…the board of directors and I devoted a year to listening to God and seeking His guidance as to the future vision for our organization. We had seasons during this pursuit that drained us, so we asked a friend and strategic partner to come and facilitate a board vision meeting. It was during this day that I heard from him one of the most profound statements I have ever heard on vision. Here it is… “The seeds of your future are found in what you have already been doing.” Futurist John Scharr affirms this as well reminding us that, “The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating.” We have already been creating our future! So we spent a half day reviewing what we have been doing over the past 18 years – made a list of these and our ‘vision’ popped out at us. It is a grounded vision – and has lots of traction. As a result our team is energized, committed and filled with meaning. Maybe it is time to ground your vision?The visioning process is draining and unpleasant when we get bogged down in concepts and semantics, but it is quite invigorating when we turn our attention to the best of our past to see the best of our future. Try it.
Dr. Carson Pue of Arrow Leadership International shares his thoughts in his latest To The Point e-newsletter:I am increasingly convinced that a key to crafting direction, for organizations as well as individuals, is to look into the past. With few (if any) exceptions what we will become at our best is rooted in things that have been true since our beginning. When I work with individuals on figuring out their best context it is invaluable to spend 45 minutes hearing stories from earlier in their life of things they enjoyed doing and felt they did well. Reflection on those things makes figuring out next steps much easier. The same is true for organizations.
Participants in our Mentoring Program were able to spend a couple hours last Tuesday with Dr. Carson Pue from Arrow Leadership International. It was a privilege to hear from someone who has done as much as anyone in the world to develop excellence among Christian leaders over the last decade. He talked with us about how to put together a personal leadership development plan and answered a pile of questions. (He also has an innovative technique for eating pancakes that you have to see to understand). Much thanks to Carson for his time and wisdom.
blogged about months ago. In our society the word is used to describe business arrangements, romantic relationships (same sex and straight), friendships, and numerous other aspects of human interaction with varying degrees of formality. In philanthropy it seems to indicate the relationship between donor and charity, but this can have so many different aspects. When we identify what we call Strategic Partners for Catalyst we intend that the relationship extend beyond the merely mechanical exchange of finances, but also incorporate something more involved. But it has been difficult to define what that involvement might be. Here’s a draft list of aspects that might become a part of a Strategic Partnership Agreement as we continue forward: 1. Site Visit by Catalyst staff or principals to field work of the organization. 2. Informal Consulting between organization’s leadership and Catalyst 3. Promotion of partner through Catalyst website, blog, newsletter, and other materials, as well as personal advocacy 4. Annual Leadership Event with other Catalyst contacts 5. Catalyst Bonus Awards applications available to reward superior performance by staff 6. Catalyst Mentoring Program made available for a small cohort of staff and/or volunteers at no cost 7. Board Consideration for Catalyst director or principals to join partner’s board of directors 8. Strive/CCCC/Catalyst board development teleseminars could be made available 9. Referrals through the developing Catalyst menu of leadership development opportunities 10. Volunteer Involvement by Catalyst at programs or events 11. Fund Raiser participation/promotion through Catalyst channels What could you add to the list? Where are the landmines?I’ve always been something of a jargon junkie. When I enter a new subculture I quickly seek to understand and adopt the particular language that marks one as a member. That has also been true in Philanthropy. The most difficult word to parse has been “Partner” as I
this article from Christianity Today. A few brief observations: -If Apple can be a religion, leadership can tend towards being a cult. -That women find leadership particularly difficult is the reason for existence for our friends at Next Level Leadership. -Servant Leadership certainly has become a relatively meaningless buzzword; but I still believe it can express the best of what makes Christian leadership special -I absolutely that we have diminished the meaning of leadership. With apologies to those who claim that “leadership is Influence” there is a necessary degree of intent and responsiveness from others before anyone should be called a leader -It is difficult to pick out the really useful stuff from among the heaps of resources available now. I don’t try to read everything but I am eager to hear recommendations from people I respect. -There is a cynical tone to this piece that I don’t much appreciate; as if those who invest themselves in leadership or in developing leaders are somehow abandoning the gospel and following after something “worldly” But, it is a useful article because it demands that we examine our attitudes; that is well worth the few minutes of reading and few more of reflection.Read
