by Beth Diemert, Director of Affiliate Services
“I didn’t sign up for this!”
That quote may be something that a strong leader in a pregnancy help organization may be tempted to shout—out loud! That’s because Part 2 of the third Realm of Leadership we are addressing is often the most challenging: navigating the complex world of legislators and policymaking.
Many of us entered this calling into pregnancy help with just that—a calling. We knew and were committed to serving women in need with the love and truth we innately possessed, from our own relationship with the One who called us. And many of the same would say that the political side of this issue was not a high motivator. And yet, here we are.
Legislation in the post-Roe arena has become a very real factor in our ministry, as it has a direct impact on the work we’re doing in our center, clinic, or maternity home. While it can be tempting to avoid this arena altogether, pregnancy help must be represented through engagement with legislators and policymakers.
Why? Because it is necessary to ensure unborn children are given a chance at life and that women facing unintended pregnancies get the support and resources they need. And that is what we signed up for.
The reality is that our mission, which was once able to serve women in a somewhat quiet and private way very effectively, has now been cast warp speed into an increasingly public, hostile, environment set on eliminating it all together. And that means once again, our methods have to change. The mission remains the same, and the calling remains the same, but fully serving her to the best of our ability must include advocating for her rights and defending the integrity of our good work in a very public space.
1. First, it means staying informed about the latest laws and regulations that affect your ministry. Finding a trusted advisor within your state that can be your information source is vital. Often this can be a relationship with your like-minded public policy folks who are knee-deep in this arena daily. It also means speaking out and informing others on relevant issues. Become that voice in your community representing life and advocating for your clients in as many venues and events as possible. Build relationships with elected officials. Open the doors wide, invite them in, show them the good work you do, and help them understand what an asset you are in the community. And learn how to make your voice heard at public hearings and meetings. Media training is a must-do!
2. Second, build your brand! Your community needs to know and love you when the hits come! Build your brand around your amazing resources and support! Create community engagement strategies and build strong community relationships. Don’t allow your organization to be the best-kept secret! The goal is to become a household name.
3. Lastly, learning how State Coalitions serve the pregnancy help community well in providing leaders a safe space to confide, collaborate, and create. There is no better time than now to unite and stand strong. There is strength in numbers! In post-Roe America, the pregnancy help community is more robust than ever, and the coalition model is alive and well. Heartbeat currently lists 40 coalitions and contacts on our website, most of them organized at the state level.
Strengthening State Coalitions in this season can happen with simple steps; the most obvious is to start a coalition in states where they don’t currently exist! The great news is that there are plenty of models out there to adopt or adapt, and plenty of great leaders who would be willing to help a new state get started. It can also happen by increasing services that the coalition provides such as increased networking on current issues the state is facing post-Roe, and perhaps starting working groups that can address more specific state issues.
The most strategic opportunity for a coalition in the uncharted waters most states are wading in today, may be the consideration of reorganization. Some coalitions currently may not be a legal entity, they operate loosely with no formal structure. Others may be organized as a 501(c)(3). But with the overturn of Roe that threw legislation back to the states, it might be time to consider a coalition by gaining 501(c)(4) or 501(c)(6) status. Both classifications offer more opportunities to lobby and influence legislation within the state. It gives the state’s pregnancy help community a legitimate and stronger voice and lifts some restrictions in place with a 501(c)(3).
There are organizational requirements that would need to be heeded in terms of membership and governance, but these are very doable and could prove well worth it. Investigating these models with an attorney and/or CPA is highly recommended. Your first step should be re-visiting your coalition’s mission and solidifying your purpose and calling as a group. Then, determine what classification will best help you reach those goals and objectives.
If you haven’t already, connect with your state coalition and join their efforts in legislative engagement and advocating for life, or create them. We are better together!
As we reminded you earlier in this series, "leading a pregnancy help ministry is not for the faint of heart. It requires skill, dedication, and a deep commitment to the Gospel of Life. By navigating the three realms of leadership, with vision, courage, and grace, you can ensure unborn children are given a chance at life and that women facing unintended pregnancies get the support and resources they need. Keep pressing forward, knowing that your work is noble and necessary..." The Lord is with you, and remember, the legislative community is one more constituency to speak life to!
