Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Nonprofit Coaching

I get a few emails each month asking if I offer coaching to people either contemplating a start-up nonprofit or small business or who are  struggling with one they already have.

The short answer is yes, with almost every client.  It's the most important part of providing high-quality development assistance to you.

That said, I don't have a goal to become the next internet coaching sensation, giving sales oriented podcasts or packing meeting rooms with throngs of adoring fans.

I just don't work well that way.  I much prefer one-on-one client relationships that provide a specific benefit to you, vs. signing up 100 people who may not have any of the same problems that you do. Sometimes that benefit is simply helping you apply for a grant, but often it involves much more.

Knowledge isn't always power.

Most of the people that email me because of this blog are looking for effective help. They've attended a dozen or more webinars or podcasts, watched countless online videos, and they still aren't getting anywhere.

It's been my experience that attending serial podcasts or lectures gets to be a sort of addiction. It starts out as simple curiosity, but morphs into a kind of co-dependent  relationship.

Some people think if they just listen long enough, someone will have that magic bullet that instantly confers riches and success.

Some of these podcasts are really very good on a macro level. Others seem to be just about developing a mailing list. You can spend a lot of time, and sometimes a lot of money following these folks around the internet.

That's not to say that I don't charge for what I do.  A typical client will initially spend from $300 to $1500, usually over a period of four weeks. That can cover everything from conducting an initial feasibility study to determine whether they should proceed, to actually writing a proposal for them.

Every organization and person is different and one-size-fits-all group coaching only gets them part of the way to their goal.

Starting any business is scary.  Starting a nonprofit is twice as hard and ten times as frustrating. You can't look forward to selling a product to help recoup the costs. You are totally dependent on the goodwill of others for your existence in the beginning.

Other than my free white paper "Climbing the Ladder to Nonprofit Success" I don't offer a mass appeal  "course".

Every client is an individual. Solutions that work for one aren't necessarily the answer for another.
In most cases there are one or two specific troublesome areas that hold you back.  Those are the areas I can help you recognize and overcome.

Don't know what grantors look for in a winning proposal?  I'll show you.  Don't know what to expect when filling out all that start-up paperwork?  I'll tell you. Don't understand why you need a board of directors, or need a better one?  I can answer that. Need to know what to include in a program budget?  I can give you a checklist or show you what to add to what you have already.

Does this work?

Here's what one client had to say:
 "Wow. I had no idea what I was getting into with this. The internet makes it all sounds so easy.  Just find a good cause and tell people about it and money will flow in on a river of compassion.  I've spent two years thinking everyone was against me when it was really all about understanding the process and having a realistic roadmap.  I needed to step back and take the steps you recommended.  I just wanted you to know that I now have my determination letter, a far better plan moving forward,  and our organization just received its first big donation." 
This was a client that started out adamantly insisting that having a formal 501(c)(3) letter wasn't necessary. There was nothing wrong with his mission or vision but he didn't understand why all the "expensive bureaucratic BS" was necessary. I could have written him a dozen grant proposals and he would still be struggling.

Or this client that initially just wanted an appeal edited:
"Thank you so much for your list of grantor possibilities and for helping us to understand what grantors and donors want to see in a proposal. Thanks to your tips we are now targeting our appeals to people that support not just our overall vision but can help us develop into the organization we always wanted to be."

Both of these clients thought that more money was the answer to their problems. It wasn't.

That's my take on coaching. If you hire me you may very well get it. It's just part of serving your needs as effectively as possible. 

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