FreeFORM program for a jazz cafe in Niagara Falls. In addition to the always great entertainment from Mike Janzen, I had a chance to connect with several people I’ve met in the last several months through Catalyst. A highlight was seeing the workspace where 6 Canadian nonprofits were spending three days processing their strategies and developing their futures. My reason for being there was to announce that Catalyst has reached agreement to support the FreeFORM program with a scholarship fund to assist those groups who are unable to afford the tuition cost. The fund is administered by FreeFORM. We are very excited to see the outcomes of this extremely well developed new program.Last week I was pleased to be with the first cohort of nonprofit organizations participating in World Vision’s
Mark Petersen at Bridgeway I can let you know that the relatively intimate and immediate philanthropy that Kiva has pioneered has now been adopted by my favourite microfinance organization. Check this out, and opt in. Well done Opportunity!As the world of small scale loans to developing world entrepreneurs continues to seek increasingly effective ways to engage new donors and take advantage of the potential of the internet and the decentralized nature of a digital world there continue to be new possibilities opening up. Thanks to
Partners to End Child Poverty program and Scott Jones from Micah House reviewing some material from the LEAP workshop that Scott and I attended with Hugh a couple weeks ago. LEAP is an intensive process in developing project designs that is based on a large amount of research and preparation. It is a major undertaking to complete their model, but one that will result in as reliable a design as can ever be hoped for. 2. Read this article from Gordon MacDonald on the importance and value of intuition in leadership. He emphasizes the need for acting with conviction at times even when the apparent reality may conflict with your inner sensitivity. These represent a tension I feel in every leadership situation in which I find myself. When is it appropriate to invest significant time and effort in working through a carefully developed strategy and when should I take the risk of going with gut instinct? I like what MacDonald says about developing a stronger sense of intuition. I also like Hugh’s emphasis on doing proper diligence. I can think of times in my life when I regret not doing both. Effective leadership is always a matter of existing within the tensions of each situation and acting with courage in light of the obvious and subtle pressures and risks. Those that get it “right” most often are most effective. Whether the tensions are between more research/taking opportunity; respecting budget/acting in faith; pursuing the vision/caring for the people; or any of the other variations on the theme; ultimately leaders are often those who are willing to define the issue at hand and decide among the options with a willingness for responsibility. In the best of situations we are able to do our preparation deeply and then rely on intuition to determine which of the choices to pursue.Two contrasting episodes today: 1. Spent an enjoyable with Hugh Brewster of World Vision Canada’s
recommended a book on microfinance. After a really good meeting on Wednesday with Opportunity International – Canada I was sent this article that breaks the idea down into a pretty manageable chunk while also exploring the edges of the approach. Microfinance is going to be a key piece to our strategy.Last week I
Out of Poverty by Paul Polak, founder of International Development Enterprises. and A Billion Bootstraps by Phil Smith and Eric Thurman, who have had ties to Opportunity International. These two books, combined with the time we’ve spent getting to know Medical Ministry International, (and is anyone pushing Willie Hunter to write a book?) are giving us a vision for using our resources to bring lasting change to deeply poor communities. Watch for a major revision to our website very soon that will explain this further.Two books are strongly shaping our approach to our philanthropy as we enter our September funding cycle (draft proposals due August 15th):
another organization that also gathers clothing donations, and I rarely think to bring a bag of stuff there. It got me thinking about how our giving, even to causes we genuinely support, often needs a little prompting. I like having the little envelopes from our church in my drawer to remind me to give weekly. Simple nudges that get my attention briefly are quite appreciated; and a lot more effective than a fridge magnet or coaster that quickly blends into the landscape. It doesn’t feel intrusive to be encouraged quickly to do something I sincerely want to do; that’s why my laptop and iPhone buzz me when I need to prepare for my next meeting. I’m curious. What kinds of reminders for giving do you appreciate? What seems intrusive or causes the wrong kind of guilt? How do you remember to do the good you’ve decided to do? And, does anyone want me to come by and get some gently used clothing to take to my next board meeting to help me overcome my guilt?A telemarketing call made me feel guilty last night. About 8:20pm yesterday Kristen was finishing up bedtime with my sons and I was tidying up the kitchen when the phone rang. I grabbed it quick (don’t disturb bedtime) and was greeted by a friendly voice who identified herself as from the Cerebral Palsy foundation, calling to see if we had anything to donate for their next local pick up sometime next week. Like most of you, I am generally annoyed by telemarketing, but this was different. For one thing there was no pseudo-survey or other strategy to catch me off guard. The request was brief, specific, and right at the start of the call. The caller was bright and spoke clearly, and seemed sincere in asking for our help, but neither rushed or trying to engage me in unnecessary conversation. And I know that we have given to this cause before (which I believe is why we’re on their list). It was actually a pleasant experience and I said “yes” happily, confirmed our address, and hung up the phone. Then the guilt set in. Not because the caller made any effort to make me feel guilty, but because I suddenly remembered that I am a board member for