbox.

seven faces philanthropyWhile much of the process was the same, this new training incorporated some of the ideas put forth in the book “The Seven Faces of Philanthropy: A New Approach to Cultivating Major Donors” written by Russ Alan Price and Karen Maru File. In a nutshell, the book identifies and profiles seven types of major donors and offers detailed strategies on how to approach them.

The following are the seven different “types of donors” identified and profiled:

  • The Communitarian
  • Devout
  • Investor
  • Socialite
  • Altruist
  • Repayer
  • Dynast

I won’t give away anymore of what characterizes these seven groups or the strategies they suggest you use to approach each type of donor because I suspect the authors would like you to buy their book.  :-)  If you are in the market for good professional reading, I highly recommend this book.

So, as I listened to Henry and Joan chatter about heart vs. head fundraising this morning, I found my thoughts drifting back to the training session I facilitated last month.

Some of the volunteers around the table LOVED the “seven types of donors” wrinkle and other volunteers absolutely HATED the idea and preferred the simpler 12-step approach.

This got me thinking.

Henry said in the video that there are “heart donors” and “head donors“. He also said there are fundraising professionals who are more adept with each approach. After my experience last month, I would apply this thinking to fundraising volunteers, too.

As I get to the bottom of my cup of coffee this morning, I am left with the following questions:

  • Are you a heart fundraiser or head fundraiser?
  • After identifying which type of donor you’re dealing with, are you capturing it in your donor database or CRM?
  • When recruiting fundraising volunteers, are you using this “heart vs. head” lens to develop a diverse prospect list? Are you also using this lens as part of your prospect assignment exercise?

As I always say, we can all learn from each other. Please scroll down and share your thoughts and experiences (or take a crack at answering any of the aforementioned questions) in the comment box.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC

Your case for fundraising goal better match your messaging and need

zikaThis morning, I was in my car driving down the interstate when National Public Radio (NPR) ran a story about UNICEF’s goal to raise $9 million to fight against the Zika virus. If you want to learn more about this new, you can click here and read more about it in the Washington Post. However, this isn’t really what today’s blog post is about . . . this morning I want to share with you my response to this story and how it applies to your non-profit organization.

In the three seconds after listening to this NPR story, here are the thoughts that raced through my mind:

  • Ugh! Not another scary disease story (e.g. Swine flu, bird flu, SARS, Ebola, etc) to whip up public fear and motivate action on any number of fronts. Here we go again. :-(
  • Hmmmm, I wonder if little kids are still carrying UNICEF boxes collecting small change at Halloween? Is it possible for a simple “tin cup philanthropy” campaign to raise $9 million for this effort?
  • Barf . . . I think some of the U.S. Presidential candidates who lost last night’s Iowa Caucus could probably fund this $9 million UNICEF goal many times over. (If you doubt me, then you may want to click here and make sure you’re near a toilet for the post-article queasiness)

You’re probably wondering what any of this has to do with you and your non-profit organization?

Simply . . .

Make sure that your fundraising goal matches the size of your case for support!

If you are trying to do something BIG and you need your donors to understand how BIG it is as well as rise to the BIG occasion, then your fundraising goal better also be BIG. If you don’t live by this rule, then it is likely that your campaign will:

  • be seen as underwhelming
  • lack traction and volunteer support
  • attract fewer donors than anticipated
  • result in smaller average size gifts
  • run the risk of not meeting goal

I took a phone call the other day from a potential client wanting me to bid on a capital campaign. After asking a few questions, it was apparent they only wanted to set a six figure goal to do a little renovation. I encouraged them to go back to their boardroom, ask the following questions, and then we’ll talk again:

  • What other needs do your clients face in your community? How much money do you need to address those needs?
  • Are your physical plant issues perfect if you are successful with these small renovations? If not, then what more needs to occur and how much would that cost?
  • Is your endowment satisfactorily large enough to inspire confidence in your donors that you have the question of long-term sustainability addressed?
  • Look at this renovation campaign through the eyes of your donors. What do they see? What are their reactions?
  • Does your organization possess the internal organizational capacity to sustain what you’re building? If not, can that be built into this campaign? If so, what would that cost? (e.g. endowing staff positions, etc)

