Hard to believe that it is almost back-to-school time, where did the summer go? Hope you are committed to, and mindful of, making the most of the last few weeks. One of the things I hear from nonprofit leaders is that they have so little time to think or to read (here’s an interesting post from Scott Eblin on the topic of thinking time) so I’ve summed up a few articles for you here.
Nonprofit Talent published this article, which continued our recent theme, Car & Driver: How Leadership, Business Models, Vision, and Strategy work together to Power a Nonprofit. In it I make the point that agile leadership, strategic vision/planning, and the business model are all essential components for a nonprofit to be strong and sustainable. Here are some recent relevant articles about Strategy and Leadership Development.
The Only Viable Strategy Is Adaptation - HBR – In this article the author contends that in an age of disruption the only viable strategy is to adapt your organization. He says, “I’ve previously defined strategy as a coherent and substantiated logic for making one set of choices rather than another,” He argues for an approach to strategy in which “we’re not trying to “get it right” as much as we are trying to become less wrong over time…That requires a more adaptive approach, but also substantive differences in how we operate—less hierarchical, more agile, and more sensitive to changes in the marketplace. It also compels us to make important changes to our business systems that enable us to integrate prediction and planning into normal operations. It’s no longer possible to separate strategy work from everyday activities…”
NONPROFIT LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT
Skills Leaders Need At All Levels Are Similar, But Key Differences Exist
Readers of this blog and our newsletter know that I have put forth a set of competencies and skills that I believe are needed for nonprofit leaders at the top. But sometimes I work with organizations seeking to develop managers and leaders at all levels. We often begin by creating a matrix of all levels and the competencies/skills that are required for the level. In this article, The Skills Leaders Need at Every Level, Zenger and Folkman take a similar approach. In a large survey they found that the skills required of someone in a supervisory position were (in ranked order from most needed):
The authors point out that as you go up the levels there are few, but key, changes to the top 7 competencies, “With middle managers, problem solving moves ahead of everything else. Then for senior management, communicating powerfully and prolifically moves to the number two spot. Only for top executives does a new competency enter the mix, as the ability to develop a strategic perspective (which had been moving steadily up the lower ranks) moves into the number five position.”
I would say that in my research and experience with leadership development the same skills hold true for nonprofits as well businesses - with a few twists such as: “Builds relationships” and “Communicates powerfully and prolifically“ in a nonprofit senior leader applies to work with Boards as well as staff and external stakeholders.
Nonprofit Management Education Needs Some Changes
In this article from the Nonprofit Quarterly, Thoughts on the Relevance of Nonprofit Management Curricula, the author interviews nine key figures (including one familiar to the Pittsburgh community) and concludes that significant changes are needed to the current state of nonprofit management education, at least in its attention to a rapidly changing context. He identifies and expands on 5 key ideas of what really needs to be taught and developed in nonprofit leaders:
Kate and I are delighted at how 1-4 so closely follow the remarks we made at our recent workshop and those made by our panelists.
But Where is the Support for Nonprofit Leadership Development?
In an opinion piece this week in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Ira Hirschfield, president of the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund makes a case for more foundations to fund Nonprofit Leadership Development. In the article, Nonprofit Leadership Development Is a Vital Ingredient for Social Change, Hirschfied points out that according to a recent study spending on training and leadership development by U.S. companies grew by 15 percent in 2013, to more than $70-billion. He then goes on to say that “While business is investing in its people with renewed vigor, the nonprofit world continues to lag in making such investments. The Foundation Center recently reported that foundation support for leadership development was less than 1 percent of overall giving from 1992 to 2011. That’s not nearly enough.”