To read more in this series, visit the Three Realms of Leadership That Shouldn't Be Ignored.
by Cindi Boston-Bilotta, Vice President of Mission Advancement, Heartbeat International
You are incredible change-makers in your community. You plan, follow through, inspire, sacrifice, lead, and come alongside women who will make life-and-death decisions. Their lives are changed forever because of what you do!
But how do you communicate success to your financial partners?
A 2022 Stanford Social Innovation Review study gave a comparable view with metrics shifting donations from charities with only a good pitch to those with supportive results. When combined with a good pitch, including “features” of an organization, metrics create a winning combination. More than 70 percent of surveyed donors said they care about metrics.
Interesting! Donors desire an emotional connection to their giving and want data-driven investment. The goal of donor care is to respect the interests and passions of donors. But how do you communicate the success so your financial sponsors so they can grasp the storyline in statistics? We show change through storytelling and relevant metrics to show return on investment.
When storytelling and statistics are combined in publications, articles, thank you notes, public relations, and conversations, your donors will grow a stronger connection to your organization as you show evidence that their investment makes a difference.
With a healthy donor care plan, several critical components must be in place to create strong donor relationships and trust. The Donor Loyalty Cycle, created by Veritus Group, gives us a glimpse:
In every stage, metrics complement storytelling to assist a donor in understanding the mission and the donor’s role as a change-maker. Here are a few examples:
Create Awareness – share the need – use community health department data to prove the need of the population you serve – the number of pregnant women, an estimate of women using chemical abortion, the long-term impacts of fatherless families or under-educated single moms, etc. Prove the need and then show how your programs will impact for the better.
Ask – match the interests of your donors with your programs. After showing the need, use data to predict your impact if you were to start or upgrade a program. Inspire a donor by matching their interests to a program growth goal. If they love the Ultrasound program, give stats showing a greater rate of life choices after an ultrasound. Then, share a moving story to bring in the emotion of a powerful story.
Acknowledge and Affirm – contact financial partners early and often about how their investment changes lives. Donors want to know how metrics reveal a conversion for your clients. Statistics open the eyes of a donor to the relevance of their gifts. They can see the impact on your clients. They are helping create a hopeful future for families.
Report – communication reminds sponsors that their monthly gift, quarterly pledge, or donation to a specific need or program will give them a sense of purpose and create an in-depth view of what their funds have accomplished through quotes, stories, pictures, and return on investment.
Motivate – inspire so donors are moved and consider giving again. They will see the impact of their gift and, as you give them new opportunities to provide again, will likely re-invest in your programs.
A written and verbal report can balance emotional stories, quotes, and incredible outcomes. Recently, a Heartbeat donor cried as he related to the desperation of a client's story. The stories and stats reminded him that we are creating safer spaces for moms, dads, and babies. We are preserving the branches of family trees. We share the love of Christ on behalf of donors who may never meet the clients they help. Change, shown through stories and statistics, inspires and motivates our generous donors.
Stories and statistics are a dynamic duo used to create interest, develop loyalty, and inform our financial sponsors that they are vital to our mission.
Many a well-thought-out strategy under-delivers its potential because there is no continuing framework for implementing it…no workable plan. How do we go from the choices of the ends and means of strategy to the steps and tasks of execution?
If we’re like many, we fail to see planning as distinct work in its own right. Rather, we think planning is something to rush through so we can get on with the work. Not so. Planning is a creative act, using the imagination God gave us to see something in our mind’s eye that does not currently exist and determine how to bring it to life. It’s parallel to God’s process of creation, except He can speak things into existence and we have to work things into existence.
How do we begin? Here’s an illuminating comment from a perhaps unexpected source. “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and starting on the first one.” Mark Twain
As an aside, in most cases working as a group will yield better plans than working on our own. Why is this? First, each member of the group brings a different array of knowledge and experience to the process. Second, members of the group build off the ideas of others in ways that can’t happen working alone. Third, the time when others are speaking in the conversation creates mental space for new connections that often does not occur when we’re on our own.
