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
From On the LeaderBoard | Volume 1, Issue 1
Is leadership an art or a science? Is leadership the same in the business world as it is in a Christian ministry? Is there an essential difference in the way that a man leads vs. the way a woman leads? Can a person learn to be a leader or is it an innate gift or skill?
Leadership is a complex subject and there are many opinions about the questions above, as well as many other deep, almost philosophical questions that can be asked about this subject. As I think about leadership within a pregnancy help ministry (a center, clinic, maternity home, adoption agency, or any other Heartbeat affiliated organization), one thing I can say for sure, however, is this: even though one person may be seen by almost all as “the leader,” it is not a healthy situation when there is only ONE person in leadership. This may sound contradictory, but let me try to explain what I mean.
At Heartbeat, in our conversations, e-mails, and person visits to our affiliates, we have observed that often one person, most frequently the director or executive director (sometimes in larger organizations called the CEO or President), feels the entire burden of the organization’s success or failure. This person is often “called” to the position, sometimes is the founder of the organization but often not, is totally dedicated to the mission, is multi-skilled, works very hard, and is looked to by almost everyone else (both inside and outside the organization) as the key person. You might say, “Well, what’s wrong with this picture”?
If this one leader is, in fact, the only person exercising leadership within the organization, if everyone else is a follower, here are some of the consequences that we have seen occur:
Leadership, I believe, should be a shared function. A healthy organization should have a team of leaders working well together. This team is really the “horsepower” of the organization. One of my favorite sights, living as I do in the state of Ohio where we have the largest number of Amish people of any other state, is watching a team of horses, driven by a gifted Amish farmer, plowing the fields. It is a thing of beauty to see how the farmer, with slight movements of his hands on the reins, keeps these powerful beings working in unison. I’m sure it is not as easy as it seems. It takes a lot of learning and probably years of experience to steer such a team. If one horse is pulling too hard, he may be pulling all the other horses too! If one horse is not in step, the work is much harder, and there can even be injury.
Who are all the leaders within an organization? Well, that depends on how large the organization is and in what stage of development. But we can start with at least two in every organization: the executive director (ED) and the chairperson of the Board. Each has a sphere of authority in which to lead: the ED leads the staff and most of the volunteers; the Board chairperson leads the Board members and any other people who work with the Board (e.g. some Boards may work with consultants or have volunteers who work with the members on committees, etc.).
If the ED feels like he or she is also leading the Board, something is wrong. Sometimes the ED mistakenly thinks that leading the Board is his or her job (it is not), or the ED begins leading the Board because no one on the Board has “stepped up to the plate.” If the chairperson of the Board is leading the staff and the office volunteers, something is wrong (unless you are in the start-up phase or an all-volunteer organization with no paid staff). Sometimes if the chairperson of the Board is leading the staff, it means that the Board has no confidence in the ED, or the Board chairperson mistakenly thinks it is his or her job to lead the staff (it is not).
The most common reason for NOT having both a staff leader (the ED) and a Board leader (the Board chairperson) is that the Board members do not understand their role in the organization. They may mistakenly think that they are in an advisory role and that their job is to be cheerleaders behind the ED, or simply “prayer partners” for the ED and staff. They do not realize that there are LOTS of jobs that Board members should be doing and that they have a responsibility to govern the entire organization. These jobs and the govern responsibility are discussed thoroughly in Heartbeat’s Board manual called GOVERN Well™. Also, Heartbeat consultants are available to come to your organization and provide a specific training for your Board members and ED on Board responsibilities and jobs.
If Board members do not accept their responsibilities to truly govern, the entire organization can be in jeopardy. In fact, there is a state of organizational development called “Decline and Dissolution” and it is often caused by a failing Board. A Board often fails if and when a strong ED tries to lead both the staff and the Board, a feat that is humanly impossible to do well.
Let me share what a positive scenario looks like, when there is leadership at both the staff and Board levels. At Heartbeat international, I am the overall leader, although we have many other staff leaders as well. Carla Cole leads the staff in fulfilling our strategic plan as effectively and efficiently as possible. Jor-El Godsey leads the Ministry Services team, and within that team, Betty McDowell leads all the trainers and consultants who work with our affiliates. John Ensor leads the Mission Advancement team whose responsibility is communications and fundraising.
We have a very strong Board chairperson, John Cissel, who leads a Board of 12 members, leaders in their own right, some of whom lead specific functions on the Board (such as financial oversight).