Please use the comment box to share your thoughts and experiences with goal setting and building a B-HAG (e.g. big, hairy audacious goal) type of campaign and case for support. Have you been in this position before? If so, what did you do and what did you learn? We can all learn from each other.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC

Making the case for periodic assessment of your non-profit organization

assessmentA few weeks ago I received a call from a friend who asked me (aka The Healthy Non-Profit LLC) to submit a proposal to conduct an organizational assessment for a regional non-profit organization. He recently joined the board of directors of this organization, and during his first few meetings he concluded that his fellow board members might need a little “perspective”. As we spent a little time on the phone framing the proposal, he made a very specific request of me . . .

Please go into great detail about why it is a best practice for non-profit organizations to invest in an organizational assessment facilitated by an external consultant.”

In the space below, I attempt to elaborate on this question by sharing two personal non-organizational stories that I consider analogies for non-profit organizations. I also end this post by sharing the actual one-page of text I included in my proposal and ask DonorDreams readers to please use the comment box to help me add/subtract to this case for support (for the benefit of future proposals).

Story #1: Mom & Dad aren’t on the same page

Mom_DadI am a lucky son because both my Mom and Dad are still married and living in the same community and same subdivision where I grew up (except they moved across the street when I went away to college). A few years ago, both of my parents retired and have been trying to figure out what to do with their new found time.

Just the other day while visiting Mom and Dad, the conversation turned to the subject of “To Infinity and Beyond“. To clarify what I mean by this, here are a list of questions that were being asked and not really answered:

  • How long do you plan on staying in your current house?
  • Have you given any thought to what you want to do when staying where you’re at doesn’t make any more sense?
  • Oh? You want to move to Florida? When were you thinking you might do that?
  • Where in Florida do you see yourself living?
  • Are you keeping the house in Illinois and planning to live like “snowbird retirees“? Or are you selling the house? And when are you planning to do that? And when do you plan on thinning out all of your STUFF?


If you’ve ever gone down this road with your parents, you know how frustrating this discussion can become.

In my instance, it became clear that these two people, who spend approximately 75% of their lives no more than 100 feet from each other, were NOT on the same page. I’ll spare you the details (and protect their privacy), but suffice it to say one of my parents has a two-year plan in mind and the other was taking the long view with a 10-year plan. And this was just the beginning of their differences.

So, what does this have anything to do with your non-profit organization and the best practice of periodic organizational assessment?

Simple . . .

Next time you are in your boardroom, I encourage you to stop whatever you’re doing, look around the room at each of your board volunteers and imagine how each one of them would answer the following questions:

  • Who are we as an organization? Why do we exist?
  • Where are we going as an organization?
  • Where should we be going as an organization?
  • What is currently working well for us?
  • What are we challenged by?
  • What opportunities exist outside of our four walls that we should be trying to take advantage of?
  • What storms are brewing on the horizon that we need to better position the organization for?

I guarantee that if you do this exercise honestly, you will probably find the same thing I found with my parents which is . . .

You will see awesome people, who are engaged around shared values and a mission, BUT who all have a slightly different view on things that are very important to your organization.

It is for this reason that periodic assessments are necessary. If done by someone external to your organization (possessing a fresh set of eyes and ears), then you can learn a lot about what isn’t being said and then incorporate it into the next step — a planning process (of some sort).

Story #2: My trip to the doctor

doctorI’ll keep this story short and sweet since this post is getting too long. Yesterday, I went to my doctor for my annual physical.

Why did I go?

  • A bump recently appeared on my finger
  • I’ve been fatigued more than usual lately
  • I’ve had the same cold virus going on five weeks now
  • And a variety of other little reasons that I shouldn’t go into on the internet LOL

You’ve probably heard that an annual physical examination by your doctor is a best practice. In fact, it is  strongly encouraged by most insurance companies that typically don’t even charge you a co-pay for such a visit.

Why is this form of annual assessment of your health considered so important by health practitioners?

Simple . . .  there are things you cannot see and do not have knowledge of that this assessment will help diagnose and lead you to act upon. The same logic holds true for your non-profit organization.

editAsking a small favor of you . . .