Hirschfield makes the case that, “If we agree that strong leadership is crucial to the success of the nonprofits we support, what is keeping us from maximizing the impact of our funding by investing more in the skills and capabilities of people who lead organizations, including staff and board members?” He identifies several foundations that are strong supporters of nonprofit leadership development and that they share certain attributes and beliefs, “Chief among these is that leadership support is multiyear and is tailored to each organization’s priorities and needs; in other words, this is not about a foundation coming in and telling grantees what to do. Nor is it simply about sending executive directors to one-time training sessions. Rather, it is about helping organizations identify and secure the leadership support they need at all levels so they can reach their broader goals.”
The author wraps up with, “Unless we can figure out what is behind the nonprofit world’s chronic under investment in leadership and turn things around, we will continue to overlook one of the most important ingredients of positive social change."
Let’s say that your nonprofit organization is a car, and your business model as Kate describes it in her article below is its engine, and it is fueled by your staff and $$, and its drivers are the Executive Staff and Board.
We’d like you to consider these questions:
Read Kate's article below to learn more about how your Business Model is analogous to the things you find under the hood of your car - parts that must work together in order for the car to go forward.
Does Your Engine Work? Adapting Your Business Model to a Changing Reality
Let’s start with: What is a business model? In the nonprofit sector a successful Business Model results in delivering high-quality programs and services that meet mission. For many of the nonprofits we work with, their business model is at the core of the issues they need to address in order to remain financially stable to carry out their mission. A few examples:
Sound familiar? These examples illustrate that a nonprofit’s business model encompasses its financial picture - money in, money out, and what assets are needed to ensure financial stability and consistent mission delivery. However, a common misconception is that a business model is solely about dollars and cents, and can be easily read on financial reports. Rather, the business model is the design for how an organization creates and delivers value to its clients/community in a sustainable way.
Your financial picture is not your Business Model; rather, it is THE RESULT of the business model. Revenues, expenses, and assets don’t exist in a vacuum. Each of those dollars that go in and out are connected to the strategies, processes and activities that happen within a nonprofit that lead to successful mission delivery. And those strategies, processes and activities are impacted by numerous factors, some of which are in your direct control, and some of which are not. READ THE REST OF THE ARTICLE HERE
Life got a little hectic and it has been a while since I have posted. There are many great resources I meant to share with you - so here is a mixed Spring Bouquet of ideas and articles. My next post will be the promised, “How to Engage and Develop the Board You Have” the follow up to my last blog on “Recruiting Board Members.”
Linked In Endorsements and Advice
I love LinkedIn. I was one of the very first early adopters and have found it to be a valuable networking, recruiting and information-sharing tool. Lest you think that I am social media butterfly, you need to know that I just joined Facebook last year with a Business Page, and I do not tweet, pin or poke. I am also proud to say that of my almost 600 contacts, I have met, been referred to, or have a good reason to accept the invitation for most of them. I admit there are a few strangers who I agreed to connect to because they are obviously part of my network, or because I feel like it the right thing to do (e.g. The young, just starting out person who is looking for a nonprofit career). But I have a few pet peeves that I must express and some advice to pass along.
The first is the invitation to connect that comes to me from someone I don’t know that includes only the standard LinkedIn phrase “I’d like to add you to my professional network.” This forces me to wrack my memory if I have met them in one of my past jobs, search to see who we know in common, look for some connection to nonprofits that are the majority of my clients, or guess at their true motivation for wanting to link to me (candidly, financial planners and salespeople, please know that I assume the worst). My advice? If you want me to accept your invitation, tell me why – and please know that I am one of the people on LinkedIn who is selective about exposing my network to strangers so the reason must be honest and compelling.
The other, and newer, pet peeve is the inappropriate use of endorsements. As someone who was initially happy with how easy it was to endorse those people I felt deserved it, I now consider it one of the most poorly thought out ideas of a company who has rarely made bad decisions. Now I get questions all the times from friends about endorsement etiquette. The biggest question, “if someone endorses me do I have to endorse them back?” (The answer IMHO is absolutely not). Here is an article that describes the problem and predicts how the overuse of endorsements has devalued them: Why LinkedIn Endorsements Will Vanish. And here is an article that provides advice on how to manage and give endorsements: How To Make The Most Of LinkedIn Endorsements.
