In Disney’s Aladdin, our hero’s disguise is betrayed when he asks Jasmine, “Do you trust me?” This is a bottom-line question. It sets the bar of any relationship, and gets down to the naked truth of where you stand and who you are.
Trust makes an impression.
Whether in a family or business relationship, trust means more than just doing what you say you’re going to do. It means that you can speak freely and openly with those you trust. You’re comfortable being totally honest and transparent with them. You’re willing to place your reputation in their hands.
In the workplace, trust’s impact goes beyond individual relationships. It affects the key organizational matters of maximizing performance and achieving desired outcomes. Without trust, we question our colleagues’ intentions and judge their personalities. Productivity disintegrates in the acidic pool of office politics.
So, how can we begin the process of building trust? A first step, as suggested by Patrick Lencioni, is the Personal Histories Exercise – a low-risk, 20-minute activity to help team members understand one another as people. By having each person state where they grew up, how many siblings they have, and an interesting or unique challenge from their childhood, team members connect at a personal level and begin to see each other as trustworthy human beings.
Lencioni offers other exercises and models on his website. The foundation of it all, however, is trust; and it is up to the organization’s leader to make the first move and model the desired behavior – not a bad New Year’s resolution!
Over the past two weeks, one lesson has presented itself to me in a variety of forms – the importance of clarity over and above certainty.
Without going into all the gory details, suffice it to say that processes have stalled waiting for every last fact to be gathered, people have adorned their arguments with extraneous and jargonistic detail to prove the absolute rightness of their point of view, and meetings have been endlessly prolonged while meaningless minutia was debated. It’s exhausting!
In his book, The Five Temptations of a CEO, Patrick Lencioni names “choosing certainty over clarity” as temptation number three. While he affirms the importance of working with good information, he argues that many of us (CEO or not) take pride in our analytical skills and keen insights. Consequently, we spend too much time honing even-more-finely-detailed analyses into conclusions that get a nod but don’t move our organizations forward. Further, the higher impact issues before the group are left to the final few minutes of an already-too-long meeting.
Clarity, in contrast, means that you take a stand, and people understand the argument being made. They know points on which they agree and, perhaps more important, points on which they disagree. To speak clearly, however, requires us to set aside our fear of being wrong (or, at least, not-completely-right) and willingly invite others to challenge and improve our arguments.
Also, clarity makes accountability possible. Clarity of mission and purpose as well as clarity on individual roles and responsibilities means everyone knows why we exist, where we’re headed and who’s doing what. Everyone knows what’s expected and each person participates in keeping the organization on track.
In the study, Fearless Journeys, the researchers describe how several orchestras took on innovative ideas to invigorate their organizations. In the closing, the writer observed that what made all the difference was NOT the choice each made, but the fact that they dared to choose.
Any decision is better than no decision.
The Five Temptations of a CEO
Over the past few weeks I’ve enjoyed getting to know some of our area’s consultants. The topics of our conversations vary at first, but they always come back around to leadership.
While there were many common points of agreement among these conversations, one that stands out to me is that everyone can be a leader. Indeed, our organizations need leaders in every area, creating what Jim Collins (Good to Great) calls “pockets of greatness.”
Developing leadership requires long-term investment in building technical skills and nurturing adaptive skills. In the months ahead ONEplace addresses both technical and adaptive development through a series of programming:
Take the Lead: Attention – Tues Nov 27, 1:00-2:30 pm – Learn what defines leadership vs. management and why you need both. Discover how you can take the lead from your current position – wherever that may be. Explore practices that will develop your leadership ability.
Project Management – Wed Nov 28, 9:30 – 11:00 am - Learn how to prioritize an overwhelming array of activities. Discover a rational, methodical process for defining, planning, and managing your projects. Examine steps you can take to protect your plan from potential problems and capitalize on potential opportunities.
ONEplace Nonprofit Leadership Academy 2013 – January-May, 2013 – An in-depth exploration of nonprofit executive leadership over ten sessions plus a mentoring experience. Applications are due November 30.
Consider these opportunities as well as resources found on our Leadership ONEpage to help you develop your leadership skills.
Good to Great
Recently, I heard Mario Morino of Venture Philanthropy Partners speak of the “…acute shortage of the kind of leaders that high-performing nonprofit and public agencies require.”
This comment tracks with what I’ve heard from business and nonprofit leaders for years: leaders are in short supply.
