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 Jor-El Godsey, President of Heartbeat International
About a month into my new role as the Executive Director in my new state of Colorado, I traveled to a retreat center, Young Life Camp, nestled in the foothills at 14,204 ft., Mt. Princeton. I was there for the weekend to participate in my first-ever Rocky Mountain Counselors Conference.
The session opened and soon we were in a time of praise and worship. I scanned the crowd, more than 180 strong, only to realize that I was the only man in the room (no disrespect, but I’m not including the worship pastor and the drummer on the dais). The phrase “fish out of water” might’ve come to mind. The year was 1999. (Okay, stop snickering, I know that was the last century, er, even the last millennium.)
Fortunately, the ratio has improved since then. I mean, how could it not improve on 0.005%?! Every year, the number of men, as a percentage of the women, at our annual Heartbeat International Pregnancy Help Conference has grown to roughly 15%. (And, no, that count still doesn’t include the worship leader, drummer, or any of the guys with the worship band.)
Yet, the number of men in leadership in pregnancy help is still a relatively small percentage. Because abortion is a woman’s issue, right? At least that’s what is conveyed by our culture when the acceptable answer the man may give in response to her pregnancy is, “I’ll support whatever you want to do.” Or, worse, when rabid pro-abortion feminists shout, “No uterus, no opinion!”
However, abortion has never been that simple. Especially when you realize abortion was made legal in the U.S. by a dozen or so male governors (1967-1971), then by seven male Supreme Court justices with the Roe v. Wade ruling. Men and women are among every part of this issue.
Even from the earliest days of the pregnancy help movement, men have been deeply involved. Indeed, one of Heartbeat’s founders was Dr. John Hillabrand, an obstetrician and gynecologist in a solo practice in Toledo, Ohio for whom “healing was both a physical and a spiritual calling.” (Hartshorn & Godsey, n.d., p. 43). There were many male physicians – in the 1960s, greater than 90% of OBs were male – along with the many female nurses who were encountering and ministering life, to the women and couples who were presented with an unintended and seemingly ill-timed pregnancy.
Since those days, men have even been key leaders in local pregnancy help organizations. Some for two or more decades: Dave (Arizona), Bob (Alabama), Larry (Oregon), Jim (Michigan), Sol (Florida), Patrick (Georgia), Raul (Colorado), and many more. Some of these men are still active in our movement today, along with more recent leaders like Andrew (Tennessee), Aaron (Texas), Josh (California), Mike (New Hampshire), Rich (Colorado), and Toby (Virginia).
There are two things that should be in place for a man to be well-equipped to take the reins of a pregnancy help organization.
#1: He has a healthy understanding of men’s roles in abortion and the issue of abortion. Too often women are at-risk for abortion because of the men involved in the pregnancy. These men may have abandoned her to decide on her own, lending her no support. Or they may be actively pressuring her to abort for their own, selfish reasons. The prevalence of men like these could easily lead to making men “the problem.” Yet, a realistic glimpse into these circumstances shows that such actions arise more from selfishness and are not exclusive to any biological sex. Men can and should be part of the answer in a life decision.
#2: It takes a good cast of supporting women for a man to lead within a pregnancy help organization. The heart of pregnancy help is loving and supporting a woman in her pregnancy. Women are especially gifted in this area. Having women in key client leadership, among the many other possibilities, is a must to maximize what men can bring to a leadership role.
When inviting men into leadership, some policy and budget considerations are involved. (No, I’m not talking about the toilet seat position in the staff bathroom.) Some considerations include:
At Heartbeat, we firmly believe we are “better together.” This includes having men, along with women, in leadership roles across the movement. The winning formula for achieving a true culture of life is when both women and men are actively speaking about life as well as serving and championing the Gift of Life.