Criticism, Praise, and Performance
While conducting management training and coaching I often find myself responding to questions about how to handle employee feedback with, “it depends.” It seems like such an unhelpful answer, but it really does depend. For instance giving constructive critical feedback depends on the situation, the employee’s style, whether this is the first time the behavior has happened, the impact of the problem, and/or the employee’s willingness to accept criticism. Here are three recent articles that all offer different perspectives on criticism and praise.
In the The Ideal Praise-to-Criticism Ratio we learn that we need to use both positive feedback to let people know when they're doing well, and offer constructive comments to help them when they're off track if we want to improve performance But even more interesting is that there is an ideal ration of praise to criticism:
“The factor that made the greatest difference between the most and least successful teams, Heaphy and Losada found, was the ratio of positive comments ("I agree with that," for instance, or "That's a terrific idea") to negative comments ("I don't agree with you" "We shouldn't even consider doing that") that the participants made to one another. (Negative comments, we should point out, could go as far as sarcastic or disparaging remarks.) The average ratio for the highest-performing teams was 5.6 (that is, nearly six positive comments for every negative one). The medium-performance teams averaged 1.9 (almost twice as many positive comments than negative ones.) But the average for the low-performing teams, at 0.36 to 1, was almost three negative comments for every positive one.”
The Delicate Art of Giving Feedback starts with this idea, “To be an effective manager, you need to be skilled at giving out both praise and criticism. While praise is easy to give, it is far more challenging and unpleasant to criticize your employees. Yet the practice of management requires you to occasionally show employees where they need to improve. Thus, it is vital for managers to learn how and when to give negative feedback.” Then the Author warns that criticism should always be given in private, preferably beginning with the phrase, ‘I’d like to give you some feedback.”
The reverse of this argument is made in How Criticizing in Private Undermines Your Team. The author suggests that in a team setting limiting criticism to private conversation undermines accountability.
“Is your leadership team a real team — one in which members are interdependent with each other for meeting team goals? If so, they should also be accountable to each other for working together to achieve those goals,including how they rely on, work with, and make decisions together. Yet when you "criticize in private" for behavior that occurred in a team meeting or affects the team, you undermine team members' accountability to each other. You send the message that team members are accountable only to you, not to the team. You also send the entire team the message that they don't need to hold each other accountable — you'll do it for them. In short, you shift accountability from the team to you.”
All 3 articles make compelling arguments, so I guess when it comes to criticism… it depends.
Adam Grant’s Research on Giving describes a way to increase employee productivity, increase your Board’s ability to fundraise, and can help you get ahead in your career.
I am someone who believes is karma, paying-it-forward, that the best way to get business is to first do good work, and that refusing to meet with a job-seeker will bring bad luck resulting in some future career catastrophe. I also believe that when meeting with people or networking, I am more successful in the long run, if I focus on help them versus how they can help me.
So, I accept the request to meet with job seekers, even if it means I have to use precious client development time to do it. In this great (but really long) New York Times article: Is Giving the Secret to Getting Ahead? I learned research shows that I am right to do so. I’m also reminded why employees are motivated by work that has a meaningful, positive impact on others. These employees are not just happier than those who don't see their jobs as impactful; they are vastly more productive, too. Here is a shorter article on that topic from the same author: The Open Secret To Motivating Employees.
Of interest to my nonprofit readers who frequently ask how to better motivate their Boards and Staff to do more fundraising, consider this research from the same author: Thinking About Giving, Not Receiving, Motivates People to Help Others. Even better listen to this podcast from Stanford’s Center Social for Innovation: Philanthropy and Fundraisers' Motivation that allows Grant to describe his research.
Do you have a question on leadership, management, teams or any aspect of Nonprofit Management? Send it to me and I promise I’ll answer it to the best of my ability.
