What’s wrong with this picture

Mismatched Socks Solidarity Day

(Photo credit: rikomatic)

At 5:05, why does this always happen at 5:05, I get called into a last minute meeting to assess a situation the Board President has presented the new ED. One of our therapists, a consultant, offered to do fundraising for a program, established in collaboration with another agency, that lost funding, and hence, her job. The fundraising consisted of writing letters to celebrities and athletes sympathetic to the issue. What did I think of it they wanted to know. And then proceeded to discuss who should write and sign letters. How much should we ask for.  And maybe we should discuss this at the board meeting.

What did I think? Forget that direct mail gets a 1-3% return at best. Forget that celebrities and athletes are constantly asked for handouts. Forget that I work part time and have no interest in including supervisor in my job description. Forget she wanted to be paid a higher hourly wage than I make.  What did I think? I think it is ridiculous.

First of all this was a collaborative program for which our partner is actively working to reestablish funding. How politically incorrect would it be to side step this agency under which we subcontracted but ask them to keep the referrals coming? It’s all for the greater good, so that makes it ok?

How politically incorrect is it for a consultant to propose a contractual work arrangement with the Board President bypassing the agency administration including the Executive Director, Director of Development, Program Director, and HR/Office Manager?

How politically incorrect is it for the board president to waste time with this half baked scheme  at the next board meeting? If the board is going to mull over every bit of minutia that flows through the organization, including administrative issues they have no business in, they will never focus on anything that really matters.

I think it is absolutely ridiculous on so many levels. But I didn’t say that. I didn’t say that because no one was listening. All they could think was someone who wants to help raise money and were blind to the rest.

My immediate recommendation was to talk to our partner agency, introduce the new ED, and get an update on where the program funding stands.  Sound, non committal. And log in to linkedin.


Deer in the Headlights

Deer in headlights

My interim month as executive director has come to an end. Some petty stuff to settle like mileage policy (okayed flexibility to googling exact mileage as opposed to the generic chart of approximate miles) and deferred bigger issues (impending removal of 4 poor performers in one program area) to new ED. Who has arrived! Very nice but a little deer in the headlights. Results on job prospects–looking elsewhere for a good fit and a place that can pay me full time, but no rush. Finishing video (which is killer makes me well up every time), details, and scripts on our upcoming breakfast fundraiser. Big push getting the board on board that fundraising is an important part of being on a board. That I am even having this conversation is astounding to me.  I don’t get it. What do people think is expected of them when joining a board?

It’s all about the story

I got the greatest feedback from a development director of another local non-profit who attended our last point of entry event. She was impressed with how we made a lot of nothing so moving. We are a social service agency. No cute kids, no sad puppies, or revitalized urban decay. Basically nothing to show for what we do. And our offices are, well, offices. Hardly tour-worthy. The true measure of the Benevon training is to make the story  overcome the obstacles and touch, move, and inspire your guests to engage with your mission.

The talking head is my new best friend.  A video of a family member talking about how her dad benefits from our Friendly Visitor program, which sounds like a nice old lady delivering muffins. He gets a ride to temple every Friday night with a family we matched him with.  Nice, but so what. Until you hear the back story.  He almost died after accidentally leaving the car running in the garage at his home thousands of miles away. She uprooted him to a local assisted living facility. The loss of independence, loneliness, and the change in parent/child dynamics were overwhelming for the whole family. These outings have given him independence, new relationships, and kept him connected to the community. She believes he would be “further down the road in dementia” had it not been for the connectivity he now enjoys and she is relieved at his improved quality of life.

Our story is not the outcome–the ride–but the work of an exceptional staff member who figured out what could make his life meaningful again and came up with how to make it happen.