As I explained at the beginning of this post, the following is approximately one page of text that I included in my recent proposal. Would you please do me the small favor of reading it and provide your two cents on what you would add or subtract from this written case for support? You can also simply tell me what is missing (or what you really like) in the comment box below. My plan is to incorporate your feedback into the next proposal I’m asked to write like this one. Thank you in advance for your help.  :-)

Why is periodic assessment a best practice?

In layman’s terms, periodic organizational assessment is akin to a physical exam that people periodically engage in with their physicians.

While assessments take many different shapes, almost all attempt to answer the following questions:

  • Who are we?
  • Where are we now?
  • Where do we want to go?

Answers to these questions typically become a precursor to board activities such as creating an organizational:

  • Long term plan
  • Strategic Plan
  • Business Plan
  • Short-term tactical plan

While looking carefully at the question of “Who are we” might seem silly to some people, it is important because organizations morph and change over time. Moreover, the “need(s)” that an organization was initially created to address may no longer exist or may have evolved.

The question of “Where are we now” is oftentimes difficult to ascertain without the help of an external consultant. The reason for this is the same reason people pay therapists / counselors to help assess what is going on inside of ourselves. The simple truth is that it is hard to get outside of our own bodies to see what is really going on. What makes this even more difficult with non-profit organizations is the fact that there are many different people sitting around the boardroom table oftentimes with various opinions and perspectives.

The question of “Where do we want to go” is more of a planning discussion than it is an assessment question. However, good organizational assessments have the ability to access what various stakeholders are thinking about the future. Being able to see all of these different viewpoints can help the board frame productive discussions at the start of a planning process focused on vision and goal setting.

As it is illustrated on the previous page, organizations go through a predictable lifecycle, and an organizational assessment can help board volunteers see where they are at in that cycle and have productive discussions about what to do about it.


Thanks for indulging me today. I appreciate being able to share a few stories and a portion of a business proposal with the smart readers of the DonorDreams blog. I truly believe that we can all learn from each other (as I’ve stated hundreds of times over the last five years of blog posts). Today, I am doubling down on this believe by asking for your feedback. I appreciate your willingness to participate in such an exercise.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC

Non-profit organizes camel race to raise money for its mission

20160121_131831[1]Recently, I’ve been working with Boys & Girls Club of Watertown on a project, and a few months ago staff asked me if I wanted to schedule my January return trip around their Camel Race fundraising event. Of course my answer was “Heck yeah!” I’ve been doing resource development and non-profit work for almost two decades, and I have never seen a camel race to raise money for charity. It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. So, today’s post is all about my experience, and it is an opportunity to share picture.

Spoiler alert . . . my camel won (I named her Carmen, after the somba singer dancer of Chiquita Banana fame, and you can see her pictured to the right)!  :-)

What is a camel race?

20160122_205458[1]In a nutshell, a camel race is a game of chance. It involves betting, dice rolling and moving decorated camels through a race course. Here are a few details:

  • Event sponsorships are sold to area businesses
  • While different sponsor levels come with different benefits, every sponsor is asked to decorate a camel shaped piece of plywood
  • Participants purchase tickets to attend the event (in addition to the camel races dinner is provided)
  • Before dinner, there is a social hour where attendees are asked to vote for the best decorated camel (of course people vote by placing dollars in ballot boxes in front of each camel)
  • There are also opportunities to purchase raffle tickets before dinner
  • Camels are segmented into different races (there weren’t more than six camels per race because there aren’t more than six sides to a dice) and each camel is assigned a number between one and six
  • 20160122_205516[1]Two very large fuzzy dice are rolled and the numbers rolled move the camel with the corresponding number one space forward on the race course (e.g. if a two and six are rolled then camel #2 and camel #6 each move one space)
  • The winner of each race competes in a championship race at the end of the evening
  • Event attendees place bets on which camel will win each race
  • There is software that determines the odds and payout ratios based upon what people bet

If you are still scratching your head and unsure of how this event works, then here is how the organization describes the event in their FAQ document:

How does the race work? Camels will move a space along the racetrack when their assigned number is called out as a result of a throw of two really large dice. Every time your Camels number is called out, they get to move a space. First Camel to move 10 spaces wins the Race. Attendees are allowed to bet on each heat using their camel bucks.”