Today I completed a survey for the Nonprofit Quarterly about what upcoming topics they should cover in their publication for nonprofits. One question that gave me pause was something like, “what trends are you seeing in nonprofits that worry you?” Not wanting to point out the obvious (dwindling revenue and leadership burnout), I answered, “It is increasingly difficult for small and mid-sized community nonprofits to recruit and retain committed and qualified Board members.” Then it hit me – I know something about this that might be useful to nonprofits. 10 years ago, I was training recruiters and writing about creative ways to recruit hard-to-fill positions for companies big and small. First as head of Staffing and Employment at PNC, then as an owner of a staffing and training company, and (when I absolutely had to) as part of the search team at Dewey & Kaye, I’ve spent 10 of the last 15 years dealing with some aspect of what is now called “Talent Acquisition.”
So I thought about the executive recruiting techniques I have used and that could be applied to the recruitment of Board Members and voilà…
1. I tell clients that my entire 25 years of knowledge and advice about Human Resources can be summed up by the phrase “Hire Slowly, Fire Quickly.” Let’s focus on the “hire slowly” - no matter how desperate you are to fill a chair with a breathing body; never, ever, ever take the only candidate available or the best of a mediocre group. You will always pay the price. For a nonprofit Board that price could be a member who doesn’t show up at meetings, or that you have to work around until their term expires. Unless you have cultivated a pipeline of candidates in advance, it takes on average 5-6 months to fill an Executive position. Why should you expect that a Board position would take less time? Start Now.
2. Recruiting always starts with gaining clarity about what you are looking for in a hire. You can’t write a job posting (remember when they were called “want ads”?) without thinking about what qualifications you need. It is the same for Boards. What skills, competencies, and characteristics are you looking for? What demographics will you target? I just helped a small board, using what is now a common tool called a Board Matrix, and we agreed that we needed people with finance, legal, and fundraising skills to round out the existing Board. We also wanted people under 40 since we had none of those on the Board (not unusual in this region). Other considerations included someone who lived in the zip codes the organization served and who had connections to high schools which is the target of the services the organization provides. This exercise allowed us to be very clear about the types of people we would target.
3. Once you understand your target demographic and needed skills, the next question is, “So where do these types of people hang out or work?” In my sample case above, we started by looking at all the law firms and accounting firms in the target zip codes. We looked at the local high schools for teachers and guidance counselors. We looked at the bigger businesses in the area that employed people with these skills. If not geographically limited, we could try the County Bar Association, the Association of CPAs, or the alumni of local Business Schools – all of them have publications and many have online or social media hubs where you might be able to place a tasteful posting.
4. What’s the sales hook? Every good recruiter knows that just posting a job ad won’t get you much (they call that technique “post and pray”). Instead you need to focus on the key benefit or motivator for the job that will attract the attention of the best candidates. Look at how Todd Owens writes the headlines or tweets for the jobs he is recruiting for in NonprofiTalent. Not “Executive Assistant needed for the Council on Social Work” but instead he leads with “Without social workers we might not have a nonprofit sector.” What’s the hook for your Board member job? Practically speaking, while some people will take on a Board position because they believe in your mission, there are many great people who don’t know you exist, but are looking for a networking opportunity, to gain visibility in their town, or to develop their leadership skills. What if your headline was, “Build your leadership skills and your professional network while working to stop Domestic Violence in our community as a Board Member of ABC.” That’s far more effective than “Board Member needed for Domestic Violence Agency”. I’d be glad to argue with those of you who believe that “passion for the mission”is the price of entry, but this Blue Avocado article does it better in The Trouble with "Passion for the Mission.
