Thursday, September 16, 2010

Nonprofit or Profitable?

I have recently finished the development of my agencies next five-year strategic plan. Our 2 main goals were to become substantially more efficient in the way that we achieve our corporate mission and vision, and to become financially self sustaining in the next five-years. The plan’s success is going to require that the organization adopt a change in the way they normally operate and to redefine how they generate and develop funds. In other words, we have to challenge the status quo and defy gravity to achieve major success. That is why I have recently purchased, for my entire management team, a new book by Rebel Brown called “Defy Gravity.” Rebel, a published author, speaker, and business strategy expert has recently created a guide to finding and capturing opportunities for sustained growth. The book defies the status quo and provides practical advice to help corporate leaders avoid crash-and-burn strategies of yesterday. I highly recommend this book to all CEOs struggling with change; change in how to implement new and unique ways to take organizations to new heights. Rebel suggests that the way we’ve always done it may be limiting our success and I agree! You can get a copy of Rebel’s book through Amazon ( or to learn more about Rebel Brown you can go to her website,

Status quo in the nonprofit world is fund development. Traditional fund development is simply the acquisition of resources to advance the mission of an organization. It is the process by which an organization uses fundraising to build capacity and sustainability and it is part of the strategic marketing of a nonprofit organization. Fund development has two sides though; it is not only concerned with raising money, but also in developing reliable sources of income that will sustain the organization through the realization of its long-term mission and vision. Successful fund development requires a strategic plan that relates funding to the purpose and programs of the organization. However, I contend that in these tough economic times nonprofit organizations must radically change its view and take the concept of fund development to a whole new level. They must, as Rebel Brown teaches in her book, Defy Gravity… challenge the status quo!

It is my contention, in these tough economic times, that nonprofit organizations are becoming a burden on the business community. It seems that individual businesses are being hit over and over and over again by local nonprofit agencies for donations and memberships in mass numbers. Everyone from chambers of commerce to the humane society is asking for small business support. Now, these are all fantastic, mission driven organizations that are doing wonderful things to improve the quality of life in their respective communities, but unfortunately they rely heavily on donations from small business. As the economy weakens there is less and less of this money available by small business to support these groups and the competition for these dollars among all of the nonprofits in a community is at an all time high. There is simply not enough money to go around and I am afraid that you will see many nonprofits closing their doors over the next several years unless they make a fundamental change in the way they operate. Rebel agrees stating that “releasing stale corporate legends is the first step toward high-velocity growth.” I believe that nonprofits just can’t continue to operate using the same old model.

The solution to this problem, which I have adopted and I am encouraging other nonprofit CEOs to also consider, is how we look at social entrepreneurialism. Social entrepreneurialism needs to be looked at in a whole new way. Social entrepreneurialism is typically the use of traditional entrepreneurial techniques to address a social issue or cause. I want to challenge the status quo, defy gravity, by looking at social entrepreneurialism as a way for nonprofit organizations to develop new funding sources through for-profit means. I want social entrepreneurialism to be defined as a nonprofit organization creating and operating a separate for-profit venture to support their nonprofit mission. In other words, any profit from the new venture would go to support the long-term mission and vision of the nonprofit. Therefore, the nonprofit would require less money in private contributions. For example, the humane society can market and sell a private-label brand of dog food in grocery stores nationally. The YMCA could market and sell exercise videos in the United States. An economic development group could develop and sell commercial and residential real estate. In Defy Gravity, Rebel Brown teaches all of us that thinking differently about our business and its value, our markets and the opportunities they provide – and about the way we’ve always done it is truly the key to future success. So, you can see by the examples, by adopting a new way of operating, there would be the potential to generate millions of dollars in revenue for these groups that could go towards the long-term financial sustainability of the nonprofit.

The organization that I serve, serves the entire community through the creation of new jobs and investment in the region and the promotion of the area’s assets to attract tourists that spend money with local merchants. For the most part, we are considered a member-based organization. The funds that we raise come primarily from among the members themselves and are used for the purpose of sustaining the organization's needs. For example, the money required for our programs and operations is collected in the form of fees paid to belong to the organization, or in the form of donations. There is a high degree of correlation though between the economy and membership. Therefore, if the economy is bad, we can expect membership to be lower. Simply, the organization requires funding to maintain its service to the community year after year. So, there is no way that we can rely completely on membership dollars and still survive long into the future.

In addition to membership dollars, we must also rely on a small base of government support for specific tourism and heritage preservation programs. And, the fact of the matter is, that often we must raise funds from a variety of sources just to maintain our budget. That is why I feel it is so important and crucial to create a fund development strategy that allows the organization to generate new revenue through for-profit means. You can see how, as an organization, it would make sense for us to develop and sell commercial real estate as a way to generate new revenue. The more money we can generate on our own, the less money we will require from the community. This is a new and radical way to look at nonprofit fund development, as well as, social entrepreneurialism, and is definitely not the status quo, but is, none the less, necessary if the nonprofit wants to survive in this new economy. This is a way for the nonprofit to take their destiny into their own hands; to become less of a burden on society, and to gain long-term sustainability in tough economic times.

Rebel Brown states in her book, “Paint by numbers approaches don’t work. Why? Because today’s market isn’t the predictable, slow moving market we took for granted. Everything changes, continuously. That means that you have to create your strategy based on today’s reality – then evolve to soar the dynamic winds of market changes to sustain growth for tomorrow.” Thank you Rebel for confirming our strategy and giving us the tools we need to execute this plan and move our agency forward; far into the future!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Are You Chasing Accomplishment Without Enjoyment Or Are You Chasing Enjoyment Without Accomplishment? Find That Work-Life Balance!

Yesterday was Labor Day and as I sat there enjoying quality time with my family I realized that I love my life. I really love my life! I felt a sense of accomplishment and enjoyment like never before. I felt a real balance that I have not felt in a really long time. It made me realize how, as a CEO, it is extremely important to find that work-life balance. Do you have it in your life? As a CEO do you struggle with the work-life balance?

Work-life balance will change over time and what may seem like the right balance today will most certainly change tomorrow. The right balance for you when you were single will change for you when you are married and that balance will change again when you have children. There is no perfect, “off the shelf” balance that you can prescribe to. The best work-life balance will be the one that meets your priorities at different stages in your life. It will be the work-life balance that gives you that feeling of daily accomplishment and enjoyment; all at the same time. You see, because accomplishment and enjoyment go hand-in-hand. You can’t have one without the other! When CEOs try to live a life of accomplishment without enjoyment they are simply unfulfilled and unhappy. They are not balanced.

Work-life balance does not mean an equal balance in hours or time spent. Trying to schedule an equal number of hours for work, family, and personal activities is unrealistic. All you really need to do is find a balance between accomplishment and enjoyment. Without accomplishment and enjoyment it is tough to answer the really big questions in your life. Have you ever asked yourself these questions?

Why do I continue to work here?
Why do I get out of bed in the morning?
Why did I buy this new house?

If these are your questions, then chances are you are chasing accomplishment without enjoyment or you are chasing enjoyment without accomplishment. You must bring them together to find that true balance. When was the last time you felt both accomplishment and enjoyment at work, with family, with friends? Or just for you?

When you find that right balance for you of accomplishment and enjoyment you then become a truly balanced CEO. You become known as the CEO that gets things done and enjoys doing it. You will be the type of CEO that attracts people to you, people that want to be around you, people that want to be on your team!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

This past week I was both honored and humbled to be featured on a blog regarding my personal philosophy on success and failure (That blog post is below as it appeared on March 4, 2010). And, the fact that it was featured by Ky Ekinci, Co-Founder of Office Divvy makes it that much more special!

You see, Ky and his partners understand SUCCESS. In 2007, they created Office Divvy in Palm Coast, Florida. Office Divvy is a cost effective, comfortable, and professional work and meeting space for all profiles in the business community. They deliver a turnkey business operation, to work-from-home professionals; corporations; individuals or companies that are starting up or downsizing; allowing these companies to concentrate on their core business objectives instantly.

Ky and his partners are the true economic developers! Economic developers that are helping small business to grow and prosper. In addition, Ky and his partners have adopted social network tools such as Twitter to reach out to a larger audience and help small business and entrepreneurs to SUCCEED. And, they impart great wisdom to those that follow, unselfishly, one Tweet at a time!

You can check out Office Divvy at:

Or you can follow their blog at:

Or you can folllow Ky Ekinci on Twitter at:

Randy Seitz's Powerful Quotes on "Failure"
by Ky Ekinci
Office Divvy

I've noticed Randy Seitz on twitter early on, and we made an immediate connection. He is a terrific and experienced Economic Development Executive with a diverse background and an impressive track record.

A couple days ago, Randy was on twitter, skillfully engaging others while machine-gunning a bunch of powerful quotes on "failure."

Last Summer I posted a short blog entry on "Success and Failure" based on a video interview of another Randy -- the Entrepreneur and Venture Capitalist, Randy Komisar. Mr. Komisar was arguing that it is the tolerance for failure that leads to innovation, and hence a solopreneur, a small business owner, a startup are more likely to be innovative (because they can tolerate failure) vis a vis a large corporation. That blog post, and the video interview can be found here: Biggest Success Breeds from Failure

There has been much said, and there is much to say about Success, Failure, and Innovation, but I will not say more. I will instead leave you with some of Randy Seitz's quotes through his wonderful tweets:

" What you call failure... I call practice! "

" I didn't fail... I was preparing for greatness! "

" Failure makes perfect! "

" I am one more failure away from greatness! "

...and when I made a comment to Randy about him being on a roll with his great quotes on failure, he responded with yet another gem:
" ...breaking past the fear of failure is where you will find true success! "

If you are on twitter, you can connect with Randy: @RPSeitz