You Caught Me: A Fundraiser’s Journey

Kelly UpdikeKelly Updike for PCNRC

If you remember the June 2016 blog, I suggested that we make that our Deep Thinking Month. Did you do it? Well, did you at least do the not-thinking-about-anything-at-all part? I tried to do that last one but fell asleep, so I’ve had to pencil that time into July.

I confess that, during my Deep Thinking time in sunny-stormy June, it came to me that I need a lot of help. No, silly, I’m fine, not that kind of help. I mean the kind where I let go a little bit and allow, perhaps even assist, others in doing their jobs.

My organization is ready to create a new strategic plan. I have lots of thoughts on this and was talking to a couple of consultants about it when I realized … hey, … what does the board really want to do? Um, did I ask? Shouldn’t the leaders lead? So, we regrouped and they are now foremost in the discussion on this while also giving equal time to the staff in determining that direction.

We also are planning our budget for the new fiscal year and it occurred to me that several top staffers need and deserve some new opportunities. They might tell you that I need to let them off their chain. Oops. So, as we look at budget, of which personnel expense is the biggest percentage of course, this is a great chance to be strategic about growth and maturation for the people who ARE the organization. Here’s a cool online tool on Successful Delegation:

Best of all, there are others who want to help us make our leaders better. The Foellinger Foundation offers three types of Capacity Building grants: Transform, Renew and Inspire. Information is at In addition, the Foellinger Foundation recently launched the Barbara Burt Leadership Fund for nonprofit board members. That information is at Questions about the fund can be directed to Christine Meek, Director of Programs at the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne.

You need a plan (July can be Deep Thinking Month, too), so take the time to pause, think, grow.

Interesting online resources are at:


The postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Embassy or the PCNRC.

Reflections on BLF14: Post #16 – Celebration and Communion

Lettie Haver, as the new Land Trust community outreach specialist will spread the word about ACRES.

This is the final Reflections on BLF14 post and it has been submitted  by Lettie Haver. The PCNRC is proud to say Lettie was employed by the Allen County Public Library at the time; was the co-chair of Get on Board and was one of the people instrumental in the success of the project and the extraordinary opportunity to showcase our community’s efforts in engaging emerging leaders at BoardSource Board Leadership Forum 2014.

As the then co-chair of the Get on Board committee, I feel the most significant takeaway from our conference travels came from our time together without an agenda, and in an altogether new environment.

Traveling half-way across the country brought us all out of our shell, into a space of relying on each others’ natural strengths, caring for each other, communicating through challenges, breaking bread together, discovering more about each other, and seeing the world through new eyes.

By the time I drove the Get on Board team home from the Indianapolis airport at 1:00 am on a Saturday morning, pop music blasting to keep me alert on the road, we had spent countless hours, days and nights, supporting each other and sharing new experiences in new settings.

We were shaken from our individual and group norms.

I learned to take myself a little less seriously, to ease up, if just a little, on the stress I placed on achieving Get on Board’s goals. My team showed me how to play, to laugh, and enjoy each others company.

Good leaders know that how well their people work together depends on celebrating wins, building teams and developing relationships. Great leaders invest energy in connecting deeply.

Our leaders understood that attending Board Leadership Forum would translate to many community gifts. Twenty years from now, I wonder how this group of people will move through our cities and towns. How will our connection play out?

As you know from reading this series, our shared experience of participating in Board Leadership Forum offered many practical, tangible skills and knowledge.

I posit that the greatest value is in the hearts of the six folks pictured here: we connected. You cannot ask for better in community work, in life. I am grateful.

Reflections on BLF14: Post #14 – Governance By Design

Reflection on 2014 Board Leadership Forum, is the first of two reviews submitted by Kent Castleman. The session on executive transition was also reviewed by Carrie Minnich.

Attending the Big Leadership Forum by BoardSource was a great experience for me as a non-profit executive director, founder, board member and Get on Board Committee Member.