5. Every Corporate Recruiter will admit that referrals from current employees are the single greatest sources of hiring (in many companies employee referrals make up 45% of new hires). The thinking is this: you won’t refer a poor candidate (loser) to your employer because it will reflect badly on you. And you will have to work with the person regularly to remind you of your judgement lapse. Companies also recognze that you, the employee, are the best advertisement for why this is a good place to work (you wouldn’t refer a friend to a place that you hated right?). These same assumptions can apply to recruiting Board members. Your current Board members, if they are engaged and happy in their Board role, will serve as the best spokesperson for the organization and its Board. And, hopefully, they won’t refer a poor board candidate because that will reflect badly on the referring member. Remember that to get good referrals from current members, Board members needs to know exactly what you are looking for and how best to sell the position.
6. Nonprofits have become adept at using social media and direct mail to ask for donations and to increase awareness. These same tools can be used to find potential Board candidates. A nonprofit where I have been a Board member used its annual appeal mailing to solicit Board members, volunteers, and/or donations. Consider using a member list to identify possible board recruits, or make an announcement at your annual event.
7. Here are 2 FREE places to place your newly written, motivating, and focused Board Job Posting. The first is particularly helpful for those Boards located in PA and OH – with a heavy emphasis on western PA. Nonprofitalent, formerly Dewey & Kaye’s JobWatch, will list Board openings as well as nonprofit Job openings. Their Board posting is a new service and IMHO not yet as widely used as it should be – did I mention FREE? Read the other Board postings for ideas on how to write a catchy posting. Other cities may have similar services, often run through a university that has a Board Matching program. Nationally Bridgespan offers a board posting service for a small fee.
The other little known service is through LinkedIn. If you aren’t signed up for LinkedIn do it today. For the few who are not familiar with this social media, LinkedIn is the professional (work) version of Facebook and is an excellent way to build your network. It has also become the number 2 (after referrals) way for recruiters to find talent. LinkedIn has just recently passed Monster as the go to source for finding job candidates. To get more information about LinkedIn’s service for nonprofits seeking board members go to LinkedIn Board Member Connect. P.S. While you are out on LinkedIn, connect with me and I’d be happy to refer your Board Posting to my growing network.
I'll address keeping and engaging Board members in a future post. If you find any value in these suggestions or have a success story because of one of them, or have a recruiting tip you want to share, please contact me or post a comment below. Happy Hunting.
In this last post of the year we gather up some great resources to help you and your organization forge goals and plans for the new year. We wish you all a peaceful and warm holiday season and we look forward to working with you in 2013.
Growing New Types of Teams
In this article, and new book, on Teaming in the 21st Century, the author makes several interesting points about teams and accountability. The nature of teams and teamwork in changing and requires a more fluid approach. “"We've seen fewer stable, well-designed, well-composed teams, simply because of the nature of the work, which is more uncertain and dynamic than before. As a means for getting the work done, we've got to focus on the interpersonal processes and dynamics that occur among people working together for shorter durations.". Because of this, “people have to get good at teaming"—reaching out, getting up to speed, establishing quickly who they are and what they bring, and trying to make progress without a blueprint. The skill set involves interpersonal awareness, skillful inquiry, and an ability to teach others what you know.”
Leaders of team must make sure that people involved in collaboration understand the importance of interdependency and communication. Leaders must also be careful not to penalize the well-intentioned failure of the group. However, accountability must be present for the team to perform, “But not coming down hard doesn't mean coming down soft. "Psychological safety is not about being nice; it's not about letting people off easy and being comfortable. It's about the courage to be direct and holding high expectations of each other, understanding that uncertainty and risk are part of the work, as is the occasional failure. A leader's challenge is to set a climate where psychological safety, accountability, and pressure to do the best possible work exist together.”
Growing Leaders and Managers
Today’s mailbox brought this great summation from the American Management Association of how we move through the roles of Doer, Manager, and Leader in our Career (and sometimes by the hour). I think not recognizing these changing roles gets us in the most trouble. I’d suggest you read the article, but here are a few highlights:
Doers are the PRODUCERS of work. Managers create a positive ENVIRONMENT. Managers exist in a political, competitive universe that is concerned with relationships as much as the work. Leaders invent the FUTURE. Leaders often find themselves alone, going out ahead of the crowd to see what’s coming, to greet the new. Doers coordinate. Managers collaborate. Leaders originate. Once you get the distinction between the three roles it is important to understand what’s required from each role.
