Category Archives: Planning

Using house party events to advance your non-profit interests


I try to keep an eye open for opportunities to learn new things every day. Last week, I learned something about house party events that was so simple, but potentially game changing if you take it to heart. What I learned was . . .

House party events aren’t just a fundraising strategy.

house partyAs a young non-profit professional, who was just learning his craft, I was first introduced to the idea of a “house party” event format as a fundraising technique. The idea was simple. Ask someone to host a small party in their home. Work with them to identify a guest list of potential donors from their list of friends and colleagues. Make a group ask during the get together and collect pledge cards. My former employer used to call these “leadership circle” events.

Personally, I didn’t like the house party strategy for fundraising. Early experiences demonstrated to me that donors were very effective at hiding in group settings. For example, someone who had the willingness to support your organization and the capacity to do so with a substantial gift, usually ended up making a smaller contribution when asked as part of a group in contrast with a one-on-one in-person meeting.

Fast forward to much later in my career, when I was working as an internal consultant for a large national non-profit organization. I was re-introduced to house parties. Instead of using it as a solicitation vehicle, local affiliates where encouraged to use the strategy for new prospect identification and cultivation. At first, this tool was branded “House Party of Hope,” and later it was re-branded “A Party with a Purpose.

Again, house parties were still being used as a resource development activity. So, I never saw this strategy in any other light. That is until just last week when we hosted a house party in our basement.

The purpose of our house party was to introduce the newly hired CEO for a statewide organization to our circle of friends. The stated purposes of this get together were:

  1. Introduce the new CEO to his organization’s constituency
  2. Introduce the organization’s constituency to the new CEO
  3. Use a facilitated question/answer format with the group to collect stories to help the organization craft a shared vision, set goals, and develop a new strategic plan

engage2Last week’s experience helped me see house parties in a whole new light. No longer was this strategy simply a tool in a non-profit person’s resource development toolbox. The more I thought about it, the opportunities seemed to be endless. Here are just a few of my thoughts:

  • Host a house party to validate a final planning document with any number of stakeholder and constituency groups
  • Host a house party to engage potential collaborative partners in a discussion about what is possible
  • Host a house party to engage staff, build team dynamics, address workplace challenges, start a new program, etc
  • Host a house party to collect stories from clients/constituents to gauge your organization’s impact, develop a marketing campaign, identify additional needs, etc
  • Host a house party to educate the community and initiate a call to action focused on your organization’s public advocacy agenda (Note: I believe I once read the American Medical Association did this in the 1950s or 1960s to defeat national healthcare legislation moving its way through Congress)
  • Host a house party to identify new potential board volunteers as a precursor to the board development committee building prospect lists

I literally believe the sky is the limit with regard to how a house party strategy can be used to advance any non-profit organization’s agency.

If you are interested in learning more about house parties, click-through the following links for a treasure trove of resources and reading materials:

Has your organization ever used a house party strategy? What were your objectives? Were your objectives met? Please use the comment box 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
www.thehealthynonprofit.com 
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
http://twitter.com/#!/eanderson847
http://www.facebook.com/eanderson847
http://www.linkedin.com/in/erikanderson847

Long term vs strategy vs tactical planning for your organization


planning flow chartI love Seth Godin and his ability to make you think with what must be some of the world’s shortest blog posts ever. Did you see his recent post titled A ten-year plan is absurd? I swear to you this 28 word post has been rattling around in my head for the last five days. If you haven’t read it, it is really worth the click. Seriously!

Here are some of the thoughts I cannot seem to shake:

  • Back in the days when we had more time and the luxury of being thoughtful, it wasn’t uncommon for an organization to develop a long-range plan. This document was akin to a vision statement, but it had more depth and long range goals.
  • Strategic plans were three to five years in duration and stemmed from the long-term plan. This document “chunked down” the long term plan into shorter term vision, goals and strategies.
  • Every year a tactical plan (aka operational plan) were developed and stemmed from the strategic plan and turned each strategy into a detailed action plan for that particular year (e.g. specific tactics with information on who would do what and by when). These tactical plans would commonly provide direction to development of individual annual performance plans as well as committee work plans for each standing committee of the board.

As our world seems to have accelerated and time has evaporated, it is very common for organizations to pick-up the phone, call a planning consultant/facilitator/coach like me and ask if I’d be willing to help them scrunch all of these plans into one convenient document called “The Strategic Plan.”

Seth’s blog post has me wondering if I’m doing a disservice to my clients by agreeing to help cut these corners?

Does your organization know where it wants to be 10-years from now? 20-years? If not, then what have you done during your “visioning process” for strategic planning that instills confidence that your organization isn’t simply floating from one board’s big idea to the next generation of board members’ genius thought?

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC
www.thehealthynonprofit.com 
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
http://twitter.com/#!/eanderson847
http://www.facebook.com/eanderson847
http://www.linkedin.com/in/erikanderson847

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?