While this event was unique, I walked away thinking it was kind of like a cross between a casino night and Duck Race fundraising event.

For the record, I LOVED this fundraising event. I give it a big gold star for fun and creativity.  :-)

What did the camels look like?

I love how excited and creative event sponsors got with their camels. The following are a few thumbnail snapshots I took with my cell phone (there were at least 30 camels and I just don’t have the space to share all of them . . . my apologies).

20160122_171636[1]     20160122_171639[1]     20160122_171644[1]

20160122_171648[1]     20160122_171652[1]     20160122_171655[1]

20160122_171700[1]     20160122_171705[1]     20160122_171707[1]

20160122_171711[1]     20160122_171717[1]     20160122_171727[1]

20160122_171732[1]     20160122_171749[1]     20160122_171814[1]

Is a camel race the answer to ALL of your fundraising challenges?

The short answer is . . . NO.

20160122_205535[1]Special event fundraising is:

  • time consuming
  • volunteer intense
  • costly (e.g. it will cost your organization between 50 cents and $1.30 to raise $1.00 when you consider both direct and indirect costs)

This doesn’t mean your organization shouldn’t host a handful of (read this as one, two or possibly three) well planned and executed special events through the year. Because you should! However, it needs to be done in conjunction with a diversified resource development plan that also includes an annual campaign, private foundation grants, government funding, corporate giving, family foundation support, major gift strategy as well as periodic efforts focused on capital, endowment and special project initiatives.

For more information about developing your organization’s annual resource develop plan, here are a few links you should check out:

In addition to folding your special events into a well thought out RD Plan, your organization should always be looking at the “return on investment” (ROI) associated with your special events. Keep in mind the Association of Fundraising Professionals advocates that you keep your cost per dollar raised to under 50 cents.

Click here to access an awesome ROI measurement tool developed by Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) for its local affiliates.

What is the most unique special event fundraiser you’ve ever seen? How does your organization integrate special event fundraising into its fundraising program? How reliant are you on funding that comes from your events? How do you assess ROI? Please use the comment box to share your thoughts and experiences?

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC

There is a recipe to follow when recruiting volunteers

recipeNot too long ago, I was sitting in an introductory orientation meeting with a group of volunteers. As the consultant, I was ticking through all of the things our little group was about to undertake. And then it happened. One of the volunteers raised their hand and said, “I didn’t realize this was what I was being asked to do. I’m really busy and I don’t think I can do those things.

Truthfully, I was shocked.

I’ve never had a volunteer openly admit this in the middle of a meeting. Normally, these individuals keep quiet and simply disengage.

Of course, this is dangerous to the goals of whatever project you’re working on. Because if many people are quietly disengaging as they conclude “This isn’t what I signed up for,” then the team you built won’t likely accomplish what you need and won’t succeed.

So, what is the answer?

Simply, we need to stop “soft selling” people and playing down what we need them to do.

expectationsAs I suggest in the headline for this post, there is a recipe for how to recruit a volunteer appropriately and it is as follows:

  • call the prospect and ask for a face-to-face meeting (no telephone recruitment)
  • talk about the volunteer opportunity in broad terms, how it advances the organization’s mission and how it helps clients
  • share specifics about what you are asking them to do (e.g. specific tasks, process involved in accomplishing those tasks, time involved, number of meetings required, etc)
  • provide them with a timeline (e.g. when will this commitment start, when will this commitment end, etc)
  • provide them with a written volunteer job description
  • do NOT undercut your ask by saying things like “whatever you can do will be OK
  • do not press them for an immediate answer . . . if they need time, encourage them to take the written job description home and think about it for a few days, but make sure to set a time to follow-up with them

This recipe for volunteer recruitment is all about one thing . . .