Hartshorn, Dr. P., & Godsey, J.-E. (n.d.). The Power of Pregnancy Help (p. 43). Heartbeat International, Inc. https://www.heartbeatservices.org/resources/resources-by-topic/networking/the-power-of-pregnancy-help
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 Kirk Walden, Advancment Specialist
Boards of Excellence
As board members, a primary responsibility is to monitor the budget and make sure the organization is wisely stewarding the funds entrusted to its care. At the end of the year, a reasonable goal is to finish with more funds in the bank than when we started, right?
Yet if a board isn't looking at what happens "after the budget," it is missing the bigger picture.
Beyond the budget, we must consider the amount of funds we are setting aside for next year, the next and the next. Ultimately, we must lay in place a financial foundation for future boards, staff members and most important, those who come in our doors as clients.
For forward-thinking organizations, an Endowment provides this foundation. Webster defines "endowment" as "a large amount of money that has been given to a school, hospital, etc., and that is used to pay for its creation and continuing support," but we can go further. For our non-profit organizations, an endowment is a fund we can draw upon (whether we use only the interest accrued or choose to withdraw a certain amount each year) to fund different aspects—or a large portion—of our ministries.
Every non-profit organization needs to at least carefully consider an endowment. Used wisely an endowment can be a perfect blend of faith and stewardship, two attributes that should complement each other.
Whether a ministry is launching an endowment or looking for ways to grow this fund, one starting point is the ministry budget. Placing a line item in the budget for the endowment reminds us each month that a portion of today's funds should go toward a better tomorrow.
Whether we start with $50 per month or $5,000, we are on our way to a brighter, more successful future for our ministry.
Click here for more of this month's Advancement Trends in the Life Community.
by Kirk Walden, Advancement Specialist
For pregnancy help ministry boards, it is easy to get consumed by major obstacles. When we face big challenges however, there is good news: Help is not far away.
Many sister organizations have likely walked in our particular shoes, and once faced the same challenges we are facing.
Tweet this! Often, major hurdles are overcome by capturing the counsel of those who have walked our road before.
Often, major hurdles are overcome by capturing the counsel of those who have walked our road before.
How do we find that help? Here are a few ideas:
Make ConnectionsAs a board, make it a priority to send representatives to conferences and make professional connections with other board members (Note: the 2015 Heartbeat International Conference is April 7-10 in St. Louis, MO). Getting to know other board members in other areas, or across a state, brings more wisdom to the table.
One to Follow, One to LeadMake it a point to create a close connection with another ministry geographically close by that you believe is on the same journey as yours, but has walked more steps on the path. Perhaps this organization is older; or has a larger client base and/or budget than your own. As questions come up, this ministry may be able to help with answers.
At the same time, offer assistance to a nearby ministry wanting to get to where you are. Be a sounding board.
As board chairmen reach out to each other in these ways, we all grow.
Check in with Your Affiliate NetworkWhether statewide or nationally, your affiliate network may have answers for you. Utilize its expertise and its connections to dozens, hundreds or thousands of ministries when you're "stuck." For instance, Heartbeat International fields questions daily from its more than 1900 affiliates around the world.
Stuck? Whether the issue be fundraising, staffing or a new initiative that doesn't seem to be getting off the ground, help is on the way. All a board needs to do is access the assistance and counsel already in place.
Click here for more of this month's Advancement Trends in the Life Community.
By Kirk Walden, Advancement Specialist
The Year-End Appeal Letter can be one of the most effective fundraising initiatives we have in our development plan.
A successful Year-End Appeal can bring us through a difficult year, launch the coming year on a positive note and perhaps most important, draw new supporters into the ministry.
And the Board of Directors can have a tremendous influence on the success of this endeavor. Here are some ways the board can assist:
Signatures matterEach board member should have a copy of the ministry’s mailing list. From there a board member can highlight names of those with whom he or she has a personal relationship. The board member’s name can be added to the CEO as a signatory on the letter, making the letter more personal. The more personal the letter, the higher the probability of a positive response.