UGH!

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
www.thehealthynonprofit.com 
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
http://twitter.com/#!/eanderson847
http://www.facebook.com/eanderson847
http://www.linkedin.com/in/erikanderson847

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:

eq5

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
www.thehealthynonprofit.com 
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
http://twitter.com/#!/eanderson847
http://www.facebook.com/eanderson847
http://www.linkedin.com/in/erikanderson847

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
www.thehealthynonprofit.com 
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
http://twitter.com/#!/eanderson847
http://www.facebook.com/eanderson847
http://www.linkedin.com/in/erikanderson847

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
www.thehealthynonprofit.com 
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
http://twitter.com/#!/eanderson847
http://www.facebook.com/eanderson847
http://www.linkedin.com/in/erikanderson847

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
www.thehealthynonprofit.com 
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
http://twitter.com/#!/eanderson847
http://www.facebook.com/eanderson847
http://www.linkedin.com/in/erikanderson847

Words of wisdom from GE television commercial and our friends at Disney


ideas_general electricAs most of you know, I’ve been traveling A LOT lately and I haven’t had the opportunity to watch a lot of television. However, it seems like every time I have the TV turned on, I’m seeing a television commercial from General Electric (GE) that talks about “ideas”.

Have you ever experienced a commercial that grabs you in such a way that you can’t get it out of your head? If so, then you know what I’ve been experiencing for the last month. There is something about this commercial that just speaks truth to me.

If you receive this blog via an email subscription, then click this link to view the “Ideas Are Scary” commercial. If you are viewing this in your browser, then you can click the video image below:

I think this television commercial speaks to me because I routinely see this play out live and in-person as a non-profit consultant. The following are just a few examples:

  • Strategic planning discussions where ideas are shot down for any number of reasons ranging from lack of resources to lack of leadership
  • Annual campaign planning meetings where volunteers express resistance to sitting down with donors in-person to talk about making a pledge to the campaign (typically rooted in fear)
  • Boardroom discussions where investing in organizational capacity building efforts is met with resistance because it means getting outside of an organizational comfort zone

And if this is a common theme in my life, then I know it something with which many non-profit CEOs and fundraising professionals constantly are confronted.

So, today’s post begs the question . . .

What should non-profit leaders do differently to make ideas less scary and improve their ability to lead change?

There has been a fair amount of writing over the last five years on the DonorDreams blog platform by me and number of guest bloggers on the subject of leading change, and the following are a few of my favorites:

However, I am left with two questions:

  1. How can non-profit leaders build an organizational culture that embraces new ideas, creativity and innovation?
  2. How can non-profit leaders build shared vision among all stakeholders (e.g. staff, board, donors, etc)?

I know the answer to both of these questions includes parts and pieces of the following:

  • writing and refining a powerful “case for support” document
  • getting the right people sitting around the table
  • engaging everyone in the process, hearing their concerns and incorporating their thoughts until everyone has an ownership stake in the idea

imagineeringHowever, there is much, much more to leading change than the simple six step model that some organizational development consulting/training companies teach, and I suspect it has something to do with your organization’s culture. This is where I think all of us can learn from The Walt Disney Company, home of “Imagineering”. (Note: this term is trademarked by Disney)

I always thought Imagineering was a just an idea the folks at Disney embraced and knit into their corporate culture. However, after a little wiki research, I’ve learned this is a full-blown organizational development concept rooted in:

  • org structure
  • processes-procedures-systems
  • people
  • direction setting

If you are a frustrated non-profit leader (either paid staff or volunteer) and want to figure out how to make ideas less scary and more likely to be embraced, my suggestion is to research what works for General Electric (aka the people who “Bring Good Things to Life” and espouse “Imagination at Work”) and The Walt Disney Company (aka home of the imagineer).

You might be surprised by the number of best practices you find and how many you are able to implement at your non-profit organization.

In the meantime, please use the comment box below to share your thoughts and experiences on how you’ve tried to change organizational culture or build shared/common vision. We can all learn from each other.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC
www.thehealthynonprofit.com 
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
http://twitter.com/#!/eanderson847
http://www.facebook.com/eanderson847
http://www.linkedin.com/in/erikanderson847

Hangin’ with Henry and talking about organizing your resource development efforts


As most of you know, the first Thursday of every month has been dedicated to featuring a short video from Henry Freeman, who is an accomplished non-profit and fundraising professional. Last month, we didn’t share one of Henry’s information videos and instead opted to highlight his recently published book–  Unlacing the Heart. (To re-visit last month’s book review, check out the post titled “A book every fundraising professional MUST read!)

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 The Top Down Principle The Key to Organizing Your Office, Your Time, and Your Work.

