A Fundraiser’s Journey – Deep Thinking

A Fundraiser’s Journey Kelly Updike

Kelly Updike for PCNRC

The great ladies at the Paul Clark Nonprofit Resource Center suggested a blog about entering a new nonprofit life cycle. Wow. Deep!

Wait, what?! Not exactly sure what they meant, so I Googled it.

Well, the first links that came up were about older leaders heading to retirement and how to handle that new life cycle. Oops, delete, delete! Don’t want to give anyone ideas.

Looked at many white papers about nonprofit life cycles. Frankly, kinda boring with a tinge of scary: Start-up, growth, maturity, decline, defunct.

Read sage advice about staying in the “sweet spot” between growth and maturity. Ah, to be the perpetual teenager. Hmmm. Need to rethink that one.

Due to my extremely competitive nature, I am quite concerned with the “decline” part of the life cycle. Seriously? No way. I am slightly comfortable with a plateau here and there but decline? Who can afford that? Who wants that? Who is satisfied with that?

We need a new nonprofit life cycle. How about: Start-up, Growth, Maturity, Reflection, More Growth, Evaluation, More Growth, et cetera, et cetera.

Do you take the time to think about where you are and where you want to go? Well, me, neither, not with the new air conditioning needing some sort of fix already and the signage not quite completed, that copier keeps beeping and where the heck is the IT lady today, jeepers!

Hey, let’s be trendsetters and make June our Deep Thinking time. What’s going on that’s cool? Keep doing that. What’s not working? X-nay it. What’s the competition doing? Steal those and do them better. And give equal time to not thinking about anything at all. Meet up with friends to debate and solve the world’s problems. Go to yoga or Turbo Kick. Raise your face to the sun. Rub the dog’s belly until his leg kicks. Sing in the car with the windows down. Then, seemingly out of the blue, that great idea to a nagging work problem will hit you: Solved.

Ha. You caught me. All this is really strategic planning, just without the drama. Enjoy.

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

Do you lead with intent?

Across America nonprofit boards get a grade of B-. Not bad in my opinion, but there is always room for improvement. BoardSource’s survey Leading with Intent: A National Index of Nonprofit Board Practices in 2015 revealed six key findings and the sector’s letter grade.

The key findings are:leading-with-intent-color

  1. Boards demonstrate room for improvement. The study found that boards are better at financial oversight and compliance. Where they can grow is strategy work and community outreach. (Not sure where to start on this, contact PCNRC and we can help you.)
  2. Board members need to speak out more. One of the 10 Basic Responsibilities of Nonprofit Boards is to enhance the organization’s public standing. It is crucial to engage in community outreach and advocacy.
  3. Board diversity is increasing but gaps persist. BoardSource research shows that boards are shrinking in size and thus recommend to build the board carefully. Increasing diversity (gender, age, profession, skill sets, etc.) will make your board stronger.
  4. Best-in-class boards pay attention to culture and dynamics. A strong leadership culture creates an effective and productive board.
  5. Board members need to embrace their roles as fundraisers. Unfortunately, “fundraising remains [to be] the [greatest] weakness of nonprofit board.” Don’t dismay – with knowledge comes power (and solutions). Boards can choose to seek training to help improve upon their fundraising skills. For example, the Barbara Burt Leadership Fund.
  6. Finding financial stability amid constant change requires strategic leadership. With demographic, economic, and political forces, our society and sector is always changing. Strong and strategic leadership is vital to continue successfully.

The 2016 Leading with Intent survey is now open. You can participate by clicking here.

Boost your Board Knowledge

Get on Board Logo Horizontal RGB-01




Get on Board is offering a second Board Boot Camp 2.0. In this workshop, attendees will learn more about the responsibilities of serving on a board. Specifically this program will go in depth on finance and strategy. Facilitators Mike Stone and Erin Whittle will lead participants in engaging programmatic and financial case studies.

You are invited to attend if you currently serve as a board member or have attended our first Board Boot Camp course.

Cheryl Taylor, President of Foellinger Foundation, will be joining us for this Board Boot Camp 2.0.

