by Kirk Walden, Advancment Specialist
Boards of Excellence
As board members, a primary responsibility is to monitor the budget and make sure the organization is wisely stewarding the funds entrusted to its care. At the end of the year, a reasonable goal is to finish with more funds in the bank than when we started, right?
Yet if a board isn't looking at what happens "after the budget," it is missing the bigger picture.
Beyond the budget, we must consider the amount of funds we are setting aside for next year, the next and the next. Ultimately, we must lay in place a financial foundation for future boards, staff members and most important, those who come in our doors as clients.
For forward-thinking organizations, an Endowment provides this foundation. Webster defines "endowment" as "a large amount of money that has been given to a school, hospital, etc., and that is used to pay for its creation and continuing support," but we can go further. For our non-profit organizations, an endowment is a fund we can draw upon (whether we use only the interest accrued or choose to withdraw a certain amount each year) to fund different aspects—or a large portion—of our ministries.
Every non-profit organization needs to at least carefully consider an endowment. Used wisely an endowment can be a perfect blend of faith and stewardship, two attributes that should complement each other.
Whether a ministry is launching an endowment or looking for ways to grow this fund, one starting point is the ministry budget. Placing a line item in the budget for the endowment reminds us each month that a portion of today's funds should go toward a better tomorrow.
Whether we start with $50 per month or $5,000, we are on our way to a brighter, more successful future for our ministry.
Click here for more of this month's Advancement Trends in the Life Community.
by Kirk Walden, Advancement Specialist
For pregnancy help ministry boards, it is easy to get consumed by major obstacles. When we face big challenges however, there is good news: Help is not far away.
Many sister organizations have likely walked in our particular shoes, and once faced the same challenges we are facing.
Tweet this! Often, major hurdles are overcome by capturing the counsel of those who have walked our road before.
Often, major hurdles are overcome by capturing the counsel of those who have walked our road before.
How do we find that help? Here are a few ideas:
Make ConnectionsAs a board, make it a priority to send representatives to conferences and make professional connections with other board members (Note: the 2015 Heartbeat International Conference is April 7-10 in St. Louis, MO). Getting to know other board members in other areas, or across a state, brings more wisdom to the table.
One to Follow, One to LeadMake it a point to create a close connection with another ministry geographically close by that you believe is on the same journey as yours, but has walked more steps on the path. Perhaps this organization is older; or has a larger client base and/or budget than your own. As questions come up, this ministry may be able to help with answers.
At the same time, offer assistance to a nearby ministry wanting to get to where you are. Be a sounding board.
As board chairmen reach out to each other in these ways, we all grow.
Check in with Your Affiliate NetworkWhether statewide or nationally, your affiliate network may have answers for you. Utilize its expertise and its connections to dozens, hundreds or thousands of ministries when you're "stuck." For instance, Heartbeat International fields questions daily from its more than 1900 affiliates around the world.
Stuck? Whether the issue be fundraising, staffing or a new initiative that doesn't seem to be getting off the ground, help is on the way. All a board needs to do is access the assistance and counsel already in place.
Click here for more of this month's Advancement Trends in the Life Community.
by Jay Hobbs, Communications and Marketing Director
"Julie" went through the usual rounds of interviews. With every phone call, background check, in-person visit, and interaction, it was clear God had shown the board of Anytown Pregnancy Resource Center their next executive director.
Though the first three years brought with them their typical bumps and bruises, by years four and five, Julie and the board had a smooth working relationship. The board trusted Julie with the day-to-day business of the organization, while she welcomed their leadership and support.
Preparations were in the works for an early summer banquet when "Shelly," the board chair, answered a phone call she never thought she'd have to take.
Julie was resigning, effective immediately. But those words had hardly reached her ears when the reason why cascaded down on her: Julie wasn't just resigning, she was being arrested.
As the days and weeks progressed, it became apparent that Julie had fallen into a pattern of using her Anytown PRC credit card for personal purchases, to the tune of $30,000 over more than a year's time.