Of course, setting expectations is done at other times and not just during the first recruitment meeting. And there are other strategies involved than a simple job description and clear discussion. The following are a few additional ways to go about it:

  • use your first meeting to provide an orientation and affirm with everyone what they signed up for
  • training opportunities can reinforce expectations
  • goal setting and planning exercises with the group also will help reinforce expectations
  • report meetings and accountability calls can provide opportunities to ask: “How is it going? Is this what you thought it would be? Can we help?

Whenever I talk with non-profit professionals and volunteers about “setting expectations,” they seem to get squeamish. Here is some of what I hear:

  • These people aren’t employees. We aren’t paying them.
  • Setting expectations feels pushy and presumptuous.
  • They might say NO if they really knew what they were signing up for.

As non-profit professionals and volunteers, we need to teach ourselves to push past these irrational objections.

I encourage you to think of it this way . . .

Why would you put people you know, love and respect in a difficult position?

I oftentimes think back to a time when this happened to me whenever I’m tempted to “soft sell” someone on a volunteer opportunity. Here is what happened in a nutshell:

  • I was asked to join a committee
  • I realized at the first meeting that I said YES to something that I didn’t immediately understand and definitely didn’t have time to do
  • I bit my tongue and said nothing because the person who recruited me was a friend and I didn’t want to let them down (and I felt like I owed them)
  • I agreed to do things that I knew I couldn’t realistically do
  • I got some of it done, but not all of it
  • In the end, I had to admit that I couldn’t accomplish everything I said I would
  • I felt like a failure
  • I blamed myself, but I also resented my friend for not being honest with me from the beginning. We are still friends, but since this experience I now find ways to politely say NO to everything they ask me to get involved in

Review the last few bullets, and again ask yourself this simple question: “Why would you put people you know, love and respect in a difficult position?

How does your non-profit organization set expectations with prospective volunteers? Please use the comment box below to share your thoughts and experiences. We can all learn from each other.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC

Emotional Intelligence 2.0 as an assessment tool for growth and team building

EQ1As regular readers of this blog know, I’ve been on an assessment binge as of late that is leading up to some work around visioning, goal setting, and strategy and tactics development. The assessment work has been both personal and business related. You can read more about my motivations and thoughts in a post I published last week titled “New year starts with a little assessment work“.

A few days ago I confessed to struggling with the personal assessment side of this exercise until I purchased two books:

My last post — “StandOut 2.0 as an assessment tool for growth, team building and direction setting” — I talked all about:

  • the nine strength roles identified by Marcus Buckingham
  • the assessment tool that helped me identify my top two strengths
  • the importance of focusing on and leveraging your top two strengths
  • how to use this tool to assist with questions related to organizational development and team building

In this post, I’m focusing on my second book purchase — “Emotional Intelligence 2.0” — and what I’m learning and why I think it is relevant to your work.

EQ2Some of you might be wondering, “What is the world is emotional intelligence?” and the answer is somewhat complex because it involves brain science.

Here is how Google explains it:

the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.”

Here is what the authors of the book say:

The communication between your emotional and rational ‘brains’ is the physical source of emotional intelligence.

If you are a science-geek, then I encourage you to read the book where you can learn more about your spinal cord, limbic system and frontal lobe. In all honesty, it really is fascinating stuff.

I chose to incorporate the idea of emotional intelligence (EQ) into my New Years personal and professional assessment exercise in addition to the strength roles evaluation work found in the StandOut 2.o book because experts are learning it plays a large role in our professional life and our successes. Don’t believe me? Here are a few factoid that I’m quoting from the book:

  • EQ is so critical to success that it accounts for 58 percent of performance in all types of jobs.
  • The link between EQ and earnings is so direct that every point increase in EQ adds $1,300 to an annual salary.

What I’m banking on is that I can grow my non-profit practice, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC, by improving my EQ and aligning my work better with my strengths.  I suspect you can do the same thing when it comes to your non-profit organization.

Back to the book . . .

There are four emotional intelligence skills, and they pair up as follows:


The book does far more explaining of these skills that I simply can’t and won’t get into today. I encourage you to purchase and read the book if this subject interests you.

What I will say for the purposes of this blog post is there is an online EQ assessment that people who purchase the book can access. It scores you in each of these four EQ skills areas and produces exercises designed to help you improve your EQ scores.