Mario also says, “Bluntly put, the number-one limiter on our ability to create meaningful, lasting change in our social and public sectors is an acute shortage of the ‘right people on the bus.’” The “right people” he refers to are leaders, i.e., “people with a professional, personal, and passionate commitment to solving a problem about which they possess a commanding and deep understanding.” To be truly effective, organizations need leaders not only in the top jobs but throughout the organization.
ONEplace@kpl has doubled its commitment to bring you leadership training. Our ONEplace Nonprofit Leadership Academy 2013 will begin in January and address every area involved with running a nonprofit. We also are looking to the character of a leader and offering an occasional series called, Take the Lead. The first session is November 27 and explores the importance of focused attention – committing to it, practicing it, and maintaining it.
Consider these opportunities as well as resources found on our Leadership ONEpage to help you develop your leadership skills.
A Mindful Nation
You’re leading a staff meeting, giving a report to the board, addressing a group of program volunteers, or having coffee with a donor. In these situations and others, you have the opportunity to tell a story.
We have the stories – volunteers, staff, and participants tell us wonderful tales of how they have been greatly helped and deeply touched. The challenge becomes presenting that story so the full impact is felt by the listeners.
On October 24, we’re hosting “Three Stories Every Nonprofit Should Tell,” a webinar by Kivi Leroux Miller, president of the Nonprofit Marketing Guide. This event explores the dramatic plot lines used by writers and offers steps on how to craft your story to achieve maximum impact (more info).
Put the power of story to work in your fundraising, board development, and community relations.
P.S. We also recently added November programming to our ONEplace calendar (check it out).
We redesigned our ONEplace@kpl website to serve you better. The new design streamlines the navigation and organizes information by work areas. At the heart of the design is our new ONEpages service.
ONEpages provides a one-click webpage for each of four target areas:
Executive Leadership Program Management
Fund Development Marketing & Communications
Each ONEpage offers downloadable resources, links to recent articles, a list of upcoming events, and a comment section for you to post your questions, comments, and insights. ONEpages are updated frequently, so bookmark the landing page(s) relevant to your work.
The comment area works like an ongoing roundtable. This is your area to post questions, respond to questions, provide links to helpful sites, and generally find and offer help.
I hope you find this redesign helpful. Take a tour a let us know your thoughts and suggestions. The purpose of this site – as in all we do – is to be useful to you.
Great grant proposals begin with research. In fact, approximately 70% of the grant writing process is research. Knowing the right tools and how to use them makes this critical element efficient. So, we again present our Grant Research Tools Workshop on September 26 at 1 p.m.
During the session you will identify what you need to know about your organization and learn how to match your needs with the right funder. You will discover websites and directories with relevant information, and explore the Foundation Center Directory Online with over 100,000 foundation and corporate funders.
Bailey Mead, ONEplace Associate, leads this important class. Bailey joined ONEplace last spring. Previously, she served as Development Director at WARM Training Center (an organization dedicated to building sustainable communities in Detroit through energy efficiency and job training), Grantwriter at Area Agency on Aging 1-B, and Annual Fund Manager at THAW (The Heat and Warmth Fund). With more than 13 years of fund development and leadership experience in organizations ranging in size from grassroots to statewide, she brings a breadth and depth of nonprofit experience to assist you.
Essential nonprofit fundraising handbook
It’s easy for those of us in nonprofits to get so engaged in running our programs and organizations that we forget to tell the general public. We communicate with those close to us, but the wider community may not even know we exist.
Let’s change that!
Like most important endeavors, marketing and communications needs a plan, clear task assignments, and effective execution. In the weeks ahead, ONEplace offers help to jump start your efforts.
First, the Marketing & Communication Roundtable restarts on the third Tuesday of every month beginning September 18 at 11:30 a.m. Like all our roundtables, these are lunch and learn discussions with colleagues where you reflect on your efforts, articulate your successes and issues, and learn from each other’s experiences.
Second, ONEplace hosts four events targeted to your communications needs: “Facebook for Nonprofits” on October 10, “Measuring your Nonprofit Success” on October 17, “Managing your Editorial Calendar” on October 18, and “Three Stories Every Nonprofit Should Tell” on October 24. Visit our website for details and registration. These events are free of charge.
Make October the month you nail down your marketing and communications strategy. ONEplace can help via the resources above and providing direct assistance with your specific needs. Call me (269) 553-7899 or email ThomA@kpl.gov to find out more.
Let’s be real…September really starts the year. In addition to school, many programs, seasons, and endeavors of all sorts begin in the fall.