The board, according to Shelly, had grown lax on holding Julie accountable for her spending, forgoing procedural structure in the name of trust and friendship.
"One thing still baffles me," Shelly, who has served on the board of directors for close to a decade, says. "When we hired Julie, her testimony and fervent desire to do God's will seemed very real.
"Each meeting began with a short devotion and prayer or around the table prayer time at which time most if not all, not only thanked and praised God, but asked for wisdom and guidance which is why I made the first statement. We trusted and had faith but didn't follow through on our responsibility of accountability."
In the wake of the jarring news, Shelly and the board scrambled to respond. The first orders of business were to postpone an upcoming fundraiser and break the news to volunteers in an impromptu meeting.
The following days were filled with an unfortunate list of to-dos, including notifying local ministers and supporters while, most painful of all, closing the doors to the center while a forensic audit took place and legal details were being sorted out.
It was during this time that Shelly and the board realized they had made another oversight in the years leading up to Julie's arrest. After its long-time legal advisor retired, the board had failed to replace him, leaving a painful gap at a time when legal advice and even representation were suddenly at a premium.
Now several months removed from the initial crisis, Shelly and the board have found a local pro-life attorney who not only provides Anytown PRC with the necessary counsel, but who has become an energetic partner in the ministry.
Meanwhile, Shelly has seen to it that board meetings moving forward take on a distinct, far more diligent tone, which will include reviewing each credit card statement and receipt as a group.
"We made a decision for the board to meet and take turns reading and discussing each policy and procedure, and the by-laws as well," Shelly says. "Reading and knowing plus understanding are very different. Also, we now have more than one person to have access to our tracking and reporting systems to increase accountability across our organization."
Moving forward, Shelly hopes the struggles her board, staff, volunteers, community members, and clients have had to endure serve as a clear cautionary lesson to other pregnancy help organizations.
"My advice is to put good policies and procedures in place, and then adhere to them," she says. "Have accountability in place. Empower multiple people to access the systems your organization uses for both donor tracking and accounting purposes."
The above is a true story with actual quotes from the involved chair of the board of directors. The names, organization name, and location have been changed to protect privacy.
by Ellen Foell, Legal Counsel
When I bought my last van, I paid attention to every dashboard light -- especially the one that said Maint Req'd.
I wasn't sure what in my precious van required maintenance, but if the little warning light was on, it drove me toward the overpriced dealer for inspection and fixing. I hated seeing that Maint Req'd light. The more annoying challenge was, I never knew whether the Maint Req'd light meant my engine was about to fall out or a fuse needed replacing.
After four or five times of paying attention (and money) and finding the required maintenance was something on the schedule for checking (not fixing), I started to get annoyed with the little light when it came on. Before long, I began to wait six months or so to have the dealer perform the "required maintenance." After all, the car was still running and seemed to be in great shape.
By the time my van had 197,800 miles on it, I stopped paying attention to the light altogether. That is, until, I finally pulled into the repair shop and my mechanic asked, "Have you been ignoring the Maint Req'd light?"
After I forked over the equivalent of a tuition payment for one semester at a small college, my lesson was learned: Don't ignore the Maint req'd light, even if things are humming along nicely.
You may not know exactly what needs fixing, but it's worth it to find out.
A Board Member's Maint Req'd
As a board member, you don't have the benefit of a dashboard that lights on your pregnancy help center bus. And probably, your center is humming along nicely.
But here's a free Maint req'd light for you: Pay attention to the little things that don't seem quite right. As a board member you have the duty to make sure the center not only appears to be humming along nicely, but that it actually is humming along legally.
The case we highlighted in this month's On the LeaderBoard is a real situation. Unfortunately, it's not an isolated case.
I just spoke with another executive director who described an employee's consistent violation of multiple policies, including transporting and interacting with clients outside of the center business, and off-premises. The in fractions themselves were all small incidences, but it's high time the director address the dashboard light.
It doesn't matter if an employee agrees or disagrees with a particular policy. The fact is, there is a policy limiting such interactions in place, and it was consistently violated. In both situations, the board was aware of the behavior but wanted to give the employee the benefit of the doubt. Both let the situation go on too long, and ended up with bigger issues than violation of a policy.
