Wednesday, September 29, 2010

My Guide to Running a Great Non-Profit

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery -- TCS, prepare to totally swoon...

Back in June our friends at The Container Store asked me to come out to their headquarters and speak to a conference they were hosting for the Conscious Capitalism Alliance.  The Container Store founder Kip Tindell is a major part of this movement and it was simply amazing for me to hear about their business model and to meet business owners from across the country who believe in Conscious Capitalism.  To learn more about the Alliance, visit

I was totally inspired by The Container Store's Foundation Principles and I know that you will be too.  See them here 

I wrote the document below for Community Partners of Dallas called CPD Agency Principles.  We are using them to guide CPD in a multitude of ways -- as our board members write our strategic plan, for our staff annual reviews, to guide our corporate culture and establish norms, to be accountable to donors, and more.

Let me know what you think.

CPD Agency Principles
1.        Stop the Abuse.  Start the Healing. 
Our tag line isn’t just a line; it is the reason why CPD is needed and our response.  It is easy to feel sorry for our kids – those who have been beaten, neglected, sexually abused, and more – what matters is what you do to stop it from continuing.  Thank God for CPS Caseworkers and all of the CPS staff.  These brave and committed people work tirelessly to protect victims and CPD is privileged to be able to be part of the healing and help that brings these precious kids solace and sanctuary.
2.       Communication is Leadership. 
Borrowed from our good friends at The Container Store, we agree that “consistent, reliable, predictable, effective, thoughtful, compassionate, and courteous communication” is important for a successful organization.  We make sure that information is shared and available to all board members and employees.  Each one of our staff members is able to discuss this agency and our board meetings are open to all.  We celebrate financial goals, volunteer project completions, and program successes with equal fervor.
3.        Training is Key.
For our Board of Trustees members, our volunteers, and our employees, training is a vital part of success for Community Partners of Dallas.  We want our volunteers to fully understand why they are here and why their time is so needed to benefit CPD.  On-going specialized volunteers receive a formal orientation and training, and continue to receive additional on-the-job training from our staff members.  Staff members receive at least 100 hours of training in their first year with the agency, and continuing education is encouraged throughout their tenure.
4.       We Uphold the Donor Bill of Rights.
The Association of Fundraising Professionals designed the Donor Bill of Rights and CPD is committed to its principles and follows them fully.  The full document may be found below.  We want every donor to have full confidence in supporting CPD and we pledge to you that every gift is being handled appropriately and as the donor requests.
5.       Attitude of Gratitude.
Whether for our Dallas County CPS caseworkers, for our volunteers, or for our donors, we strive to show you appreciation and gratitude.  We strive to greet you with a smile, answer any question, and serve you with dignity and respect at all times.  Plus, you will walk away with a hearty thank you and knowing that you are a vital part of the success of Community Partners of Dallas.
6.        When You Love Your Work It Shows.
This is the mantra for CPD employees and we attempt to show it in everything we do.  No man is an island and each staff member of CPD knows that help with a project is only steps away.  Putting the good of the agency above ourselves is the goal and staff members work until the job is complete – but with a sense of fun in every step.  We find that when we give staff members the latitude and freedom to do their work, they go above and beyond to make it their best work possible.  New ideas and ways of looking at problems are rewarded and celebrated.  We LOVE working at CPD and we want you to feel the love too!
7.        Come Back to the Kids. 
      Finally, this is how decisions are made at CPD.  We are mission focused; making sure that every decision is put to the test:  “Will this decision provide the best possible outcome to benefit our kids and our agency?”  The mission of Community Partners of Dallas is to ensure safety, restore dignity, and inspire hope for the abused and neglected children served by Dallas County Child Protective Services.  In the end, we want to look back on our efforts here and know that we made a difference in the lives of children.  That is success.

The Donor Bill of Rights (from the Association of Fundraising Professionals)
Philanthropy is based on voluntary action for the common good. It is a tradition of giving and sharing that is primary to the quality of life. To ensure that philanthropy merits the respect and trust of the general public, and that donors and prospective donors can have full confidence in the nonprofit organizations and causes they are asked to support, we declare that all donors have these rights:
I. To be informed of the organization's mission, of the way the organization intends to use donated resources, and of its capacity to use donations effectively for their intended purposes.
II. To be informed of the identity of those serving on the organization's governing board, and to expect the board to exercise prudent judgment in its stewardship responsibilities.
III. To have access to the organization's most recent financial statements.
IV. To be assured their gifts will be used for the purposes for which they were given.
V. To receive appropriate acknowledgement and recognition.
VI. To be assured that information about their donation is handled with respect and with confidentiality to the extent provided by law.
VII. To expect that all relationships with individuals representing organizations of interest to the donor will be professional in nature.
VIII. To be informed whether those seeking donations are volunteers, employees of the organization or hired solicitors.
IX. To have the opportunity for their names to be deleted from mailing lists that an organization may intend to share.
X. To feel free to ask questions when making a donation and to receive prompt, truthful and forthright answers.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I Hate You! What's for Dinner?

I stole this title from a conference that I attended today.  The conference was put on by the Grant Halliburton Foundation and was about dealing with the teenagers in our lives.  At Community Partners of Dallas we certainly deal with teens -- both as clients of CPS and as donors and volunteers through our high school teen board called THANKs.

The entire conference was interesting but the Aha moment for me was advice from Paul, a member of the teen panel, who gave parents this advice:  Create a regular shared experience with your kid -- even if it is only once a month -- just find time to do something with each child that will give you the time to listen to your child.  Paul also said to do this with each child separately -- he said that there were things that he wouldn't ever talk about in front of his sister.

I know, I know -- I'm not a parent, but I just had to pass this along to those of you who are.  Keep your kids safe.  Listen to them and create time to be together so they will come to you when they are confronted with crisis. 

And by the way, what is for dinner?  It's five o'clock.  And I don't hate you.  Yet.

P.S.  If you have high school kids, be sure to have them join THANKs -- it is a great way to get service hours and to have some fun.  Visit and click on the volunteer tab to find out more.

Monday, September 20, 2010

First Blog Post (Original, aren't I?)

I have been thinking about starting a blog for some time now, but just never pulled the trigger.  I don't think that I am profound enough, or funny enough, or simply interested enough to write one.  Luckily for you readers (Who at this point is only me anyway -- even my friend Joe of 30 years told me that he wouldn't read my blog, and he reads blogs, so what's up with that?), I actually have a job that will provide me with material...some sad, some interesting, and some humor, so why not?  I'm an American and don't we all think that we are special and worthy?

Thanks for starting this adventure with me.  I'll talk about the kids we serve at Community Partners of Dallas, the amazing women who I get to work with, and try to provide you with info that will both inform and inspire -- about our kids, CPS, non-profits, volunteering. 

And I'll throw in some Real Housewives and Dog the Bounty Hunter too.