Bring new names to the tableEach board member can bring a list of 10, 20 or more names of friends who need to be added to the mailing list. As in the suggestion above, the board member should be a signatory on letters to these friends. In addition, the letter can include a brief statement from the board member such as, “As a board member, I wanted friends like you to receive this special correspondence. Your gift would mean so much to those who come in our door, and to me personally. Thank you for reading!”
Let’s remember to . . . RespondBoard members are leaders and as such, special appeals—like that of the Year-End Letter—call for action by those who lead. By sending in a generous gift we provide encouragement to staff, and we have the joy of knowing that we are fully involved in our ministry just as we are asking others at this special time of year.
Takeaway Thought:In a ministry’s development plan, often it is the “little” items that get overlooked; yet those seemingly small things can make quite a difference over the long term. Board member participation in the Year-End Appeal is oft overlooked; participate in the three items above and your ministry will be well ahead of the curve.
Click here for more of this month's Advancement TLC!
The Board of Directors plays a key role in fundraising; many of its decisions have a direct impact on the overall development plan—and on the amount of funds raised.
Here are two decisions a board must consider if it wants to build a strong financial foundation for the ministry.
Many boards are reticent to hire this person, wondering whether this position is needed or a good investment. If we are looking long-term, this person is a great investment.
A quick note: This person is not simply an events planner. If we utilize our Director of Advancement as only a banquet planner or to work on other events, we are missing the big picture. This person builds relationships with our donors; getting out of the office to spend time with them, get to know them and create long-term connections with the organization. A good Director of Advancement understands that our donors are actually volunteers who give their time at work (and the funds they earn) to our organization to save lives.
The ability to raise funds is not innate. It is part craft, part science. Unless a board is blessed to be full of those who are professionals in this area, batting fundraising ideas around at a board meeting takes a lot of time and rarely yields fruit.
Investing in those who can come in to the organization, assess its needs and assist in crafting a plan for development is a wise decision. My heart breaks for those organizations that try idea after idea, thinking fundraising is about finding the next gimmick or hot idea.
Fundraising is a ministry that connects God's people to God's work. There are gifted Christians who understand this principle and make it their life's work to assist ministries in fulfilling their missions by teaching ways to create these connections. A wise board seeks out the help of these leaders in stewardship practices, who can transform events, design capital campaigns, and show ministries how to implement effective, long-term development plans that are God-honoring, faith-building and effective in laying a strong financial foundation for the ministry.
A board that is committed to making these two decisions will, over time, oversee an organization that is always on an upward trajectory.
Click here for more of this month's TLC.
by Jor-El Godsey, President
Best practices and powerful tools will only carry the effort so far... And maybe not as far as we'd think or want.
Even from the title of his book, "The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business," Patrick Lencioni tells it straight. Our best tips, tools, and techniques won't carry the day beyond the operational health of our organization.
Sounds too "touchy-feely"? Lencioni anticipates this objection, noting, "[M]any leaders struggle to embrace organizational health because they quietly believe they are too sophisticated, too busy, or too analytical to bother with it. In other words, they think it's beneath them." (Emphasis added)
Lencioni, well-known for best-selling leadership and management books such as "Five Dysfunctions of a Team," "Death by Meeting," and "The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive," pulls from each of these and others to reveal how a business or non-profit can learn to function in a healthy way.
Setting aside his customary "fable" format, Lencioni uses real-life examples to illustrate and emphasize the challenge and importance of working toward organizational health.
"Organizational health will one day surpass all other disciplines in business as the greatest opportunity for improvement and competitive advantage." Lencioni says.
If you're new to Lencioni, you might start with his "Five Dysfunctions of a Team" to ease into these weighty concepts. His books are neither long nor difficult to read, but offer powerful insights for any non-profit organization.
From Take Heart | Volume 2, Issue 11
As the season of Advent unfolds and the focus on the birth of our Savior sharpens, the reality of this Scripture, like a diamond held up to the light, reveals multiple facets.