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 chose this month’s video because the last five DonorDreams blog posts all focused on how to develop a written resource development plan for your organization. Henry does a nice job of making the case for being:

  • thoughtful / mindful
  • strategic
  • tactical

I believe that today’s video puts the last few weeks of posts in context. What do you think? Please use the comment box section to share your thoughts and experiences.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC
www.thehealthynonprofit.com 
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
http://twitter.com/#!/eanderson847
http://www.facebook.com/eanderson847
http://www.linkedin.com/in/erikanderson847

Writing your resource development plan in steps: Final Words


planning flow chartWelcome to the fifth and final part of this ongoing series of posts on how to write your non-profit organization’s annual resource development plan. As I’ve previously mentioned, this series was inspired by how many DonorDreams blog readers were clicking on the “Time to start writing your 2015 resource development plan” post, which I wrote a year ago.

Let’s quickly recap where we’ve been in the last few weeks with this series:

Today’s post is all about tying up a few loose ends with regards to process. Enjoy!


Let’s bring this entire series of posts full circle by going back to something I said in both the first and fourth posts, which was:

“S/he who writes the plan, owns the plan. And s/he who owns the plan is the only person who will care enough to implement the plan.”

The Board of Directors

engagementPlease keep in mind that “planning” is a key role/responsibility of your non-profit board. With this in mind, the task force / committee I suggested you recruit in the first blog post does not have the authority to make your written resource development plan “the law of your non-profit kingdom”. Only the board can do so, which means they better have a seat at the planning table and participate.

Of course, the reality of the situation is that asking ALL of your board volunteers to sit down and develop a comprehensive fundraising plan is not likely going to happen. However, it might not need to if your planning process is designed appropriately.

Consider these two scenarios:

Scenario #1: The committee develops the draft resource development plan, and the board uses a planning retreat to become familiar with, discuss implementation, and take ownership of the plan

Scenario #2: As the committee completes various draft sections of the plan, those pieces are included on board meeting agendas where generative discussions are facilitated and board feedback is looped back into the committee’s revision process

Personally, I’ve seen both of these approaches work, and I suspect there are many other ways to engage board volunteers in taking ownership. If you’ve had success with another process, please scroll down and share your experiences in the comment box section of this blog.

The Strategic Plan

auto realignmentWhile most resource development plans are aligned exclusively with the organization’s annual budget, it is important not to forget about the strategic plan.

As with everything in life, ideas need money and the same is true for your strategic plan. Make sure that the strategies and tactics in your strategic plan find a place in your annual budget. This way when your annual resource development plan is aligned with revenue side of your annual budget, then everything will exist in harmony.

Another alignment consideration is to make sure the planning committee is knowledgeable of all resource development related strategies and tactics in the strategic plan. This will increase the likelihood that those items will get integrated into this planning document and take a form with more depth and detail.

Alignment isn’t just for cars. It is equally important for organizations, too.

Annual Performance Plans

performance1Just a few quick words on this subject.

As I mentioned in the previous section about strategic plan alignment, your resource development plan should also align with both your executive director fundraising professional’s annual performance plans.

If you want to increase the likelihood that your plan gets implemented, then hold someone accountable for it.

Kinda simple, don’t you think?

The only word of caution here is that the board of directors needs to understand that alignment at this level doesn’t absolve the board of their role in implementing the plan.

Think of it this way . . . staff support the board who in turn make the plan come to life.

Monitoring & Evaluation

measure1How many times have your developed a plan, adopted it, put it on your organizational bookshelf, and watched it collect dust? Unfortunately, this is all too often a common occurrence.

There are many ways to keep a plan alive and on track including:

  • reports
  • dashboards
  • scorecards
  • post-event / post-campaign critique meetings and evaluation

Before developing any of these tools, it is important to sit down and decided what are the most important things to measure.

When it comes to campaigns or events, the following are a few metrics many organizations appear to track:

  • Board solicitation phase – actual vs. goal
  • Community face-to-face solicitation phase – actual vs. goal
  • Targeted mail solicitation phase – actual vs. goal
  • New donor acquisition – actual vs. goal
  • Donor renewal – actual vs. goal
  • LYBUNT renewal – actual vs. goal
  • Individual volunteer solicitor progress – number of pledge cards assigned vs. number of worked & returned cards

With regard to your overall resource development program, the following are a few metrics I’ve seen some organizations track:

  • # of donor solicitations
  • # of cultivation calls
  • # of stewardship contacts
  • donor retention / donor turnover (e.g. LYBUNT, SYBUNT, etc)
  • goal vs actual on various revenue streams (e.g. grants, major gifts, annual campaign, special events, etc)

Phew . . . this five part blog series has come to a merciful end. Hopefully, your organization is well underway with its resource development planning efforts. Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comment box below. We can all learn from each other.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC
www.thehealthynonprofit.com 
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
http://twitter.com/#!/eanderson847
http://www.facebook.com/eanderson847
http://www.linkedin.com/in/erikanderson847

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