John Cissel (the Board leader) and I (the staff leader), although not living in the same city, meet frequently by phone, sometimes touching base several times a week , by phone or e-mail, to keep each other updated on what is happening within our spheres of influence. I don’t try to do his job and he doesn’t try to do mine. John is always thinking of ways to engage our Board members and help them use their gifts and skills to advance Heartbeat.
Board members, in turn, often e-mail John or me (with copies to the other to keep both of us in the loop) with ideas or contacts that may help us or that relate to an issue or problem we are discussing at Board meetings. Our Board only meets in person twice each year, but three additional times by conference call. Yet, all Board members know each other well, know our staff, and are engaged in advancing Heartbeat and our mission. This is due to frequent communication between John, the Board leader and chairman, and Board members, and between John and me. John and I plan the Board meetings, and our annual two-day Board retreat, together. John conducts all the Board meetings and leads the Board retreat, but I have a central role in those meetings and in the retreat.
John frequently says to me, “The Board and I are here to support you and Heartbeat.” I feel and treasure that support and my partnership with John. I know that we are on the same team and are pulling together, a little bit like the two lead horses in that Amish farmer’s powerful team.
John always opens and closes every phone call meeting with me with prayer, so we are constantly calling on the Lord to bless our time together, and to bless each other in our roles as, for the present moment, the two key leaders of Heartbeat International.
It should not go without saying that the leaders whom I have described here are the human leaders of the ministry. But, of course, the power behind these human leaders should be the Lord. In fact, we are powerless to do good without Him. We should be on His plan, not just ask Him to bless ours. All the leaders within your organization must first and foremost be close to the Lord, listen to Him, obey Him, and let His light shine through them to others. You do not want a leader in place who is not in this kind of relationship with the Lord.
In work like ours that is, at its root, the struggle between good and evil, between light and darkness, the Devil will be working overtime to bring disunity and, even more so, chaos into our organizations. He loves to see us destroying everything good through our own sinfulness – through rivalry, jealousy, power plays, anger, impatience, control, competition – especially between and among the leaders of the ministry. If we are wounding or destroying each other, we make the Devil’s job easy – our ministries collapse from the inside out. Guard against this with all your might and seek God’s protection and grace to carry out your leadership role in building His kingdom (not yours!).
Every Board has to have a secretary. Handwriting tests are not the right analysis for a good secretary. Unless, perhaps, if someone’s handwriting is so illegible even they cannot read it.
The secretary’s primary duty is to serve the Board in fulfilling its key responsibilities as determined by the state where your organization is incorporated. The basic functions of the secretary are relatively straightforward. The secretary records (or at least reviews) Board minutes, provides notices of meetings of the Board and/or of a committee when notice is needed and, probably most importantly, ensures the safety and accuracy of all Board records.
Yes, you read that right. It is the secretary, not the executive director, who is responsible to make sure the documents of the Board are kept safely and accurately. This includes any founding documents, (such as incorporation papers), bylaws, Board minutes, financial records (especially any filed with the government), official communications, and other Board records.
Generally such records are maintained at the office of the non-profit and the key executive is tasked with taking care of how and where records are stored. Such records should be accessible by the secretary and care should be taken to keep clean, hard copies and/or clearly versioned soft (electronic) copies. Some simple steps regarding file names and dating can serve to avoid confusion.
The secretary should be present at every Board meeting to capture official minutes. If not, then a temporary “recording secretary” is appointed to handle the task. That temporary recording secretary may or may not be a current Board member. In fact, some Boards take the step to officially appoint a non-Board member to be a recording secretary and free the official secretary to participate in the conversation. (A third option is to electronically record the entire meeting allowing minutes to be created even after the meeting.)
The secretary, by the charge to keep accurate records, is also the arbiter of Board member terms of service and proper standing of Board members (for voting). Since the secretary is the keeper of the minutes, he or she should catalog Board member information (names, elected terms of office, contact information, official start dates, etc.) for use by the Board. This responsibility can be designated to another Board member or officer (like the vice chair) but otherwise resides with the secretary.
It is common, especially in smaller organizations, for the office of secretary and treasurer to be a combined function. This may work for a very new and very small organization, but the complexity of the finances and the requirements of good record keeping can quickly overwhelm all but the most capable person unless that person has lots of available time. It is wise to split these two responsibilities between two distinct officers with the separate functions fulfilled by different individuals.
The secretary should always be mindful that he or she will turn all records, some day (and the records of prior secretaries), over to the next secretary. This knowledge should guide the secretary in organizing the key documents clearly so that the next secretary (and in fact current Board members) can reference the board records effectively.
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