Behold. Be aware. Observe. Consider. This is the first step for us. We must open our eyes to see what is already at hand. The busyness of our schedule, the volume o f our workload, the needs of the ministry all can conspire to crowd our vision and actually shrink our awareness of anything but the urgent. It may take a moment to step away from the inbox, set aside the volunteer schedule, wait to review the financials, and simply focus on what the Holy Spirit is doing.
The Kingdom of God is all that He is and all that He controls. Think about that for a moment. Where is He not King? To what places does His reign not extend? Perhaps there are regions of our hearts and issues that have yet to be yielded to His Lordship, but He is certainly present even there, just as He is present in our ministry and among His people.
Indeed, the Kingdom “is in your midst,” right where you are. Truly, the Kingdom of God is in the midst of your staff meeting and each shift of volunteers. The King is with you during your event planning and while you stare at the blank page that awaits your monthly appeal letter. The Holy Spirit is present when you see the red numbers on the financials. He knows your pain and your tears.
The kingdom of God is even there with you in a board meeting (whether or not every board member has read the reports in advance!). He often speaks through this group that is assembled for the care and concern of the work that He has inspired. Whether you’re the executive director, board chair, treasurer, counselor, or administrative assistant, He, and His kingdom, is in your midst.
“God how can I do this?!”
When leaders look at the numbers, we are tempted to ask, “God, how can I do this?!” God’s answer: “You can’t, but I will!”
God is far more than our intelligence, skill, and experience. When we place our faith and resources at the service of God’s will, all things are truly possible . . . in God’s own time and according to His own plan!
Jason Upton gives powerful testimony to how God’s blessings outstrip our imagination and fulfill our hopes in ways that are far beyond the decisions we make “by the numbers.”
Watch Jason’s testimony on Heartbeat’s FaceBook page, July 7, Jason Upton's Testimony (at The Ramp)By Peggy Hartshorn, Ph.D., Heartbeat International President
From On the LeaderBoard Volume 1, Issue 2
As Christians, we are all stewards of what truly belongs to the Master. As faithful stewards, we invest the Master’s “goods.” With the time, treasure, and talents that He has entrusted to us, we produce abundant goods for Him. Good stewards rely on skill, as in the effective use of accounting knowledge and management expertise.
As faithful stewards in pregnancy help ministries, we use caution in administering God’s goods. Even more so do we rely on grace. The blessing factor is God pouring His grace into our hearts when we respond to His will. Our response allows this grace to spill into our works.
Yes, caution is necessary. Yet, it’s easy to get carried away with statistics, numbers, and outcomes, losing sight of the heart and passion associated with the work of the organization. Board members (and staff) can get bogged down in this responsibility. Board meetings can become dry and heartless! Try to ensure that this isn’t the case, perhaps by assigning detailed evaluation work to a Board task force or committee.
Also, numbers don’t take into account the blessing factor. If you are part of the leadership team of a Christian ministry, one way you know if you are on the right track is by counting the blessings that the Lord is bestowing on your work. While this is most often not a category of the official reports, Boards and executive directors frequently talk about the blessings that have taken place recently, even miracles. We know that the small, often bungling efforts we make could never, in and of themselves, result in the effects which we see taking place in the ministry.
A client walks out of a peer-counseling session, seemingly bound for abortion, but calls back later to thank the center and share that she has decided to parent her baby. . .
An ultrasound machine picks up nothing but a pulsating dot on the screen (the heartbeat), but when the ultrasonographer reluctantly turns the screen toward the very abortion-minded client, she murmurs, “My baby. . .”
The staff and Board pray for office space and someone calls to ask if the organization would accept a donated building in the perfect location.
Your Board no doubt has such stories of blessings that let you know that you are doing something right. That something you are doing right is constantly turning to the Lord in prayer and relying on the Lord, the real Owner for whom we work as stewards, as our source of strength and wisdom.
Don’t let the world’s way of evaluating completely overshadow the blessing factor as a measure of what you are doing right!
by Peggy Hartshorn, Ph.D., President of Heartbeat International
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