“One: You need to know which cycle you’re in, for you can experience them all throughout your career. Two: All day long, in any one position, you may need to follow, then manage people and projects, and, more rarely, lead. One moment we dig in and work . . . the follower. The next, we direct and motivate .. . the manager. Sometimes we initiate and persuade . . . the leader. Three: No one is a leader all the time. Trying to spend all your time in the leader mode is not much better than missing it altogether. Leadership is not a full-time role for anyone—not even CEOs or presidents. A leader initiates and then propels change forward. Change has an expiration date. No one wants to live in such flux, and no one wants the burden of leading all the time; leaders are happy to revert to managing when they can. Though there are always overlapping duties, each cycle determines what others expect of you and how they rate you.”
While we are on the topic of Management, check out this article Lessons from a Reluctant Manager from Fortune. Where a 20-something provides some excellent lessons she’s learned, the hard way, about being a manager
A new study from the Center for Creative leadership, Emerging Leadership in Nonprofit Organizations: Myths, Meaning and Motivations, tackles a topic near and dear to me. “The demands of the nonprofit sector have not been matched by investment in leadership talent. Equipping people to lead through change and challenge has been largely overlooked. Nonprofits rarely have the structures or funding for providing development opportunities for employees. Long-established leaders often hold tightly to their roles, and most funders don't place a high priority on building a leadership pipeline.” Because of this, "The sector is beginning to see the implications of this neglect," says Karen Dyer, director of CCL's Education and Nonprofit sector. "We have a capacity gap that will require significant investments and new approaches to attract, keep and grow effective, creative nonprofit leaders." The study provides suggestions for leaders and funders on how to close the gap.
And from the Nonprofit Quarterly we get this article: Beyond Financial Oversight: Expanding the Board’s Role in the Pursuit of Sustainability. The article includes some key questions to help your board move from the role of oversight to dealing with your financial sustainability. This is a must read for Executive Directors, Board Chairs and all Board members.
Faith In Humanity
So much heartbreaking news in the last few weeks has left me sad and helpless; fearful that there is so little I can do to tackle such huge issues as gun control, mental illness, poverty, and social justice. And then I viewed this (warning get out your tissue box): 26 Moments That Restored Our Faith In Humanity This Year.
Peace to all of you.
I am excited to announce the next phase of Bonner Consulting’s growth with a renewed focus on serving the nonprofit community. Read more below about our formula for Nonprofit Sustainability, join me in welcoming Kate Sphar to the team, and learn about how together we plan to fill the void in the Nonprofit Consulting market left by the closing of Dewey & Kaye.
Leslie Bonner & Kate Sphar Collaborate to Provide Nonprofit Consulting Services
The landscape of consulting for nonprofits in our region is changing. As you may be aware, Dewey & Kaye (now ParenteBeard) will no longer be providing
consulting services as of the end of the year. We extend congratulations to Kate Dewey on her new role as President of the Forbes Funds.
We are pleased to announce that as veteran consultants, and DK alumni, we are joining forces to provide our Nonprofit Community with customer-centered services that grow and sustain individual organizations and the sector as whole.
We share skills in nonprofit planning and assessment and an understanding of the challenges faced by nonprofits of all sizes and in all sectors. Leslie’s experience in Nonprofit Organizational, Leadership and Board development is complemented by Kate’s strong knowledge of Nonprofit Sustainability (financial health, business planning and management, collaborations and alliances). Together we will bring a strategic perspective, an interdisciplinary approach, and a combined 40 years of experience working with over 300 nonprofit organizations. And, as needed, we will identify other highly qualified individuals with complementary expertise to add to our Nonprofit Consulting Team.