As I look ahead to this, my first year as director of ONEplace@kpl, I look forward to the activities, the people, the fun, the challenges, and all the ups and downs. I make plans secure in the knowledge that few things go as planned. I set a course confident that I will, more than once, find myself off course. I claim a vision encouraged by surety of surprising twists and turns.
Emboldened by the barriers, hurdles and miscues that lie ahead, I open my eyes wide and dive right in. But, that’s leadership – keeping the endeavor mission-focused over the long haul while events and circumstances (largely beyond our control) would draw it off course.
Fortunately, while we may feel isolated from time to time, none of us have to face our challenges alone. My greatest joy over the past two months has been the daily confirmation that all of us in the nonprofit community are on the same team. Every engaging post-workshop Q&A session, roundtable discussion, and counseling interaction draws upon a shared commitment to building a Greater Kalamazoo. We’re on the same team – not by virtue of common funders but because of a common passion and our common commitment to live, work, play and thrive in this place we all call home.
So, here we go! Another year kicks off promising nothing more than the opportunity to engage. Go for it – great things lie ahead.
A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor. English Proverb
I love mankind…it’s people I can’t stand
Charles Schultz bestowed those words on Linus Van Pelt in November 1959, and supervisors far and wide continue to quote him. Why? Because, like a siren’s call…
Beautifully constructed and multi-colored, the geometric artifices of management process leap from the page into our unfiltered imagination, and we bask in the glow of a well-ordered workplace. Suddenly, our idyllic vision explodes! “Real people” have entered the picture and our so-called process is mangled and shredded to bits. Men and women – full of their own “thoughts” and “opinions” – actually care and act upon their unsolicited thoughts and opinions. What’s a manger to do!?!
I trust that your supervisory task is not that bad. Even so, our clean, well-ordered supervisory systems get various degrees of messy once applied to real life. That’s why ONEplace@kpl is bringing back Paul Knudstrup’s Nonprofit Supervision and Management Series.
Based on his book, The 8 Essential Skills for Managers and Supervisors, this five-session series explores key issues and strategies in supervision and management:
• What do managers really do?
• What’s different about managing a nonprofit?
• How good communication helps create healthy relationships and a strong work environment
• Focusing on achieving the results needed by your organization
• Empowering your staff
• Taking responsibility for your ongoing growth and development
• And much more
While each session is independent, they build upon each other, so committing to the entire course will bring the greatest benefit. As an incentive, those who attend all five sessions receive a free copy of Paul’s book.
The sessions run Monday mornings Sep 10, 17, 24, Oct 1 and 15 (more info). Space is limited for this popular course, so sign up early.
The 8 Essential Skills for Managers and Supervisors
The updated (5th edition) of Guide to Proposal Writing arrived this month. It is one of the many resources available to you through our being a Cooperative Collection participant with the Foundation Center.
As a Cooperative Collection site, ONEplace@kpl offers visitors free access to the Foundation Directory Online. Updated each week, the Foundation Directory Online includes details on over 100,000 funders and more than 2.4 million recent grants. ONEplace@kpl has two computers dedicated to this service, each with written instructions to help you do effective searches of grantmakers, companies, grants, and 990’s.
Other Cooperative Collection resources at ONEplace include:
• After the Grant: The Nonprofit’s Guide to Good Stewardship
• Board Member’s Book
• Grantseeker’s Guide to Winning Proposals
• Key Facts on Social Justice Grantmaking
• Securing Your Organization’s Future
• And more
Stop by ONEplace@kpl (second floor, across from the elevators) and browse our nonprofit collection. There’s a wealth of information on leadership, management, fund development, and marketing/communications waiting for you.
Guide to Proposal Writing
Are you squeezing every last cent out of every dollar, every year…and still running a deficit? Are you expanding your mission to chase after one more grant? Do your communications often (too often) say, “please save us, we’re worth it?”
If so, it’s time to admit that your organization’s business model is unsustainable. It’s not time to redouble efforts. It’s time for a turnaround.
Turnarounds are not miracles. They result from good planning and determined implementation, and they require an unwavering focus on strong leadership, disciplined management, aggressive marketing, and right-sized fundraising.
Strong leadership delivers
• A single, unified vision
• A positive, forward-looking face to outside world
• Courageous decision-making
Disciplined management delivers
• Obsessive focus on the mission
• A feasible plan toward sustainability
• Short-term needs handled with long-term perspective
Institutional marketing delivers
• A clear, mission-focused message that’s descriptive and inspiring
• One solid PR hit every quarter (monthly for larger orgs)
• One spokesperson who controls the media message
Right-sized fundraising delivers
• Gifts that make sense given your organization’s budget and profile
• Grants that support the current mission (vs. create new lines of programming)
• Increased revenue
Again, turnarounds are not miracles. They result from good planning and determined implementation. Further, they take place with energy and speed – no more than three years.