New Policy: Keep Your Policies
Every organization has policies. From time to time, your organization may have had a staff person or a volunteer continue to violate the same policy or procedure. It isn't necessarily a major incident. But consider: who is responsible to check the dashboard lights? Who has the ultimate legal authority and responsibility to respond to the dashboard lights?
A board's duty is first and foremost to the center -- not to the employees, not to the director, not to the volunteers, not even to the donors -- but to the center, as an organization.
At a minimum, directors and officers are required to act in good faith, with ordinary care in the best interests of the non-profit. That is a textbook definition of fiduciary care. Broken down, it means that the main legal responsibilities of a nonprofit board are what are often characterized as the duty of care, the duty of loyalty and the duty of obedience.
1. The Duty of care mandates that board members are expected to actively participate in organizational planning and decision-making and to make sound and informed judgments.
2. The Duty of loyalty requires that when acting on behalf of the organization, board members put the interests of the nonprofit before any personal or professional concerns and avoid potential conflicts of interest.
3. The Duty of obedience expects Board members to ensure that the organization complies with all applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations, and that it remains committed to its established mission. This duty requires both an internal and external view. As a Board member, you should consider to what the organization has committed itself.
Then you must also look to external regulations and laws.
(As a side note, notice how the Commitment of Care and Competence, to which all Heartbeat affiliates ascribe, mimics these requirements in its tenets.)
Moving Forward with Life's Lessons
Remembering that these duties are included under the general title of fiduciary duty, and that fiduciary duty is owed to the center, how did the Board members of Anytown PRC neglect their fiduciary duty? Or did they?
In the situation at hand, the executive director was allowed to repeatedly fail to validate expenses. Not for just one or two months, but over a period of several months.
There was most likely a financial policy and procedure in place in the organization's policy and procedure manual. Presumably, there was also a petty cash policy in place. There were most definitely financial reports that had to be presented by someone on staff at the board meetings.
Consider the following factors:
This situation took place over several months, longer than one fiscal period. Did the Board ever bring up the matter of the financial issues at the director's performance review? Were better financial procedures made part of the performance goals? Should they have been?
Once it became clear that the director was establishing a pattern of failing to turn in receipts on time, did the Board consider that the director was violating the conflict of interest policy as a director, whether the director was a voting member or not?
In this scenario, we should also consider how the Board rectified the situation. It was no doubt difficult and painful for the Board to communicate the situation to its donors, community partners, and partner churches. Nonetheless, we can see that the Board performed a difficult but necessary action, fulfilling its fiduciary duty.
So here's a question from my mechanic to you, "Have you been ignoring the Maint Req'd light?"
By Kirk Walden, Advancement Specialist
The Year-End Appeal Letter can be one of the most effective fundraising initiatives we have in our development plan.
A successful Year-End Appeal can bring us through a difficult year, launch the coming year on a positive note and perhaps most important, draw new supporters into the ministry.
And the Board of Directors can have a tremendous influence on the success of this endeavor. Here are some ways the board can assist:
Signatures matterEach board member should have a copy of the ministry’s mailing list. From there a board member can highlight names of those with whom he or she has a personal relationship. The board member’s name can be added to the CEO as a signatory on the letter, making the letter more personal. The more personal the letter, the higher the probability of a positive response.
Bring new names to the tableEach board member can bring a list of 10, 20 or more names of friends who need to be added to the mailing list. As in the suggestion above, the board member should be a signatory on letters to these friends. In addition, the letter can include a brief statement from the board member such as, “As a board member, I wanted friends like you to receive this special correspondence. Your gift would mean so much to those who come in our door, and to me personally. Thank you for reading!”
Let’s remember to . . . RespondBoard members are leaders and as such, special appeals—like that of the Year-End Letter—call for action by those who lead. By sending in a generous gift we provide encouragement to staff, and we have the joy of knowing that we are fully involved in our ministry just as we are asking others at this special time of year.