Nonprofit Sustainability and the Iron Triangle
We believe that in order for a nonprofit to be sustainable a balance must be struck between the organization's mission/programs, the human capacity or talent, and the financial assets that are available. As one aspect grows, or shrinks, so should the others. The graphic below illustrates this concept. Note the triangle is made of iron, not rubber. This would prevent what many nonprofits try to do – stretch their limited people and financial assets to meet expanding mission or programs. To do this stretching thing over the long term is not sustainable. It can produce the same result as overstretching rubber band – a complete and sometimes painful break.
* The Iron Triangle is adapted from the Nonprofit Finance Fund, Linking Mission and Money
Our Consulting Services to Grow and Sustain Nonprofits
Just as the Sustainability Triangle illustrates, our nonprofit services fall into three similar groupings. Our strategic plans and assessments also focus in these three areas.
Click here to learn more about the services we provide, our individual backgrounds, and here to view resources and tools. If you have an interest in learning more about our services, please contact us today. We appreciate your referrals as well as your feedback, suggestions, and support.
Leslie Bonner Kate Sphar
This post is a roundup of some recent articles that didn’t fit into any of my other themes. Hopefully there is a little something here for all of my diverse readers. I am grateful to you all for your readership and support this last year. Have a great Thanksgiving and stay tuned after the Holiday for some exciting news for Bonner Consulting.
Planning allows you to focus on strategic priorities but is the victim of...lack of planning
From Stop Procrastinating & Plan for 2013:“Sadly, as the executives of these companies try to navigate uncertain times, they will wonder the following: Why aren't we hitting our goals? Why aren't we all on the same page? Why can't our people execute without having to ask questions at every turn? Why aren't we more prepared? The answer is simple...procrastination…. It's very difficult to make the transition from working IN the business to working ON the business. But one thing is for sure. If you don't start prioritizing strategic planning you will forever be letting the business run you. The sooner you make your strategy and alignment a priority, the sooner you'll achieve goals effectively and create efficiencies that will free up time and resources in your company… Here are the first three steps. 1. Set a date for a 2-day planning retreat before the end of the year. 2. Hire a facilitator or a coach. 3. Engage your team.
Personal Success Depends on Your Ability to Sell
As someone who consistently claims to not be a great salesperson, I have to admit that no matter what your job or level is, the ability to sell your ideas is a on the top 5 list of personal success competencies. Thankfully, if using the definition of selling below – I’m not as bad as I say! From 8 Things Remarkably Successful People Do: “I once asked a number of business owners and CEOs to name the one skill they felt contributed the most to their success. Each said the ability to sell. Keep in mind selling isn't manipulating, pressuring, or cajoling. Selling is explaining the logic and benefits of a decision or position. Selling is convincing other people to work with you. Selling is overcoming objections and roadblocks. Selling is the foundation of business and personal success: knowing how to negotiate, to deal with "no," to maintain confidence and self-esteem in the face of rejection, to communicate effectively with a wide range of people, to build long-term relationships...”
Importance (and great example) of Nonprofit Storytelling
This weekend I was privileged to hear two very thoughtful Program Officers from a large local Foundation talk about how nonprofits can most effectively make a pitch and receive funding. They began by stating that nonprofits must clearly understand the foundations funding priorities, which is easily done with a visit to the foundation’s website. If the funding proposal is “clearly” within the funding priority then a compelling story is needed. (Big no-no is to make your mission or program "stretch" to fit). The Program Officers acknowledged that for many foundations the trend is to look at outcomes, impacts and measures first and story second. However, for the decision makers at this foundation the emphasis is first on a compelling story – which then must include some sense of current or anticipated outcomes. Similarly for most individual donors research suggests the compelling story is the key to increased donations.
We’ve heard before the importance of a good story. The story doesn’t have to be complex or highly produced but does require a good storyteller (another often overlooked personal success skill) and a clear narrative or storyline. Here is an amazing Nonprofit You Tube Video with a compelling “before and after”storyline: 100kHomesYear2.