In my November 5th ‘Giving Thanks’ post I said I would discuss what makes an organization ‘worthy’ of receiving charitable investment from donors. The worthiness of the organization hinges on the skills, vision and actions of its leader.
Based on my experience, a ‘worthy’ organization has a leader who embodies the qualities listed below. Whether they've been on the job two years or twenty years, this person knows their limitations, and uses the team that surrounds them to carry out the work of the mission.
- Well-trained: someone who knows the work of their organization, and is well-versed and well-connected to thought leaders and colleagues in the same field.
- Collaborative: someone who builds and sustains a team of people (both paid professionals and volunteers) and shares and shapes the vision of the organization's future.
- Humble: someone who is willing to learn and grow and get training in their areas of weakness.
- Unafraid: someone who is willing to take risks, delegate work, strategy and vision to staff, board members and others in the service of the mission.
- Visionary: someone who has a clear understanding of the roles that donors can play in the organization's growth and success.
- Inclusive: someone who has a vested interest in developing and sustaining relationships with individual donors.
- Strategic: someone who has worked collaboratively and thoughtfully with staff, board, donors and other stakeholders to create a strategic plan that guides work and decision-making.
- Resourceful: someone who ensures that there are adequate funds to pay for staff, operations and facilities.
- Inspiring: someone who cultivates a feeling of community based on joy and productivity.
Now that you have this list, I'll ask you three questions:
Do these words describe you?
If your feet were put to the fire, where will the organization you're leading be a decade from now? Do you have a long-term plan and vision?
Do you feel sure and confident that what you're doing right now will ensure that this organization will be growing and thriving in every way, evolving through natural transitions, and coming out strongly on the other side?
Face the future, address your personal challenges and further bolster your strengths.
If your organization isn't already there, and you aren't there as a leader, you need to get to a place where you are worthy of the support, investment and passion that your donors have for your work and your vision.