Unlike your IQ, which is not something you can change, your EQ can be developed and improved.

I was debating whether or not to share my scores with the blogosphere, and I decided not to. Needless to say, assessment is a humbling experience and my scores are a little lower that I would like. However, I will share that my assessment results convinced me to start working on my “listening skills” (which is social awareness strategy #11 spelled out on pages 160-161).

After I get this habit established, I will probably add an “empathy” exercise into the mix where I’ll try to pay attention to other people’s feelings more.

So, you are probably wondering how this assessment tool might benefit you and your organization. Here are a few thoughts:

  • If you are sometimes concerned that you don’t have a good handle on where you team is at or what it is feeling, then you might want to assess and work on your EQ
  • If a member of your team likes to push other teammates’ buttons, then incorporating a few self-management exercises into that person’s individual development plan (IDP) might make sense
  • If a member of your team is someone who constantly “speaks their mind” and everyone else reacts poorly, then you may need to help them develop their social awareness skills (additionally, you may need to teach the team to speak directly to this teammate’s feelings and not just what they are saying)

In short, improving your EQ could:

  • make you a more effective and productive person in the workplace
  • help you become a better coach to your team

Have you used this tool or others like it? If so, please scroll down to the comment box and share your thoughts and experiences. We can all learn from each other.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC

StandOut 2.0 as an assessment tool for growth, team building and direction setting

standout bookAs I said in my last post titled “New year starts with a little assessment work,” I’m beginning the new year by gifting myself 12 weeks of assessment. By assessment, I am looking closely at both personal issues (e.g. strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, etc.) and business issues (e.g. productivity, profitability, travel habits, types of contracts that bring me joy/fulfillment, etc). All of this will lead to planning exercises including direction setting/visioning, goal setting, strategies and tactics.

In my last post, I confessed to experiencing difficulty with the personal assessment side of my journey until I ran across two books — StandOut 2.0 and Emotional Intelligence 2.0 — at an O’Hare airport bookstore. Today’s post will focus on the first book, StandOut 2.0 written by Marcus Buckingham, and what I’ve learned as well as how I think non-profit leaders might be able to apply this tool.

This tool is rooted in the the principles of positive psychology and appreciative inquiry, which are fields that have been growing like a weed over the last few decades. You may recognize this author and this approach because Marcus Buckingham introduced the StrengthsFinder assessment in his book titled Now, Discover Your Strengths.

The entire book is based on one simple premise. If you want to excel and get the most out of your team, then you have to focus on maximizing your strengths. Working on shoring up your weaknesses is nice, but it won’t put you in a sweet spot when it comes to productivity, quality, and fulfillment.

There are nine “strength roles” identified in this assessment approach:

  • Advisor
  • Connector
  • Creator
  • Equalizer
  • Influencer
  • Pioneer
  • Provider
  • Stimulator
  • Teacher

In the last week, I have read the book, taken an assessment, and set-up my online work space where I receive weekly tips and set personal goals. It hasn’t felt like a “heavy lift” or hard work.

After taking the assessment, you receive a personalized report ranking your strength roles. Your top two strengths become the focus of your work. The following are my top two strength roles and their descriptions:

  • Advisor: “You are a practical, concrete thinker who is at your most powerful when reacting to and solving other people’s problems.
  • Connector: “You are a catalyst. Your power lies in your craving to bring two people or ideas together to make something bigger and better than it is now.

It is this combination of strengths that makes me unique, and according to Buckingham I will benefit from:

  • honing these strengths
  • aligning my work and career path with these strengths
  • building my team around these strengths
  • learning how to leverage these strengths in the areas of client services and sales

Buckingham walks readers through “Three lessons for building your strengths” in chapter three of the book. I finished that chapter thinking his advice was wise and something worth investing my time.

I really like the online work space that comes with this toolbox, including the ability to link other members of your team into the site.

StandOut 2.0 was an exciting discovery for me. I didn’t waste time figuring out ways to incorporate it into my life. Within a few days, I asked one of my executive coaching clients to purchase the book and take the online assessment. We integrated the results into our next session and plan on using it to frame their job search process.

