Over the years I've had the honor to observe numerous Executive Directors, Presidents, Principals, Senior Pastors, Vice Presidents of Advancement, and Major Gift Officers in action. I’ll admit it’s very inspiring to see men and women in these roles make bold, strategic decisions that advance their school, ministry, or local church. But I've also seen a number of poor decisions made, which makes me wonder how quickly leaders admit they've made a mistake.
Do you remember the old Ford Motor Company slogan that stated, “Quality is Job One?” Ford sold a lot of vehicles using that promise. They persuaded car buyers to buy THEIR product, under the belief that the manufacturer had a strong commitment to producing a quality product. But this raises these and other questions: “What does quality mean?" Or, “How will I know quality when I see it?”
The Beatles tune written in the 1960’s by Paul McCartney is catchy and profound! In the 3rd stanza it goes, “And when the night is cloudy, there is still a light that shines on me, Shine on until tomorrow, let it be.” Please allow me to shine a bit of light on your Advancement/Stewardship planning with this song as a backdrop.
If you are involved in non-profit ministry and/or fund-raising for long, you will probably hear the term “elevator pitch.” Are you familiar with it?
From Wikipedia, ”an elevator pitch, elevator speech, or elevator statement is a short summary used to quickly and simply define a person, profession, product, service, organization or event and its value proposition.” (Pincus, Aileen. "The Perfect (Elevator) Pitch".)
So how many leaders in your organization does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: Change - what do you mean, change?!
Change does not come easily for many. That’s true with individuals and it’s true in the leadership of many nonprofits. While too much change certainly can do major harm, not enough change can be equally damaging. We all learn from successes and failures. Over the years, I’ve encountered both and have learned some lessons. Allow me to share a few.
I recently read an article written by Jim Mathis and produced by the Christian Businessmen’s Committee. In his introduction, he stated:
When I was about 12 years old, my father took me to a hardware store to buy my first set of real tools. Among the first items I acquired were needle-nose pliers. They came with a lecture from my dad that he had already given me many times about the importance of having good tools, knowing how to use them, and taking care of them. He always concluded with the admonition, “Take care of your tools and they will take care of you."
Frustrated with not hitting your stride in your advancement work? Wondering how to kick-start an action plan that leads to increased productivity and results?
Asking some candid questions may be very helpful. But rather than ask the standard assessment tool questions that often appear on evaluations, consider asking some more penetrating questions.
While working with a client recently, I was asked to do a performance evaluation of each person on the advancement team. I pulled up each person’s position description and asked them to answer five key questions. Their responses were submitted in brief written form prior to our meeting and they became a great springboard for discussion and action plans.
I'm sure you've heard this expression, "There are no small dreams"… maybe in a leadership class… or maybe from a motivational speaker … or perhaps in a good article on business best practices? One of the more famous quotes in this vein reads, “Dream no small dreams for they have no power to move the hearts of men.” That was penned by German poet, Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe. I’m not sure exactly when he said it, but I believe it was in the late 1700’s.
The headline read "89 Breweries, 768 Beers, 146 Portable Toilets: The 2014 Winter Beer Festival by the Numbers" (Feb 22, MLive.com).
It caught my attention. Not that I had planned to attend but because of the numbers. There was specificity of what was going to be at this event. Digging into the article, more details were given:
Michael Jordan is arguably the greatest player in NBA history. His top accomplishments include: Rookie of the Year; Five-time NBA MVP; Six-time NBA champion; Six-time NBA Finals MVP; Ten-time All-NBA First Team; Nine time NBA All-Defensive First Team; Defensive Player of the Year; 14-time NBA All-Star; Three-time NBA All-Star MVP; 50th Anniversary All-Time Team and Ten scoring titles. When he retired from basketball, Jordan decided to chase his dream of becoming a professional baseball player. He had the athleticism, intelligence, and passion – but no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t hit a curveball.