Posts Tagged ‘raylene decatur’

Checking in on 10-year predictions for the New Year

Kicking off a New Year seems like a perfect time to recommend our upcoming addition to the CausePlanet summary library. Frankly, any time is the ideal time to pick up this book. Peter Brinckerhoff has written not one, not two, but three editions of Mission-Based Management, which should give you a sense of its value to nonprofit readers.

Author, writer and consultant Peter Brinckerhoff claims it’s an exciting time to be in the nonprofit world. He asserts, “There are more challenges, more opportunities and more ways to respond to the increasing needs in a community.”

The third edition of Mission-Based Management bestows on the reader a comprehensive look at what today’s nonprofit managers should prioritize in order to model the best high-impact nonprofits.

The premise?

The book is based on three philosophies that have informed Brinckerhoff’s entire career of 30 plus years:

  1. “Nonprofits are businesses.”
  2. “No one gives you a dime.”
  3. “Nonprofit does not mean no profit.”

He convincingly demonstrates the truth in each of these points throughout the book and in each of the management competencies he explores—from leadership, governance and finances to marketing, mission, ethics and more.

We invited Raylene Decatur of Decatur & Company to participate in our guest interview about the book. Since 2004, her firm has provided strategy and leadership transition services for nonprofit organizations ranging from start-ups to complex, mature organizations.

CausePlanet: What do you think about Brinckerhoff’s ten-year predictions? Are there any you would modify, emphasize or add?

Raylene Decatur: Brinckerhoff was brave to present his ten-year predictions and prescient regarding the future. From our vantage point in 2015, I would emphasize the following of his predictions:

Role of Government: Brinckerhoff was very accurate in his assessment of the diminished resources that local, state and federal governments would be investing in programs implemented by the nonprofit sector. For many nonprofits, especially in the health and human services sector, diversification of funding streams and reinvention of their business models will continue as trends for the foreseeable future. (Read more in our Page to Practice™ summary of Super Boards: How Inspired Governance Will Transform Your Organization)

The Impact of Generational Change: The baby boomers continue to age and have maintained greater longevity on boards and as organizational leaders than might have been anticipated five years ago. The generational change is much more complex and multifaceted than the compelling math of aging and its impact on the transfer of power. The values of a new generation of leaders and funders are raising questions regarding all aspects of nonprofit sector operations and outcomes. The recession stimulated change, and the generational transfer impact will create new and perhaps more challenging dynamics for the examination of sector practices. (Read more in our Page to Practice™ summary of Cause for Change: The Why and How of Nonprofit Millennial Engagement)

Cost of Services: Brinckerhoff notes the increased cost of providing services to a population of clients who have greater and more complex needs. More competition from both nonprofit and for-profit companies in an environment where it is more expensive to serve will accelerate as a challenge for the sector over the next decade.

Impact of Technology: As Brinckerhoff observes, the nonprofit sector must make the investments necessary to fully utilize technology to accelerate progress on mission. The transformation of client, donor and stakeholder expectations has evolved even more quickly than could be anticipated five years ago. Today, many nonprofits are facing almost insurmountable challenges related to reporting outcomes and results because their investments in systems and technology have failed to keep pace with these new norms. (Read more in our Page to Practice™ summary of Managing Technology to Meet Your Mission)

CausePlanet: If you could consult on a fourth edition of this book, what topics(s) might you envision adding?

Raylene Decatur: Talent is one of the greatest challenges facing the nonprofit sector today and in the foreseeable future. How will the sector transform its capacity to attract, retain, train and reward the people who are essential to achieving mission outcomes? This is not a new topic, but there is urgency in reimagining our assumptions regarding both paid and unpaid staff.  (Read more in our Page to Practice™ summary of The Abundant Not-for-Profit: How Talent (Not Money) Will Transform Your Organization)

In the spirit of Raylene’s final answer about resources—specifically talent—I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotations from Brinckerhoff: “A charity views its resources as a combination of four things: people, money, buildings, and equipment. … A mission-based business also has the same combination of four resources: people, money, buildings, and equipment. But it looks beyond just those four and also considers business tools in performing mission.”