ONEplace@kpl can assist with your turnaround. Email or call today (269-553-7899).
Much of the above is drawn from Michael Kaiser’s excellent book, The Art of the Turnaround. He sets forth ten rules that are clear and practical, and he tells several stories of how he applied those rules to turn around various struggling organizations.
The Art of the Turnaround
Our ONEplace Nonprofit Collection has this great little book: The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization, by Peter Drucker and others. It’s a quick read that makes a lasting impression. Questions two & three grabbed me: Who is our customer? and What does the customer value? Specific, well-supported answers to these questions could turn your organization around.
Nonprofits have many customers. The authors distinguished between our primary customers (the persons who lives are changed through our work) and our supporting customers (volunteers, members, partners, funders, employees, and others who must be satisfied). Our business is not to casually please everyone but to deeply please our target customers. So, the first job is to clearly define our target customers in great detail. This definition affects everything.
Next, ask What does the customer value? This may be the most important – but least often asked – question. The authors suggest beginning with your assumptions of what you believe your customers value. Next, gather customer input and then compare your assumptions with what the customers actually are saying, find the differences, and go on to assess your results. Do this for both primary and supporting customers.
It takes time and hard work, but it’s worth it. The reward comes in a greater focus on your mission, money-saving operational efficiencies, and greater value delivered to all of your customers.
Peter Drucker’s legacy of leadership development merged with the Frances Hesselbein Leadership Institute. Their mission is to strengthen and inspire the leadership of the social sector. Online at HesselbeinInstitute.org.
The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization
It is my honor and pleasure to greet you from my new post as director of ONEplace@kpl.
As I begin my tenure, allow me to add my voice to the many that showered gratitude on Bobbe Luce over the past few weeks. Under her leadership, ONEplace@kpl became an indispensible asset to many who serve nonprofits. Supported by a network of consultants, trainers, and others, Bobbe developed an effective mix of classes, webinars, roundtables and other resources that continue to equip nonprofit staff and boards to flourish. So, once again, “Thank you, Bobbe!”
I’ve spent my entire 15 years in Kalamazoo working for nonprofits, most recently with the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra. I look forward to working with you in this new capacity. In my spare time, I enjoy reading nonprofit leadership & management books. One of my favorite authors is Jim Collins. His newest release, Great by Choice, addresses the question: why do some companies thrive in uncertainty, even chaos, and others do not?
Using a comparison study method as he did in Good to Great, Collins demonstrates the value of strong values, consistently applied and the importance of a long-term approach to mission-driven work. As he nears the close of the book, he reiterates one of the main lessons from his previous work: “Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness is largely a matter of conscious choice and discipline.”
What conscious choice has your organization made – what is its mission? Do you know it? Does everyone on the staff and board know it? Is it engraved on their hearts?
To succeed in times such as these – indeed, at any time – clarity of mission is the first imperative.
Jim Collins provides a Good to Great Diagnostic Tool that you may use to assess where your organization is on its journey to being great. When there are differences between businesses and nonprofit (social sector) organizations, he points these out. Find the tool at http://www.jimcollins.com/tools/diagnostic-tool.pdf
Great by Choice
“Is Your Nonprofit’s Website Media Friendly?” An interesting blog by this name dropped into my email box this week from NonprofitPR.org. They point out the need for nonprofits to help media staff: find you; learn about you; and believe in your credibility—FAST. They are always on a deadline, so the more you can help them, the better.
Especially in our changing media environment—with newspapers morphing to online publications, local radio and television sources moving to more ‘canned’ programming—nonprofits must help the remaining journalists any way we can. Websites are the perfect way, since they are available 24/7.
Answer these questions to learn if your website is ‘media-friendly’:
- Is your website easy to find? Or, do you have an obscure name or one that is too long or clever?
- Are your designated media contacts ‘front and center,’ with direct phone/email addresses?
- Is the content on your site current—regularly updated—and ‘real’ news-worthy news?
- Do you have a section showing previous media coverage you’ve had?
- Do you have experts on your staff or board who media can trust on topics the media may be researching or seeking when ‘news hits’? Include short bios of your experts.
By helping media find you, learn about you, and reach out to you when they need to, your nonprofit will gain excellent PR and be seen as a community authority and resource far beyond the media.
