Thursday, November 30, 2006

Treasure path basics

Nonprofit organizations thrive on the treasure of meeting deep human needs and being a great work place.

Every nonprofit begins when someone recognizes a basic, unmet human need and decides to create an organization to meet that need. In 1990 John Green launched Emmaus Ministries in Chicago. It began when John recognized that no one in Chicago was reaching out to male prostitutes and helping them to turn their lives around.

United Way has its roots in an organization that was launched in 1887 when a Denver priest, two ministers and a rabbi recognized the need for cooperative action to address their city’s welfare problems. That year they raised $21,700 for 22 agencies and in so doing launched a movement that serves communities across the USA.

Thriving nonprofits continually focus on transforming lives through meeting deep human needs and valuing the people who produce the golden egg. In contrast, a nonprofit that values the bottom line above all else is a nonprofit in decline.

Here are some of the key behaviors you’ll find in a thriving nonprofit:

  • Our board clearly defines our treasure--who we offer our golden egg to and what their transformed lives look like.
  • The right clients knock on our door in desperation and hope.
  • Staff members are free to develop best practices to produce the golden egg.
  • Board and staff operate from basic human values.
  • All who work together to produce the treasure-- clients, board, staff, donors, funders, suppliers, and partners--are honored.
  • Each person is treasured based on their unique qualities and needs.
The above treasure path behaviors produce results. Here are the types of results you will see in a thriving nonprofit on the treasure path:
  • Clients’ lives are transformed.
  • The board measures the effectiveness of the organization based on clients lives being transformed.
  • Everyone knows their job is important because it helps produce the treasure.
  • Everyone--that means clients, board, staff, donors, funders, suppliers, and partners--are recognized for good work.
  • The organization has a culture of honesty, respect, responsibility, and quality work.
  • Every staff person feels cared for by their supervisor or someone in the organization.

For further resources check out the Treasure Path books at this 7 Paths web resource.