Back to the business at hand. At this link, Workplan, available for you to print, is a simple worksheet for breaking your complex tasks into manageable ones and beginning to get them done. Let me explain the columns:
Bringing the series to a close, in February, we discussed direction decisions—things like mission and vision. In March we talked about bridging from those high-level concepts by developing a strategy—choices of ends and means to fulfill your organization’s purpose. Finally, this month we’ve offered a simple framework for reliably translating strategy into robust plans for getting things done.
Assignment: Sometime soon, compare your processes to those discussed in the past three months. What elements of them could you adopt to make your processes more robust and your outcomes more reliable?
by Tracie Shellhouse, MCLC, LASVice President of Ministry Services, Heartbeat International
Remember early 2020? It was an uncertain time. We didn’t know what would happen next or how each of our local pregnancy centers would respond to the spread of COVID-19. At New Hope Pregnancy Care Center, we had three people planning to travel to the Heartbeat International Annual Conference in Seattle.
Then everything changed – each day seemed to bring new or different information, unprecedented circumstances, and hard decisions – and I had to figure out how to make things work best for my organization. Now what? Surely the Annual Conference would have to be canceled due to shutdowns and travel bans! I had no idea what Heartbeat International was working on and the amazing opportunity they were creating for my team.
When the Conference in Seattle changed to a Virtual one, I had the opportunity to (happily) make some new decisions. Suddenly, our entire paid staff was able to attend instead of just the three who were planning to travel. We were able to keep serving clients due to adjusted hours (remember, 2020), and our entire paid staff engaged and learned with co-laborers for life around the world.
It was amazing!
Some members of our team who attended the virtual conference would have never had the opportunity to be equipped by pregnancy help leaders outside the center. Our office manager always stayed in town to hold down the fort while others went to conferences. Thanks to COVID-19 (God works everything together for our good), she didn’t stay behind in 2020. Instead, she attended the Heartbeat Annual Conference! She was so excited and empowered by what she learned. The experience connected her to pregnancy help outside her immediate community. Today she serves women all over the world as an Option Line consultant.
Two of our interns attended the virtual conference, too. They were introduced to professional and robust training giving them insight into the power of pregnancy help and a deeper understanding of its impact on the world at large. Their virtual conference registration fees proved to be a great investment when their internships came to an end and they were added to the full-time paid staff.
As you may know, the 2023 Heartbeat International Annual Conference currently has a sellout crowd for the in-person experience. And yet, the Virtual Conference is still available and is as valuable today as it was in 2020 when we couldn’t meet in person.
Now, I’m no longer an Executive Director, but if I were going to “bring” my full staff to the Virtual Conference again in 2023, here are some strategies I’d use:
Most pregnancy help organizations can’t take everyone to conference in person, some of us must stay home and keep the centers open and running. Justifying the investments for travel, food, and lodging costs for staff members whose responsibilities and roles don’t clearly fit into particular workshop tracks can also be a challenge. There are still options! Providing training for your team with the virtual conference is a great way to re-inspire and re-ignite passion for the work they are doing. Affirming our teams in this way can transform our organizations.
Finally, when we participate in workshops presented by those within the movement, it affirms that God calls whomever He wants. Our experiences, backgrounds, and methods are not the same. Yet here we are, unified by our callings and commitment to the mission of pregnancy help, where we belong.
And that, perhaps more than anything, is the true value of participating in the Virtual Conference.
Find out more about the 2023 Heartbeat International Virtual Conference.
by Andrea Trudden, Vice President of Communications & MarketingHeartbeat International
Have you heard the term "Reproductive Health Care Provider" before? If you are like me, the phrase brings to mind "Reproductive Rights" and therefore I automatically think of Abortion Facilities. But I would be wrong.
As a pregnancy help organization, you provide reproductive health care through a variety of means for women: abstinence education, pregnancy tests, limited ultrasounds, and in some cases, STI/STD testing and prenatal care. We are blessed to have healthcare professionals on staff or volunteering at pregnancy centers across the nation, using their God-given gifts to help the mission and care for women at one of the most delicate times in their lives.
