Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Fundraising as a mangement function

While taking a break from revamping the Evergreen Leaders website, I check out other nonprofit bloggers. I recently discovered Rosetta Thurman's blog, Perspectives from the Pipeline.

Two of the principles mentioned in a post from fundraising school caught my attention:
  • Fundraising is essentially a management process.
  • Whoever spends money in your organization should be involved in raising money for it.
The revamped, interactive EGL website will be both a resource for nonprofit leaders and fundraisers. At first I saw them as two different foci but as I've worked on the site I see how much they fit together as Thurman pointed out.

I chuckled when I read "Whoever spends money..." It takes leaders and a system to apply that principle.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Frie green tomatoes and nonprofit leadership

A little after noon today I stopped at the park where the local farmers market does business. I talked to vendors and customers, taking notes for next week's column for our small town's weekly newspaper.

At the Coneflower Farm booth, there were red, yellow, and green tomatoes. I'm familiar with red and yellow varieties but who would want to buy green tomatoes in August? If it were late in the fall and the tomatoes were picked to prevent freezing., I could understand a customer might buy them in hopes that they would ripen. But August? I asked Dennis Zehr from Coneflower Farm about the green tomatoes.

"We sometimes get requests for green tomatoes from customers who want to make fried green tomatoes," he sad. "Usually it's later in the season but I had accidentally knocked these two loose from a vine. I brought them along in case someone wanted green tomatoes."

The best vendors at farmers markets get to know what customers want. It's a business with low margins and the best farmers grow the produce that the most of their customers want and also keep an eye out for what the least of their customers want too.

As someone with a disability who has been on the receiving end of nonprofit services and also spent a career in nonprofit leadership, I know that clients of nonprofits want both the most and the least treasures from a nonprofit.

Patients want the doctor to do a great job on their hip replacement surgery and a day later, when they turn on the call light, they want a personable nurse's aid to help them turn over in bed.

Who's more important? The doctor or the nurses' aid?

Almost everyone would say the doctor is the source of the greatest treasure (that new hip) and yet it's the nurse's aid who spends more time with the patient and is likely to know the patient loves fried green tomatoes.

A leader who wants his or her nonprofit to thrive must cultivate an organization that produces big treasures and little treasures.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

A road-tested vision

In the next few weeks this blog will migrate to a completely revamped Evergreen Leaders web site. Yesterday I began to work with a web designer on the new site.

Our original site was developed by an intern, Kevin Behrens. He did a great job given the fact that Evergreen Leaders was a vision that had not been road tested.

The vision has been road-tested. Now we're ready for a new site that can translate the road-tested version of EGL online.

As I reflect on the road-testing of my vision for EGL the last three years, I wonder what prompted me to launch a new nonprofit in my 50's. I've answered that a number of different ways. First, it's been a call from God. Second, it fit's my passions and talents. Third, I think nonprofits that serve low and moderate income people need our services to help their nonprofits thrive.

As I've founded EGL I realize I have a lot in common with entrepeneurs. Recently I read a column in Inc. Magazine that quotes The Theory of Economic Development published in 1911 by economist Joseph A. Schumpeter who says that entrepreneurs have:
  • "...the will to conquer: the impulse to fight, to prove oneself superior to others, to succeed for the sake, not of the fruits of success, but of success itself…There is the joy of creating, of getting things done, or simply of exercising one's energy and ingenuity."
I don't recognize within myself the impulse to fight or prove myself superior but I do recognize within myself "...the joy of creating, of getting things done, or simply of exercising one's energy and ingenuity."