The NonprofitPR.org blog is produced by Shoestring Creative Group, a source of free samples, ideas, blogs, and more. Check them out.
Is Your Nonprofit’s Website Media Friendly?
Mark Grimm recently presented an AFP webinar on the financial impacts of compelling messages. He says your communication has to show impact in less than 15 seconds! The way to do that is through simple, clear, precise language. He suggests achieving clear messages by ‘peeling the onion,’ over and over, until the focus is on core benefits to the reader (potential donor). The focus has to be on the reader, not the writer and his/her perspective from within the organization.
“You are proving to the donor you are making the change in the world the donor wants to pay for.” ~~Robbe Healy, Farr Healy Consulting
Clarity is the Issue
- Simplicity: uncluttered; no jargon
- Precise: no extra words; only what is important
- Benefits, not services/programs: what the organization really delivers to everyday people
- Prove it: select data that ‘tell the benefit story’
- Emotion and reason: use testimonials related to the top three impact areas
- Human face: connect with the reader with eye-catching visuals
By writing with clarity, (potential) donors are more easily drawn into your message, mission, and impact—and, more likely to find what they want to pay for. Once donors invest in your organization, thank them and ask why they gave a gift. Simple, yet so seldom done. Their answers will help build relationships and further clarify your next message.
ONEplace presented an Association of Fundraising Professionals webinar this week, in which Sandy Rees, CFRE, provided a system for sustainable fundraising that can be implemented at nonprofits of all sizes and lifecycle stages.
Her system includes seven basic steps and several planning tools to assure a structured, balanced approach.
Step 1: Make fundraising a priority.
Step 2: Understand why people give.
Step 3: Identify the best donor prospect.
Step 4: Tell your story.
Step 5: Plan how and when will you ask for a gift.
Step 6: Acknowledge the gift and build relationships.
Step 7: Evaluate success.
Sounds a lot like other fundraising advice, right? Sandy’s model spells out what each of the steps means, and how to put each into action in a methodical, approachable way using a number of planning charts. Detailed, written planning is the difference in her model.
Her website has a wealth of practical resources and tips, including: a free CD for beginning fundraisers, videos, an eNews, books and CD sets, and blogs.
Hope you find some helpful information to set you on the path to ‘getting fully funded.’
Get Fully Funded
The 2011 ArtServe Report on the arts and culture sector’s impact on Michigan’s economy and quality of life is an eye-opener!
It showcases the results accumulated from the Cultural Data Project, Americans for the Arts’ Creative Industries Reports, and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Over 400 Michigan nonprofit arts organizations are included, many in the Kalamazoo area.
Some of the key findings (2009 data unless otherwise noted):
- Over $256 million was raised in successful capital campaigns
- 12,667,492 visits to arts and culture venues and events
- 1,841,368 school children experienced arts and culture venues and events
- $152,000,000 in salaries for 15,560 jobs
- More than $2 billion in tourism revenues (17% of all tourism dollars in 2010)
- $462,791,322 in annual direct expenditure by the creative community
- For every $1 Michigan invests in arts and culture, $51 is pumped back into the state’s economy!
- ‘From 2006 to 2010, the number of arts related jobs increased by 4% and arts related businesses increased by 43%!’
To see the complete report and more exciting information and opportunities, visit http://creativestatemi.artservemichigan.org/
2011 ArtServe Report
New Year blogs from four respected leadership authors/consultants came into my email box last week. Each addresses five items (why five?) related to leadership they recommend for action in 2012.
While these authors write primarily for business audiences, their advice is just as appropriate to nonprofit staff and volunteers.
Follow the links for their complete comments.
Dorie Clark covers her “going to stop cold turkey” list:
- Responding like a trained monkey
- Mindless traditions
- Reading annoying things
- Work that’s not worth it
- Making things more complicated than they should be
Mike Myatt shares his personal priorities for the year, and he includes a bonus item (#6).
- Family: if you are struggling with work/life balance, choose family
- White space: clearing your mind to be and act only in the present
- Listen: stop talking and listen
- Unlearn: be willing to learn and change opinions and actions
- Engage: it’s not about you, it’s about the people you serve and lead
- (Bonus) Read: few things impact your thought life more than reading
John Coleman and Bill George recommend actions for aspiring Gen X and Millennial professionals to prepare for challenges of leadership roles:
- Find a trustworthy mentor
- Form a leadership development group
- Volunteer in a civic or service organization
- Work in or travel to one new country
- Ask more questions than you answer
Leadership Tips for 2012