This nuance of language is important as we navigate new waters that are sometimes putting pregnancy centers in harm's way through abortion-related violent extremism.
Leveraging the label "Reproductive Health Care Provider" properly appropriates language that actually applies more to us, who discuss all options, than those who only favor abortion. In fact, the Department of Justice (DOJ) identifies pregnancy help centers as "Reproductive Health Care Providers" which empowers them (the DOJ) to do more to protect you from threats of violence under the FACE Act.To pull from our Protect Your PHO page:
The Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (“FACE Act”) likely applies to your center and could be a very powerful tool in dealing with protestors. The FACE Act prohibits violent, threatening, damaging and obstructive behavior toward anyone obtaining or providing reproductive health services. Violators of the FACE Act could be fined or even imprisoned. The Act also provides civil remedies to the victims, including compensatory and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief. The FACE Act provides for statutory damages, making it even easier to recover money from protesters who violate it. If protesters outside your clinic attempt to block or impede access to the clinic, to intimidate your clients, or cause property damage, please contact Heartbeat to discuss your options. We have been informed that from the FBI's perspective, pregnancy help organizations are covered under the FACE Act.
It is important for us to be aware of what laws exist that we can use to help protect our organizations and push back against violent extremists. While we are glad that the physical attacks against pregnancy help organizations have lessened, it is important that we remain vigilant and have a clear understanding of our rights.
The work we do is good. Our clients know it, our supporters know it, and we know it. Keep up the life-changing work you do!
Practical Tip #1: Review Protect Your PHO with your staff and Board.
Practical Tip #2: Sign up for tomorrow's webinar - The "8Ds" of Risk Management (October 12, 2022 at 12pm EST), presented by Darin J Goodwiler MBA, CCEP, Samaritan's Purse VP of Compliance and Risk/CCRO. In this webinar, you'll learn the methodology of a risk management assessment that measures and evaluates risks to people, facilities, infrastructure, internal controls, and reputations. This thorough assessment has been taught for 30 years and will provide you with an effective framework to help you ensure that you have all your bases covered to keep your organization protected!
With laws recently passed (TX Heartbeat Bill) and legislation pending (Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health) along with many others, we believe this is a “must-read” for Boards and Leadership teams of Pregnancy Help Clinics.
Now is the time, at the board level through the entire organization, to re-visit your Policy & Procedures (along with your Medical Director) to ensure they are inclusive of all that is necessary to empower a woman to make a life-affirming decision.
Heartbeat's Director of Medical Impact, Christa Brown BSN, RN, LAS, recently wrote the following article for our September Medical Matters publication, as first in a series that outlines techniques abortion facility staff have used to deceive women seeking information to make a pregnancy decision. As you read the article, think about timing, accessibility, and approved protocols.
Overall, boards are responsible for developing and overseeing written P&P that clarify the values of the organization, increase professionalism, improve communications, make leadership transitions more seamless, provide protection, and release the staff to be creative and productive because they know where “boundaries” are to serve clients with care and competence.
We hope this piece opens a great dialogue for your leadership team.
Read the full article "The Many Ways Abortion Providers Deceive Women #1: Fetal heartbeat and fetal heart motion"
Deception: “Your baby has no heartbeat” (read the truth)
by Mary E Peterson, Housing SpecialistHeartbeat International
I was young and a little crazy when we started the pregnancy help organization. Someone said to me, in jest, "You are just too naïve to realize what you are attempting can't be done." Looking back, they were probably right. But nonetheless, God took me on a wild adventure of organizational development. Within fifteen years, I had the joy of sitting on my couch brainstorming the basics of a vision for a start-up ministry and I also had the joy of ribbon-cutting on our fifth location. For better and for worse, I experienced rapid organizational growth and learned a lot of lessons along the way. Here's a taste:
1) Know your mission. Grow from your mission.
