News, comments, resources, and more for nonprofits.
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 new direction - 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.
ONEplace renovations commence this week. While the conference room remains intact, the walls surrounding the center are coming down. With books boxed, computers carted and pamphlets packed, we’re ready for the walls to fall.
In light of our renovation, it’s tempting to play with the metaphor of “tearing down walls to embrace a broader perspective.” Indeed, creating opportunities for you to connect with your nonprofit colleagues holds a prominent position in our current plan. And, already, several important connections and insights have come about as a result of networking at events and online. Even so, I’ll avoid that temptation.
It’s also quite enticing to conjure the image of “looking out beyond the resource into the wider world.” You know, mapping new ideas and tools on to the current landscape, keeping a long-term view during short-term highs & lows, and continually asking “who else needs to be at the table for this discussion?” Very enticing, but not worth pursuing.
I could, of course, look to an outcome of the renovation – a focused collection, displayed at eye level with featured titles that get to the heart of current professional development needs. But, it’s too early for that.
So, for now, I’ll just leave it as “pardon our dust.”
Wait! Perhaps I should write on the power of asking forgiveness for those little things that….
Maybe next time,
Under the category, “Can’t leave well enough alone,” we're shaking up our communications…but only slightly.
Avid ONEplace email watchers know that, every other Monday, our eNews brought you this blog, job postings, and programming for the upcoming three weeks. On the off-Monday, our This Week email listed programs just for the week ahead.
In an act worthy of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup commercial, we combined the two to create our new This Week (which is basically a weekly eNews using This Week as the title).
Why make such a dramatic change?
First, new jobs are posted every week, so it makes sense to include the link each week. Second, listing three weeks of programming each week saves you time and clicks. And third, using the name This Week rather than eNews, saves confusion with our new ONEplace NEWSletter.
That’s right – this Thursday marks the inaugural NEWSletter designed to keep you informed on where we're headed and how you can best utilize our programs and services. It’ll be brief. To the point. And helpful. If not, we’ll stop doing it.
Leadership resides at the core of our failure or our success. If incompetent, it ruins us. If ineffective, it holds us back. If satisfactory, it moves us forward. If exemplary, it takes us beyond our imagination.
We need satisfactory leadership.
One of my college professors offered our computer science class some excellent counsel when he said, “To succeed you don’t need to over-achieve at your job – just do it right.” We need leaders who just do it right.
Lou Salza, Headmaster of Cleveland’s Lawrence School, defines leaders as
…people with a professional, personal, and passionate commitment to solving a problem about which they possess a commanding and deep understanding. “Professional” means they have studied the problem and have a sense of what works and doesn’t. “Personal” means that they are all in—and willing to burn out to succeed. “Passionate” means that it is not about them as people. It is about the mission—solving the problem.
Satisfactory leaders embrace the first two of Lou’s three qualifications. They know their stuff, and they know how to deliver in a professional way. Further, they pour their lives into it – what Jim Collins describes as fanatic ambition for the cause.
Leaders who take their fanatic ambition beyond themselves, their careers and even their organizations, and focus on the organization’s mission, become exemplary leaders. These rare individuals embody the paradox of Collins’ Level Five Leadership – fanatic professional ambition and extreme personal humility. They connect with others who share their vision, and, together, they deliver transformative community impact. They also care deeply for their people – staff, board, volunteers & supporters – knowing that “organizations” don’t succeed, people do.
We value and are grateful for the leaders we have in our community, but our shared dilemma – here and throughout the country – is the need for more satisfactory leaders. While much time and money is spent on leadership development, we still find ourselves lacking.
In her book, The End of Leadership, Harvard professor Barbara Kellerman offers her critique of the leadership industry and suggests that we need to recognize that leadership development is a long-term proposition (not the result of a brief series of workshops designed in a one-size-fits-all fashion), and, more pointedly, we need to stop ignoring and start addressing leadership that is ineffective or incompetent.
As we look ahead, ONEplace commits to a three-year plan of establishing long-term leadership development beginning with a balance of workshops and various small group intensives. Further, we’re expanding our board of director services to help boards better develop themselves as well as their organizations.
Leadership is our core issue. Let’s stay connected to build strong leadership over the years to come.
Fall kicks off expanded and more targeted services from ONEplace to you.
First, our programming focuses more on leadership development. Our ONEplace Leadership Series workshops bring executive and non-executive leadership information, skills, and processes to you every month. Plus, in addition to the annual ONEplace Nonprofit Leadership Academy (info coming in September), we’re offering intentional small group intensives beginning this fall. Small groups are forming around mindfulness based learning, case study based learning, and content area based learning.
Expanded Board of Director services also start this fall including workshops, customized training, and direct assistance. Sit down with ONEplace staff to discuss your specific needs and challenges, and together we’ll develop an approach to work for you.
Explore an array of information and instruction on our website. We’re curating general information and providing it 24/7 on our website, as downloadable PDFs, and via video. As a result, this information sits at your fingertips and reaches those of you who can’t always get away from work to attend a class.
Finally, you can keep up on emerging services and local area nonprofit issues through ONEplace NEWSletter, our new monthly newsletter. Launching on August 29, NEWSletter offers you news of developing resources and services to strengthen your skills, your staff, and your organization.