On a personal note, the assessment provided me tons of “food for thought” for my consulting practice. It validated my intuition that I need to work harder at cultivating the executive coaching side of my practice, and it will provide context and a frame for the visioning exercise I plan on undertaking in the next few weeks.

So, you are probably wondering how this assessment tool might benefit you. Here are a few thoughts:

  • If you find yourself wondering from time-to-time if you are in the right position at your non-profit organization (and who doesn’t periodically do this), then this tool might help you find clarity
  • If you find yourself spinning your wheels at work, then this tool might help you find traction
  • If you find yourself struggling with building a powerful, efficient team, then this tool might help you with hiring, project assignment, and how to best manage/coach your direct reports.

Have you used this tool or others like it? If so, please scroll down to the comment box and share your thoughts and experiences. We can all learn from each other.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC

New year starts with a little assessment work

assessmentWelcome to a new year everyone, which for many people typically means making resolutions and goals. For me, I’ve been telling friends and family for the last few months that I plan on taking the first quarter of 2016 do a little soul searching. I anticipate a few personal and business decisions stemming from my assessment efforts.

When I started looking at how I wanted to go about doing some “assessment work,” I found that the business assessment ideas were the easiest.

  • Review revenue trends and sources of income
  • Look at types of contracts
  • Explore different business models
  • Talk with friends and colleagues about what seems to provide a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment

Easy-peasy! One week into 2016, and I feel really comfortable with the business assessment aspects of my soul searching journey.

But what I’ve found more challenging is the the personal assessment component of this exercise (e.g. what are my strengths, what jobs align with my personality type, etc).

In the final weeks of 2015, I struggled with (and procrastinated on) figuring out what I was going to do with regard to a personal assessment. I simply wanted this process to point me in the direction of greater work-life balance, mindfulness and health.

As most things in life, the answers came when I least expected.

While I was standing around at O’Hare airport waiting for my plane to arrive, I decided to browse around a book store near my gate. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular. I wasn’t even planning to make a purchase, but I ended up walking out with the following two purchases:

My first book purchase is aimed at helping me determine where I lack in emotional intelligence and what I can do to strengthen those areas of deficiency. My suspicion is that strengthening my emotional intelligence will help me become an even better non-profit consultant by becoming more empathetic and building stronger, more meaningful relationships.

As for the second book, I thought getting a better handle on my strengths might help me focus my consulting practice.

I’ve taken the online assessments associated with these books and started reading.

I will use my next two blog posts to share with you some of the results from these online assessments, what I’m learning, and what sense I’m making of it all.

This personal journey has me thinking about YOU and your non-profit organization.

  • What assessment tools have you used to assess your organization?
  • What tools have you used to assess YOU? Your personality? Your leadership style? Your strengths and skills?
  • Have you used these tools with your workplace team? If so, has it help you develop a better team?

When I was an executive director of a small non-profit organization many years ago, I engaged a consultant to help us bring Myers-Briggs (MBTI) personality testing into our workplace. After some employee turnover, this initiative lost steam and ultimately faded. However, I’ve subsequently read the book Type Talk at Work and now realize how valuable those efforts could’ve been for our little team if we had stayed the course.

Please scroll down to the comment box and share your thoughts and experiences with either organizational or personal assessment processes, workplace initiatives or tools. We can all learn from each other.

[Note: I’ve had a few close friends ask me if my first quarter assessment efforts are a sign of imminent changes. I’ve assured them that it does not mean that I’m closing my consulting practice or running off to join the circus. I simply believe assessment — both personal and business — is a natural part of life and something everyone should do from time-to-time.]

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC

Happy New Year and here’s to new beginnings

new yearAs the curtain falls on 2015 and a new year bursts onto the stage, I can’t help getting excited for countless non-profit organizations across this great land of ours. As many of you know, I am a planner by training with both a BAUP and MUP from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Embedded in every planner’s soul are ideas such as:

  • vision casting
  • goal setting
  • strategy development
  • tactical action planning

You can boil it all down into two words . . .

Direction Setting

In my opinion, New Years Eve is all about direction setting both individually and organizationally. Some of us make resolutions about weight loss, health, career path, etc. Sometimes organizational leaders set goals around revenue, programming or culture change.