I love a crazy new idea and lots of them were thrown at us -- run a ministry restaurant, start a theater troupe, build a neighborhood of low-income housing for single mothers. All of these captured my attention for a time but ultimately, were set to the side to stay focused on our core mission. Be really good at what you're good at. Be the ministry that the Holy Spirit breathed life into. Let the other stuff go...even if they seem wildly interesting.
2) Balance administrative growth with programmatic growth.
Programmatic growth is the fun stuff and it's the work that grantors and donors get excited about. But it is through building an administrative foundation that programmatic growth is sustained. Sometimes years’ worth of fundraising, staff development, and system building has to be done in order to grow well. If the foundation isn't strong, having the perfect furniture doesn't make sense.
3) Spend time on systems.
Systems are the plumbing to your organization -- getting information where it needs to go so that when you need it, it's there. Without systems, the entire organization experiences stress. Sometimes leaders who are great at big visions aren't great at systems. If that is case, get the right people involved to help build out the systems for your ministry. Growth is always disruptive but less so when strong organizational systems are in place.
4) Be wise and prudent. Be bold and courageous.
I love it when Scriptural ideas seem at odds, and this is a great example. Both statements are absolutely true. Plan, strategize, research, and consider. But also, dream, stretch, act, and step out in faith. Have a Board and staff around you that can do both!
5) Don't get ahead of your team.
The hard part of being a leader of vision is bringing the whole organization along. If you get too far ahead of them, you risk staff frustration, team exhaustion, and organizational strain. My rule of thumb as a leader was to peak ahead a few steps to see what major decisions lay ahead. I would begin to think about those decisions and gather information so that when it was time to consider them, we weren't starting from a blank slate. But your team needs to go on the journey with you -- and you might need to take the pace down to travel together!
Want to talk more about growth related ideas? Join us for a webinar on Growth and Ministry Development July 22, 2021 at Noon (Eastern)!
by Peggy Forrest
Most of us would agree that any organization’s ability to successfully carry out its mission is tied to the quality of its leadership. Be that a President, CEO, or Executive Director - the effectiveness of that person’s leadership, makes a difference. So, it’s easy to understand why it is mission critical to ensure the next leader will be the correct one, and the transition from one leader to the next will be as smooth as possible. This is especially true in maternity housing because of the deeply personal nature of the work. Leadership transition is critically important, and having a plan guiding that effort will help reduce the stresses which accompany such a transition. Succession planning takes focus and effort. It involves the Board of Directors working in partnership with the current leader.
A succession plan has three main goals:
A succession plan contemplates:
A succession plan should include:
Regardless of the age of your Agency, or the tenure of your leader, succession planning may be a timely and important topic to address during your Agency’s next strategic planning efforts.
Listen in to a podcast from Mary Peterson and Emily Prins on the same topic of succession planning!
Heartbeat International has additional information related to succession planning in our Governing Essentials Manual. Click here to find out more.
by Robin Fuller
Robin Fuller will be presenting a workshop on this topic (An Essential Culture of Trust) at the 2021 Virtual Conference. Click here to learn more!
Trust on a team is critical, especially inside of a pregnancy center. If wondering whether or not you have a culture of trust, it may look something like this:
Trust on the team abounds. Each person is clear about their own job and doesn’t do the job of another team member. I trust you to do your job and you trust me to do mine. There’s no worrying about whether or not things are getting done because there is good reporting. No one is wondering if there is talk going on behind the scenes or behind one another’s backs, because we trust each other to speak honestly and clearly, and to handle conflict and confrontation early. Humility abounds, and staff is invited to speak freely. There may be intense conversations within a meeting, but everyone has the chance to be heard. Once a decision is made everyone gets behind the decision and there is no grumbling or complaining afterward. Conflict, when there is trust, is simply people trying to discover the truth so the best possible solution can be found.
Building trust starts with the leader. Here are some basic building blocks for creating a Culture of Trust:
If you’d like to build a culture of trust on your team, these are some ways to begin.