Takeaway Thought:In a ministry’s development plan, often it is the “little” items that get overlooked; yet those seemingly small things can make quite a difference over the long term. Board member participation in the Year-End Appeal is oft overlooked; participate in the three items above and your ministry will be well ahead of the curve.
Click here for more of this month's Advancement TLC!
The Board of Directors plays a key role in fundraising; many of its decisions have a direct impact on the overall development plan—and on the amount of funds raised.
Here are two decisions a board must consider if it wants to build a strong financial foundation for the ministry.
Many boards are reticent to hire this person, wondering whether this position is needed or a good investment. If we are looking long-term, this person is a great investment.
A quick note: This person is not simply an events planner. If we utilize our Director of Advancement as only a banquet planner or to work on other events, we are missing the big picture. This person builds relationships with our donors; getting out of the office to spend time with them, get to know them and create long-term connections with the organization. A good Director of Advancement understands that our donors are actually volunteers who give their time at work (and the funds they earn) to our organization to save lives.
The ability to raise funds is not innate. It is part craft, part science. Unless a board is blessed to be full of those who are professionals in this area, batting fundraising ideas around at a board meeting takes a lot of time and rarely yields fruit.
Investing in those who can come in to the organization, assess its needs and assist in crafting a plan for development is a wise decision. My heart breaks for those organizations that try idea after idea, thinking fundraising is about finding the next gimmick or hot idea.
Fundraising is a ministry that connects God's people to God's work. There are gifted Christians who understand this principle and make it their life's work to assist ministries in fulfilling their missions by teaching ways to create these connections. A wise board seeks out the help of these leaders in stewardship practices, who can transform events, design capital campaigns, and show ministries how to implement effective, long-term development plans that are God-honoring, faith-building and effective in laying a strong financial foundation for the ministry.
A board that is committed to making these two decisions will, over time, oversee an organization that is always on an upward trajectory.
Click here for more of this month's TLC.
by Jor-El Godsey, President
Best practices and powerful tools will only carry the effort so far... And maybe not as far as we'd think or want.
Even from the title of his book, "The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business," Patrick Lencioni tells it straight. Our best tips, tools, and techniques won't carry the day beyond the operational health of our organization.
Sounds too "touchy-feely"? Lencioni anticipates this objection, noting, "[M]any leaders struggle to embrace organizational health because they quietly believe they are too sophisticated, too busy, or too analytical to bother with it. In other words, they think it's beneath them." (Emphasis added)
Lencioni, well-known for best-selling leadership and management books such as "Five Dysfunctions of a Team," "Death by Meeting," and "The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive," pulls from each of these and others to reveal how a business or non-profit can learn to function in a healthy way.
Setting aside his customary "fable" format, Lencioni uses real-life examples to illustrate and emphasize the challenge and importance of working toward organizational health.
"Organizational health will one day surpass all other disciplines in business as the greatest opportunity for improvement and competitive advantage." Lencioni says.
If you're new to Lencioni, you might start with his "Five Dysfunctions of a Team" to ease into these weighty concepts. His books are neither long nor difficult to read, but offer powerful insights for any non-profit organization.
Every day, in every corner of the world, God is moving His people to launch new efforts on behalf of mothers and children at-risk for abortion, as well as efforts aimed at healing those affected by previous abortions and reaching communities with positive pro-life messages focusing on imago Dei and Sexual Integrity.
Heartbeat International is here to support front-line life-savers carry out the unique call of God with excellence in real-life settings and circumstances.
Click any of the below to start with the information you need.
Answering the call to reach, rescue, and renew men, women, and children--even entire communities--from the violence of abortion requires a team effort, with every life-saver pulling on the same rope.
Click one of the below to learn more about your unique calling... and what you can do to become best equipped on the front lines of the Pregnancy Help Movement.
From Take Heart | Volume 2, Issue 11
As the season of Advent unfolds and the focus on the birth of our Savior sharpens, the reality of this Scripture, like a diamond held up to the light, reveals multiple facets.