My new years wish for all DonorDreams blog readers is that regardless of how many plans (e.g. strategic plan, RD Plan, board development plan, etc) your organization may operate with, you take a moment on this special day and decide what one or two things you plan on really changing in 2016.

I suspect this laser focus on one or two things will bring you great results in the new year!

What organizational change do you plan on making in 2016? Please share your thoughts and plans using the comment box below.

Here’s to your health (and happy new year)!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC

New Year 2016 Non-Profit Prediction? Confusion in HR Departments!

predictionsLike so many other people, I am a sucker for year-end predictions. I suspect it has something to do with being uncomfortable with an uncertain future. So, for each of the last few years, I’ve blogged about non-profit predictions and trends during the final few days of the year. Needless to say, I can’t resist doing it again as 2015 comes to a close. Drum roll please? I predict non-profit organization in 2016 will . . .

Grapple with HR issues

In mid-2015, the Department of Labor announced its proposal to dramatically increase the minimum salary levels for individuals classified as exempt executive, administrative or professional employees. This announcement kicked off a public comment period and prognostications that new rules will go into effect in 2016.

My prediction of “confusion” is based on the following facts and observations:

  • I’ve heard some experts pontificate on the impact this rule change will have on the non-profit sector (e.g. layoffs, reorganization and consolidation of positions, outsourcing, etc)
  • I’ve heard other experts insist the law doesn’t apply to the non-profit sector (e.g. the key criterion for this FLSA provision is “business or sales revenue” which is a standard most non-profits don’t meet)
  • I’ve seen one national non-profit organization swing into action with webinars on how to position local affiliates for these anticipated changes
  • I’ve sat in meetings with clients who are talking about how they anticipate this rule change will impact their 2016 budget and staff structure
  • I’ve worked with a client in New York State who dealt with this when Governor Andrew Cuomo enacted a similar rule change last year and seen the challenges they’ve endured
  • I’ve reviewed some of the non-profit submissions during the public comment period and walked away with that feeling of anxiety in my belly (. . . and needless to say, people are stressed out this)
  • The Department of Labor seems to be signalling a delay in implementing changes (most experts anticipated implementation in early or mid 2016 and now it looks like it will happen in late 2016)

Do you want more proof of confusion? Check out the headlines on the following online articles and posts (and each post is worth a click if you have time):

Of course, anything is possible:

  • Non-profits may get an exemption or they may not
  • The proposed minimum salary of $50,440 may go up and it may go down
  • DOL may change its “job duties tests” for executive, administrative and professional employees

Until the Department of Labor makes its final determination and announcement, I think it is safe to say there will be continued speculation. Moreover, I think once the changes are announced, those non-profit organizations who didn’t put contingency plans in place will find themselves in a chaotic place.

If after reading this far, you are experiencing a “bubbling, acidic feeling in your gut,” then I have a few suggestions for you:

  • Don’t put your head in the sand and wait for DOL to issue changes to FLSA . . . start your planning now
  • Identify all of your salaried exempt employees and make preliminary determinations on which ones you can/should increase to $50,000-ish and which employees you might have to change to a non-exempt status
  • Revisit your organizational budget, invest some time into “scenario planning,” and develop a few different budget options your board can consider once the changes are announced
  • Engage your HR Committee volunteers in these discussions and enlist their help in your planning efforts (if this committee doesn’t exist in your organization, then create a temporary ad hoc task force comprised of supporters with an HR background)
  • Engage your Finance Committee volunteers in these discussions and enlist their help in your planning efforts (if this committee doesn’t exist in your organization, then create a temporary ad hoc task force comprised of supporters with a finance background)
  • Start talking about it in your boardroom (this might be a great opportunity to ask board members to read an article or two and come prepared to participate in a generative discussion during a board meeting)

Today’s post reminds me of an old United States Marine Corps expression:

Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance

With this in mind, what are your thoughts, experiences and suggestions? Please use the comment box below to share. We can all learn from each other.

If you want to read some of my previous year-end predictions, here are a few links that will get you there:

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,595 other followers

%d bloggers like this: