Issue No. 167 of Your Weekly Staff Meeting reminds smaller ministries that shrinking smaller is rarely the way to sustainability. Consider The Salvation Army, “the most effective organization in the U.S.” And this reminder, check out my Management Buckets website with dozens of resources and downloadable worksheets for your staff meetings.
In my consulting practice—and in my management workshops—I sometimes hear the protest, “But you don’t understand! We’re just a small ministry. We couldn’t possibly implement the best practices of those much larger organizations.”
Hopefully, my response is gracious—but direct. “Is God leading you to be small for the next 10 years? Is your mission about reaching and serving more people, or less people? Do you need a workshop on how to stay small or how to shrink further? Probably not! So what should you do?”
I recommend that organizations create a rolling three-year strategic plan. Build an annual planning cycle that ruthlessly evaluates the last year and then adds one more year onto the rolling three-year forecast. And…face the growth question with courage, time-on-your-knees and outside wisdom. Part of that outside wisdom is looking at the big boys. How did they grow? How do they innovate? How do they build in capacity and sustainability?
One excellent and very unique model is The Salvation Army, the second largest nonprofit charity in the United States (according to the annual Philanthropy 400 list published by the Chronicle of Philanthropy). According to their 2009 annual report (now published only online along with a video report), they spent $3.05 billion serving people in 2008. Wow.
They are evangelical Christian in beliefs—yet coalesce wider public involvement and support in meeting human needs. Their crystal clear mission statement (on their website home page) is unequivocal: “The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.”
Peter Drucker, the father of modern management, called The Salvation Army “the most effective organization in the U.S.” He added, “No one even comes close to it with respect to clarity of mission, ability to innovate, measurable results, dedication, and putting money to maximum use.”
Hmmm. They might be worth studying. So let me commend to you this week’s book on “leadership secrets of The Salvation Army.” Consider using this book (published in 2001—but maybe even more relevant today) at your next four or five weekly staff meetings. Delegate the reading and reporting on these fascinating chapters to your direct reports:
• The “Business” of The Salvation Army
• Engage the Spirit
• Put People in Your Purpose
• Embody the Brand
• Lead by Listening
• Spread the Responsibility, Share the Profits
• Organize to Improve
• Act with Audacity
• Make Joy Count
Co-author Robert A. Watson served 44 years as a commissioned officer in The Salvation Army, four of those as the national commander, the highest-ranking officer in the U.S. This is no puff piece—it’s an insider’s insight on a remarkable organization and very much worth the read.
To order this book from Amazon, click on this title: The Most Effective Organization in the U.S.: Leadership Secrets of the Salvation Army, by Robert A. Watson and Ben Brown.
Your Weekly Staff Meeting Questions:
1) Watson writes, “To grow from a start-up to a much larger enterprise, to thrive over the long term without losing either mission focus or creative energy, requires skills that aren’t nearly so apparent or crucial when an organization launches. In fact they may be skills that are quite the opposite of those required to get off the ground.” What do you think some of those skills are—and how effective is our organization at building those competencies in our team members?
2) On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 is high), rate our “creative energy.”
Annual Volunteer Goals - Insights from Mastering the Management Buckets: 20 Critical Competencies for Leading Your Business or Nonprofit
One of the big ideas in the Volunteer Bucket, Chapter 12, in Mastering the Management Buckets, is to view volunteerism in four distinct segments—and to annually evaluate your effectiveness in all four areas.
In FY2007/2008, The Salvation Army engaged over 3.4 million volunteers in their work, plus more than 55,000 local advisory organization members. Whew! That doesn’t happen without a clear plan (in writing) and a focus on the four steps of volunteer management:
For more books, insights and resources on this, visit the Volunteer Bucket webpage and download Worksheet #12.1: "The G.N.O.M.E. Chart: Annual Volunteer Goals." This will help you summarize your annual volunteer plans (Goals, Needs, Objectives, Methods and Evaluation) on one page and enhance volunteer satisfaction and mission results.