Recovering from a haiku snafu and a lifetime of lousy mission statements

I don’t recall what inspired me to sum up the board meeting in haiku verse, but the puzzled (okay, shocked) look on faces around the table left little doubt that doing so wasn’t a good idea. Needless to say, I’ve not attempted a repeat performance nor do I include haiku in my list of recommended […]

6 things you need to know about fundraising

“How can we get more people to support our organization? We’re working hard but not seeing the results we need.” The caller’s frustration was palpable –and familiar. Over the years, I’ve been asked variations of his question by countless CEOs and board members. Short on cash and time, ministry leaders are on the hunt for […]

Avoid the trap of “maybe gifts” and mission drift

I heard it again on my last trip out —  a proposal to expand an organization’s mission packaged as a development strategy. “By launching X, we’ll open the organization to a whole new group of donors,” the executive director said with more conviction than evidence. Never mind that the organization’s strategic plan included nary a […]

10 indications your organization is healthy and doing well

Similar to Leo Tolstoy’s families, healthy organizations are all alike. Or so I’ve noticed. Mission, scope, size, or sector don’t much matter. Nonprofits that are performing well share characteristics the ailing crowd lacks.

The very reason for fundraising as ministry

When looking for proof texts in support of their craft, fundraisers of faith know they can depend on the Apostle Paul. The Old Testament prophets, along with the Psalmist(s), are other mother lodes of useful passages. And of course there’s Jesus. He had a lot to say on the subjects of money, possessions, and our […]

It matters who’s on the mountain with you (part 2)

A few posts back I suggested that for fundraisers, who it is that’s on the mountain with you makes a world of difference. The annual climb to the top of giving pyramid is a grueling, lonely, and sometimes perilous trek. What a blessing to find a hiking companion willing to go the distance with you. […]

Peter Drucker, the future, and deja vu all over again

Now and then, I return to a book that was influential to my thinking in years past.  Although less revealing than journal entries, the highlighted sections, along with notes jotted in the margins, recall the issues dominating my thinking and my work at the time of the first reading. Frequently, there’s not much distance between […]

A five-step cure for boredom in the boardroom

If you ‘re the member of a ministry or other nonprofit board, chances are you know the frustration of a poorly run meeting. You’ve yawned through lengthy staff reports, incomprehensible financial updates, and endless rehashes of perennial crisis issues. But because you believe deeply in the mission of the organization you’ve been called to serve, […]

360 degrees of misery

A few posts back, I wrote about potential pitfalls in CEO evaluation, drawing upon advice I give to boards of theological schools. I stressed the importance of doing no harm – a caution that is reinforced in a recent issue of The Nonprofit Quarterly. Specifically, NQ takes on the ever popular, but potentially lethal 360° […]

Trading up to a new funding model

It’s been a long while since I’ve met a nonprofit leader – CEO, board member, development officer, take your choice – who’s completely satisfied with his or her organization’s funding model. Almost everyone agrees that the same-old, same-old isn’t cutting it. Some folks have even gone so far as plotting a course in a different […]