See also:

12: The Elements of Great Managing

Leaders Make the Future: Ten New Leadership Skills for an Uncertain World

Nonprofit Sustainability: Making Strategic Decisions for Financial Viability

Image credits:,, Peter Brinckerhoff,







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Your nonprofit job search: Don’t waste time with the wrong people

The world’s most popular job-hunting book turns 40 this year. What Color is Your Parachute has inspired and supported generations of job hunters. One of the terms Richard Nelson Bolles coined in his seminal book is informational interview. An information interview is a meeting a job seeker schedules to ask for career or industry information, rather than interview for a specific position.

Forty years ago the best and perhaps only way to learn about an industry was to talk with an insider. In the nonprofit sector this was certainly true. Understanding the skills, attributes or experience necessary to step on the first rung of a nonprofit career path was difficult. There was no Google, social network or real-time access to information. Printed materials were dated, hard to find or nonexistent.

Access to information has changed dramatically in recent decades. What Color is Your Parachute acknowledges the rapidly changing career landscape by publishing a new addition each year. Lately, I have been wondering if some people who call me are still reading the 1972 edition!

Specifically, job seekers seem to be unaware that information on any job in any industry is abundantly and easily accessible. Today, information is also readily available on the professional credentials of anyone you might identify as a resource for your specific job hunt. In the ’70s, ‘80s and perhaps even the ‘90s, it was often challenging to identify the right resources and arrive for information interviews with precisely honed questions. Not anymore, so what are the updated rules to make an information interview effective?

Research, research, research

Your resource is a professional who is giving you the gift of time; use it well. Do your homework, research the industry and prepare thoughtful questions that explore information not readily available online. Then research the people who are likely to have the information you need so you pick resources sparingly. Each session with a resource may require hours of research and thoughtful preparation.

Want to switch from a for-profit to a nonprofit job? First, undertake comprehensive research on local nonprofits and the information available on this type of career transition. Trying to better understand the skills and attributes necessary to advance in the fundraising profession? A Google search will net over eight million hits, the Association of Fundraising Professionals showing up first. Want to relocate to another part of the country? Research real estate, cost of living and the job market before you start booking appointments. Nothing is worse than realizing the person you are doing a favor for has not done his/her homework! Poor preparation is not an asset in building your network.

Don’t waste time on the wrong people

Since the beginning of the year, I have been contacted at least once a week (sometimes once a day) by someone who wants to schedule a face-to-face meeting for an information interview. Often they start with the statement, “I have had coffee with 50 people and person X said I should call you.” If you have had coffee with 50 people and still do not have the information you need, perhaps resource selection is a problem so return to research. If you have had coffee with 50 people and still do not have a job, perhaps you were not really doing information interviews. Or perhaps 50 people are telling you things you do not want to hear?

Be a sponge

Information interviewing is about learning new things and exploring new options. Are you open to hearing new ideas, insights and information? If you are interested in finding a job or making a career change, it’s important to listen to all the feedback, not just that information you want to hear.

Most busy professionals are truly interested in attracting new talent to their field and talking about what they do. Time is a precious commodity; use it well.

See also:

The Three Laws of Performance: Rewriting the Future of Your Organization and Your Life

Match: A Systematic, Sane Process for Hiring the Right Person Every Time

Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology that Fuel Performance and Success at Work

It’s Not Just Who You Know: Transform Your Life (and Your Organization) by Turning Colleagues and Contacts Into Lasting, Genuine Relationships

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Thriving on reinvention

“Regardless of the timeline for the U.S. economic recovery, emerging trends in competition, technology, demographics and consumer behavior are the major drivers of future opportunities for nonprofit organizations. These trends will shape a marketplace that is vastly different from the one that existed prior to the recession. These changes require a thoughtful examination of every aspect of your organization. The conversation begins with the organization’s business model. How does your organization create, deliver and capture economic, societal or other forms of value?”

This introduction was quoted from one of our valued contributors at CausePlanet, Raylene Decatur, who will be presenting this topic in Denver, Colorado on March 8 for executive leaders called “Thriving on Reinvention.” In the session, she will discuss the following questions with local leaders:

  • Which results are we accountable for achieving?
  • How will we achieve these results?
  • What do these results cost and how will be fund them?
  • How do we build the organization needed to deliver results?

Decatur also touches on these questions and some ideas surrounding the topic of thriving on reinvention in an earlier article we posted last March at CausePlanet.

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