Your success defines our commitment – year round professional development, free of charge. See you soon!
I’m writing this on Friday, and I’m grateful. So, recalling an exercise from a Forbes article on gratitude in business, I wrote out 25 things I’m grateful for (try it – takes less than five minutes).
Sixteen of my 25 were people – mostly groups of people. Connecting with these groups and the individuals within them fill my days with amazing experiences. Each brings perspective, offers insight and contributes in ways no other could. My life – our collective lives – would be less without any one of them.
Having completed my first year at ONEplace, I write reports, close out books and evaluate efforts – administrivia. These will be duly noted, mapped on to multi-year trends, and subsequently filed. Indeed, they’re important (I saw the webinar). But they never fully capture the vitality I see every day in the eyes, gestures, and spirit of our nonprofit professionals and volunteers.
So, while I add my voice to the weekly TGIF chorus, I’ll take a brief solo to say, “TGI…you!”
“Try this – it worked last time.”
“Marvin had a similar problem. How did he fix it?”
“Just smack it!”
How often do we take a trial and error approach to fixing problems? It’s good to draw on our expertise and past experience, but every attempted fix costs time and money. So, we can’t afford to just wing it.
In these situations, a rational, step-by-step process provides great assistance. Throughout my career I’ve used a problem management process individually or with a group to address situations large and small. I’ve also taught this process several times to various management teams.
On Wednesday, June 19, I’m offering a Group Problem Solving workshop at ONEplace. This 90-minute session explores how to fully describe a problem, identify possible causes, evaluate those causes and confirm the true cause. The process helps us gather solid data and avoid common pitfalls.
While not panacea’s, processes like these are helpful management tools and set a thoughtful, logical tone to addressing challenges of all sorts.
I’ve read it yet again in another leadership book. This time the quote reads, “…no technique can substitute for face-to-face human interaction.”*
That’s why we scheduled the Kalamazoo Nonprofit Connection – LIVE event earlier this month, to provide an environment for us to connect, get to know each other, and learn from one another. Our post-event survey provided great feedback on the event.
72% responded to the survey
86% said that the reason they went was to meet people & network
88% rated the event high overall
99% said that they would like to meet either quarterly (57%) or bi-annually (22%)
96% said that the best time to meet was after 4 pm
Overall, comments were positive and encouraging.
“I met several people that I will connect with again.”
“Perfect set-up with tables, chairs and pens/paper.”
“This event was great and I look forward to connecting with community leaders at future events.”
With the strong response and high preference for quarterly gatherings, we’ll stay with Wednesday evening and meet again in August, followed by a pre-holiday gathering in November. So, mark your calendars for Wed August 14, 4:30 – 6 pm and Wed November 20, 4:30 – 6 pm.
*Quote from “The Leadership Challenge” 3rd edition, by James Kouzes & Barry Posner, page 181
When I hear the phrase, “once upon a time,” I immediately relax, settle into my chair, and focus my attention on what’s coming next. I’m about to hear a story.
Stories form the foundation of virtually all our entertainment and learning. All TV series, movies, and books (even most non-fiction) are stories. Songs, lectures, dances, and many paintings evoke stories. It’s how we convey information and instruction, and it’s how we turn information into meaning,
Communicating with donors and other stakeholders requires us to tell stories. Yet, many of us struggle with where to start, how to gather stories, and how best to tell them.
Over the next few weeks, ONEplace offers events targeted on this challenge. Great Stores = Connection (May 29) provides interview questions to draw out information and tips on how to engage staff in gathering good stories. Plus, we’ll look at several examples.
In Assess Your Qualitative Impact (May 30), Demarra Gardner shows us how to evaluate our organization’s programs and services, drawing out the information that paints a comprehensive picture of how we are fulfilling our mission.
ONEplace also explores two arenas for telling your story with How to Win Corporate Grants (May 21) and Asking for a Legacy Gift (June 6).
Our stories carry power – power to inspire, encourage and motivate. No other medium comes close. Make it work for you.
How do you achieve clarity on gnarly issues?
As highly-wired, multi-networked, resource-rich folks we likely turn to our various webs of family and friends as well as books and blogs. Yet, we may be overlooking the most powerful teacher of all – ourselves.
When my son was a preschooler, he simply would not act on a suggestion or direction from me until he had made it his own. His entire body revealed his process from “I’m not so sure” to “maybe” to “I have decided that I’ll do this.” It had to make sense to him and, in essence, become his idea.
As adults, I observe (in myself and others) that we’re little different. Simply being advised or directed toward a certain solution or course of action doesn’t mean we’ll blindly give our assent. It needs to make sense to us. Often, this is a quick bit of consideration. But on those complex, many-layered issues, we need more.
Many authors suggest steps we can take, and our Achieving Clarity ONEpage resource provides a brief digest of these. Yet, outside sources alone don’t motivate action. Until we take the time to individually consider, mull and reflect – listening to the guide within – we will not commit to serious action.
When we want to achieve “buy in” with an individual or group, the critical step is not telling, it’s listening. How do you best listen to your inner guide?
A Hidden Wholeness