We are very blessed to have the level of training and non-profit board governance we have in Fort Wayne and Allen County which has been led by the Foellinger Foundation, but supported and embraced by many other funders and supporters.

GOB in Washington, D.C. at the Board Leadership Forum last autumn.
GOB in Washington, D.C. at the Board Leadership Forum last autumn. Kent Castleman is on the far left.

The theme of the conference was Governance By Design which allowed for an overwhelming focus throughout the conference on being intentional about nonprofit engagement and intentional about your role as a board member/leader.

So many times people are asked to be on a board without doing their own homework to understand the culture and environment of that board or organization. The conference speakers focused on this point throughout the conference….. “Intentionality leads to success. “

Leadership Transition and Succession…

As the founder and Executive Director of the Cornerstone Youth Center serving youth in Southeast Allen County, I have many worries when it comes to the time I might move on past Cornerstone.So I spent several of my workshop sessions reviewing leadership transition and succession planning. Continue reading

Reflections on BLF14: Post #3 – Legal issues for Nonprofit Board members

Gems from the 2014 Board Leadership Forum, submitted by Laura Boyer.


GOB in DC at the 2014 Board Leadership Forum last autumn (Laura is third from the right)

The Get on Board committee is made up of a handful of talented people who are passionate about our community.

Legal issues for Nonprofit Board members – Two lawyers who specialized in assisting nonprofits with their business posed questions based on actual cases. The stories seemed so outlandish that they could not have possibly happened.

  • One executive director of a nonprofit who had years of international travel expenses had never saved a single expense reimbursement receipt. The board members of the organization were forced to pay special tax penalties that the IRS prohibits from being covered by insurance or paid by the organization.
  • Other worst case scenario examples that could have been prevented by proper board oversight:
    • prominent private school had full-time “volunteer” teachers who were given “gifts” of $20k per year with no withholding taxes taken out resulting in huge tax penalties;
    • organization didn’t pay its accountant’s bill, so accountant stopped work;
    • Then, organization didn’t file its tax returns for 3 years, automatically losing its 501(c)(3) status. All board members must educate themselves on their legal responsibilities.

Lack of professional expertise is not an excuse. All nonprofits should regularly consult with accountants and attorneys to review their business practices.

Submitted by Laura Boyer

One more gem from Laura’s BLF14 experience will post soon – watch for it! The topic will be:

Consensus-based Leadership – I have experience with collective decision making, so I was excited to hear more about it from consultants who train people in the process. They demonstrated the benefits of their process visually by lining us up in different formations that represented different forms of hierarchies.

Reflections on BLF14: Post #2 – Non-profit fraud

And other gems from the 2014 Board Leadership Forum, submitted by Laura Boyer.


GOB in DC at the 2014 Board Leadership Forum last autumn (Laura is third from the right)

The Get on Board committee is made up of a handful of talented people who are passionate about our community. 

Non-profit fraud  – A forensic accountant showed board members why it was necessary to review the organization’s finances.

He told the story of one chief technology officer who bilked 100s of thousands of dollars out of a nonprofit. The trusted officer created a fake company to bill for computer equipment the nonprofit never received.

The scheme was huge – if the nonprofit had all of the servers it had paid for, it would have had more server capacity than the Chicago division of Google.

Continue reading

Reflections on BLF14: Introduction to Nonprofit Debt

 And other gems from the 2014 Board Leadership Forum, submitted by Laura Boyer

GOB in Washington, D.C. at the Board Leadership Forum last autumn
GOB in Washington, D.C. at the Board Leadership Forum last autumn (Laura is third from the right)

The Get on Board* committee is made up of a handful of talented people who are passionate about our community.

At its core, the GOB* initiative encourages nonprofit board service among  young professionals and other untapped emerging leaders.

Through the hard work of our committee co-chairs, we recently had the honor of sharing our story nationally with other nonprofit leaders at the BoardSource 2014 Board Leadership Forum.

Here is my first post, and gems from some of my favorite sessions:

Continue reading