When: Saturday May 21, 2016
Time: 9:00am-1:00pm
Where: Main Library, Meeting Room B
Register HERE

Lunch will be provided by Jimmy John’s.

Cost for the workshop is $15 (check or cash). Due by Saturday May 21st.

Payable to Paul Clarke Nonprofit Resource Center. Drop off payment at the Paul Clarke Nonprofit Resource Center or mail to Paul Clarke Nonprofit Resource Center 900 Library Plaza, Fort Wayne, IN 46802.

New Get on Board Programs!

Do you want to take your board service to a new level? If so, we would like to share with you three new Get on Board programs. The programs are: Board Boot Camp 2.0, Governance by the Glass, and Governance Outside the Box. All of these new programs are to keep with our goal to train, connect, and support emerging leaders and the nonprofits they wish to serve.

Get on Board

Board Boot Camp 2.0

Board Boot Camp 2.0 is designed as a deeper dive into the thick of nonprofit governance. The session will begin with an overview of key governance principles, roles and responsibilities. From there, we will highlight two areas of growing significance for nonprofit boards: financial oversight and strategic thinking. The session will culminate in case studies that allow participants to apply the key governance concepts to real world settings.

Board Boot Camp is a prerequisite for the 2.0 course. Mike Stone, Impact Strategies, Inc. and Erin Whittle, Whittle Consulting, LLC will be presenting this workshop.

The first 2.0 class will be offered Saturday February 27, 2016 from 9 am to 1 pm – Allen County Public Library, Main in the Board Room. A second session will be offered later in the year. Register for Board Boot Camp 2.0 by clicking here. Cost is $15 and due by February 27th.

Governance by the Glass

Governance by the Glass is an early evening gathering for educational conversations with peers. Foellinger Foundation’s Stewardship Award Nominees, board members, emerging leaders, and nonprofit professionals will have the opportunity to connect and discuss governance topics in a social setting.

First Governance by the Glass is scheduled for March 8, 2016. RSVP information and more details will be available next month.

Governance Outside the Box

Governance Outside the Box is an interactive training session and networking evening event. Discuss a governance topic over dinner with your peers and stay for a scripted mock board meeting to highlight issues that arise in meetings and how to overcome those common subjects. The Get on Board Committee is partnering with YLNI, Arts United, Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne and Foellinger Stewardship Award Nominees.

Save the date for this event – April 12th at the Arts Lab Black Box Theater. RSVP information and more details will be available soon!

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 #13 – For Us, By Us Governance

Reflection on 2014 Board Leadership Forum, submitted by Donald Gage.

The conference was a great learning experience since I am new to the non-for-profit world. I learned a lot but it was not until I sat down in the Holmead room at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday October 9, 2014 that I realized I wasn’t alone.

GOB in Washington, D.C. at the Board Leadership Forum last autumn
GOB in Washington, D.C. at the Board Leadership Forum last autumn. Donald Gage is on the far right.

I went to this particular break out session thinking I was going to get the answer to a few questions I had been struggling with but in return I realized I was not the only one struggling with these questions such as:

  • Where are minorities when it comes to board service?
  • How does the conversation get started about diverse board service within the community?
  • How do I speak for the African-American community?
  • How do we recruit and engage minorities?

None of my questions were answered. Others in the room were asking the same questions.

Recruitment, engagement and sustainability of a diverse non-profit board and/or committee is a nationwide struggle. It reassured me that I was not alone.

Many minorities have walked away from board service for one reason or another. Individuals in the room discussed the importance of current minority board members mentoring potential members.

An individual in the room asked me how would he recruit me?

My answer to that gentleman is that most likely our paths would not have crossed.

I have lived in Fort Wayne for over ten years and it was not until I came across Get On Board two years ago that I had the opportunity to sit down with non-profit organizations to learn how I can make a difference in my community.

I found comfort in knowing that Get On Board is providing the opportunity for community members to receive training and access to local non-profit boards whose mission resonates with them.

Governance by design is not easy but well worth it.  Does your board reflect the community that you serve?