Robin Fuller, as a professional coach, walks alongside ministry leaders and helps them finish well. Her 23-year experience as a pregnancy center director, combined with her personal story and passion for the unborn, make her the perfect fit for any pregnancy center leader wanting to improve their leadership skills and plan for a great finish. robinfuller.coach
by Tamara “Tammy” Hall, M.ED
Tamara Hall will be presenting a workshop on this topic at the 2021 Heartbeat International Annual Conference in Columbus, OH. Click here to learn more about all Conference options.
“STOP, DROP AND ROLL” If ever we are on fire, these words of warning are so engraved in our subconscious that our survival instincts will spring into action, sending us rolling to the ground. The three simple words, although rarely needed and arguably dramatic, are indeed life-saving techniques.
I find it an irony of adulthood that the childhood commands, “stop, drop and roll” have morphed into oft used, although ineffective, tools for those facing personal, financial and spiritual trials. Overwhelmed and under-appreciated, many workers and volunteers emotionally revert to an updated version of the childhood directives:
Stop communicating out of fear of offending anyone, even those we love.
Drop out of activities we previously enjoyed and responsibilities we previously embraced.
Roll into a figurative fetal position of fear and inaction.
And yes, these behaviors might temporarily smother the flames but they will not extinguish the fire. 2020 with its polarizing political rhetoric and the COVID pandemic exacerbated our stress levels like athletes binging on steroids.
Given the seriousness of today’s topic, you may wonder why I added the somewhat humorous sub-title, “Burnout is not a Way to Keep Warm.” The answer is simple: people learn more and retain longer if they are enjoying themselves. Discussing even serious topics with laughter does not minimize the pain of a life out of balance. But like the proverbial spoonful of sugar, laughter does help the medicine go down. And most importantly, it’s biblical: “A cheerful heart is a good medicine, but a downcast spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs: 17:22).
Trust me friends, you do not want dry bones. It’s a sign of death. You show me a person who has lost their ability to laugh and I’ll show you a person who is on emotional life support.
At the height of the COVID epidemic, pro-life workers, volunteers and leaders were defined by many as “non-essential.” How demoralizing. How demeaning. Those who made, shipped and sold baby products were widely considered essential but the people saving babies were considered as disposable as the babies they were dedicated to saving. Our secular society offered political and financial support to abortion centers (aptly described in John 10:10 as, “The thief who comes only to steal and kill and destroy.”) Meanwhile, the same people declared financial and political warfare on those who protect the very children God knitted together in their mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13). The definition of the pro-life movement as “non-essential” was designed to demoralize the very warriors who stand between life and death for the most vulnerable.
How sad. How crazy. How evil.
We are doing God’s work and we must cling to his promise that He will never fail us. He holds us tightly when we weep, He picks us up when we fail and He rejoices with us every time a precious child breathes his or her first breath.
When the burden of stress and burnout threatens to send your life spinning out of control, remember the new and improved version of Stop! Drop! And Roll!
Stop listening to the attacks of the world. Turn off the turbulent chatter and embrace the peace of a quiet prayer time. “Be Still and Know that I am God” Psalm 46:10.
Drop the unrealistic burden of being all things to all people. Focus on those things that glorify God, restore your family and clarify your calling.
Roll with the punches. God doesn’t promise us an easy life. What God promises us is far more valuable: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the fullest” (Psalm 119:13).
God promises us eternal life. He promises to bring justice in His own way, in His own time. (…and lest we forget... Stop Drop and Roll will be totally ineffective against the fires raging around those who reject God’s mercy and grace.)
If you are a part of the pregnancy help community experiencing a struggle right now, please know this: Your burnout and discouragement are real and understandable. Your life is stretched and pulled like ill-fitting masks at a Zumba class.
Nonetheless, you must not give up or give in. God has called you to this work and he will equip you. One step at a time, one day at a time, one life at a time….you make a difference.
Tamara is an award-winning newspaper columnist, radio host and speaker. She has presented in 49 states and 8 Canadian provinces. She was a speaker for the Family Research Council DC Briefing and emceed for President Bush and President Trump when they visited Montana. Tamara authored the gift book, Motherhood: A Noble Calling. This book, beautifully Illustrated by Alora Foreman, is empowering women to embrace the miracle of Motherhood.
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