Behold. Be aware. Observe. Consider. This is the first step for us. We must open our eyes to see what is already at hand. The busyness of our schedule, the volume o f our workload, the needs of the ministry all can conspire to crowd our vision and actually shrink our awareness of anything but the urgent. It may take a moment to step away from the inbox, set aside the volunteer schedule, wait to review the financials, and simply focus on what the Holy Spirit is doing.
The Kingdom of God is all that He is and all that He controls. Think about that for a moment. Where is He not King? To what places does His reign not extend? Perhaps there are regions of our hearts and issues that have yet to be yielded to His Lordship, but He is certainly present even there, just as He is present in our ministry and among His people.
Indeed, the Kingdom “is in your midst,” right where you are. Truly, the Kingdom of God is in the midst of your staff meeting and each shift of volunteers. The King is with you during your event planning and while you stare at the blank page that awaits your monthly appeal letter. The Holy Spirit is present when you see the red numbers on the financials. He knows your pain and your tears.
The kingdom of God is even there with you in a board meeting (whether or not every board member has read the reports in advance!). He often speaks through this group that is assembled for the care and concern of the work that He has inspired. Whether you’re the executive director, board chair, treasurer, counselor, or administrative assistant, He, and His kingdom, is in your midst.
“God how can I do this?!”
When leaders look at the numbers, we are tempted to ask, “God, how can I do this?!” God’s answer: “You can’t, but I will!”
God is far more than our intelligence, skill, and experience. When we place our faith and resources at the service of God’s will, all things are truly possible . . . in God’s own time and according to His own plan!
Jason Upton gives powerful testimony to how God’s blessings outstrip our imagination and fulfill our hopes in ways that are far beyond the decisions we make “by the numbers.”
Watch Jason’s testimony on Heartbeat’s FaceBook page, July 7, Jason Upton's Testimony (at The Ramp)By Peggy Hartshorn, Ph.D., Heartbeat International President
From On the LeaderBoard Volume 1, Issue 2
As Christians, we are all stewards of what truly belongs to the Master. As faithful stewards, we invest the Master’s “goods.” With the time, treasure, and talents that He has entrusted to us, we produce abundant goods for Him. Good stewards rely on skill, as in the effective use of accounting knowledge and management expertise.
As faithful stewards in pregnancy help ministries, we use caution in administering God’s goods. Even more so do we rely on grace. The blessing factor is God pouring His grace into our hearts when we respond to His will. Our response allows this grace to spill into our works.
Yes, caution is necessary. Yet, it’s easy to get carried away with statistics, numbers, and outcomes, losing sight of the heart and passion associated with the work of the organization. Board members (and staff) can get bogged down in this responsibility. Board meetings can become dry and heartless! Try to ensure that this isn’t the case, perhaps by assigning detailed evaluation work to a Board task force or committee.
Also, numbers don’t take into account the blessing factor. If you are part of the leadership team of a Christian ministry, one way you know if you are on the right track is by counting the blessings that the Lord is bestowing on your work. While this is most often not a category of the official reports, Boards and executive directors frequently talk about the blessings that have taken place recently, even miracles. We know that the small, often bungling efforts we make could never, in and of themselves, result in the effects which we see taking place in the ministry.
A client walks out of a peer-counseling session, seemingly bound for abortion, but calls back later to thank the center and share that she has decided to parent her baby. . .
An ultrasound machine picks up nothing but a pulsating dot on the screen (the heartbeat), but when the ultrasonographer reluctantly turns the screen toward the very abortion-minded client, she murmurs, “My baby. . .”
The staff and Board pray for office space and someone calls to ask if the organization would accept a donated building in the perfect location.
Your Board no doubt has such stories of blessings that let you know that you are doing something right. That something you are doing right is constantly turning to the Lord in prayer and relying on the Lord, the real Owner for whom we work as stewards, as our source of strength and wisdom.
Don’t let the world’s way of evaluating completely overshadow the blessing factor as a measure of what you are doing right!
by Peggy Hartshorn, Ph.D., President of Heartbeat International
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