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Change and Perspective for Non-Profits

Posted on July 31, 2014 in General Ministry, Management, MMI, Patient Stories, Programs, Volunteering | 10 comments

The Future
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Many times while working in non-profits and ministries, we find that some that interact with the organization have a view that runs counter to what is actually happening.  This viewpoint can be conceived through discussions with others or life long perceptions.  It’s human nature to sometime use a personal perspective to create such an opinion, but it is important that all realize that personal perceptions are not necessarily accurate when it comes to the facts.

Marketing for Nonprofits

Volunteers that engage periodically with an organization have a passion to serve.  This passion is driven by the need to help others and use the skills that God has given them to help the less fortunate.  They want to help, but they sometimes also forget to see the big picture and lose a perspective that is so important to the success of the overall organizational goals.  It’s not a surprise.  How can someone working in a warehouse have full knowledge of how a team is doing its work half a world away?  The same can be said about someone that has been working for years with an organization but only is involved for a week or two, once a year.

The truth is time evolves, and the challenges of operating an organization are many.  The various issues also change over time and the organization must react immediately to these changes to ensure that they never lose focus on serving the less fortunate.  This is where organizations that have been lead by long serving leadership sometimes get off track.  You cannot do things the same way forever, if you do, you most likely will lose the ability to optimize all the resources you have been provided and the impact on those you serve lessens over time.


The biggest challenge of all is to make the changes necessary to deal with these issues.  Some times you need to take a few steps back so that the organization can move forward.  This is not for the faint of heart and you must also be prepared for the ever present “we have always done it this way!” syndrome that is sure to come.  There is also going to be the ever present personnel that have been with the organization so long, how can we ask them to move on?  The truth is, if the organization is focused on doing what is in the best interest of the ministry, these are the very people that would want it to be successful in the future.  If that means stepping aside, then so be it.

Unfortunately, the very compassion that causes people to engage with an organization can be the cause of it to potentially fail.  An organization must never lose its central focus and never tie its future to individuals, but to serving the cause of the organization.  It can never be about me, it must always be about them.  That’s a tough thing for some, especially if they have been around for a long time.

Let me know your thoughts and check out all that we are working on with Medical Ministry International.

  • Gary Laabs

    Dear Sam,

    Change is always stressful. As you point out, the degree of anxiety will differ based on the individual’s experience.

    For an organization such as MMI, recommend that the best way to handle issues surrounding change is to seek Divine guidance. Personally I find it very helpful to pray, “Lord, show me what it is You would have me to do.” I find that once I have turned these decisions over to the Lord, I can then move forward expressing myself and the way I feel but knowing that Someone else has the tiller. Then when things do not turn out the way I originally thought they should, I am much more accepting.

    • Samuel Smith

      Could not agree more, Gary! Prayer and seeking God’s counsel is always the first step. That being said, He has given us all skills that we are to use to do our part as well. Life is a challenge that God really doesn’t worry about the challenge as much as how we handle the challenges. It’s and honor to serve His purpose and follow His lead.

  • Sandy Ellingson

    I wise person once told me that if you are not moving forward you are falling behind. There is no neutrality when it comes to God’s kingdom, no stop, not even a pause. It is full steam ahead. God never said it would be easy, but He did say he would be with us…even when we make a wrong turn or two….You know my mission statement: I want to make a difference, with people who make a difference, doing things that make a difference. You, my friend, certainly qualify.

    • Samuel Smith

      Totall agree Sandy! We must continue to seek to get better at all we do, or we will fall behind. We cannot ever let God’s work become secondary in our lives and it is through His guidance that all things are possible.

      Thanks for the kind words!

  • Phil Cooke

    Outstanding post. You’re exactly right about losing the “big picture.” Very often, the bigger an organization gets – and the more spread out geographically it becomes – it’s a real challenge to keep the greater vision in front of the entire team. I recommend regular sessions with key team members to reinforce the brand story, purpose, and founding vision of the nonprofit. Regional offices, new generations of leadership, ministry distractions and more are very real challenges. I can’t tell you how many great organizations ultimately failed, because because they lost their story.

    • Samuel Smith

      Thanks, Phil! This is a major challenge that organizations that are for-profit and non-profit face on a daily basis. As one of the e-mails I received stated, it is so important to not get so caught up in today, but look to tomorrow.

      Makes a lot of sense!

  • Cal Ramage

    Howdy Sam,
    I appreciate you seeking response to this issue you so appropriately raise in light of MMI’s current efforts to make the organization more efficient and stay true to the course of serving the poor both physically and spiritually. What came to my mind was Acts 15:36- on where Paul wanted to revisit the work he and Barnabas had begun on a previous mission trip. Barnabas wanted to bring John Mark and Paul was adamant about him not going. A personnel issue. So they split up their work and went to different areas. Paul wanted to have only the “A” team going whereas Barnabas wanted to give a young immature Christian a second chance. The result of dividing up the work into different teams with different philosophies allowed for more mission work to be accomplished than they could have done by staying together.
    Just my thought. Cal

    • Samuel Smith

      Great point, Cal! Though this post is not about any specific organization, it does ring true with us and other organizations. People seek to join organizations of like mind and principle so that more work can be done. If one does not suit your taste then for sure seek out one that does as there is much work that needs to be done! Let’s hope that more will be encouraged to join up in service for Him!

      Great comment and much appreciated!

  • Marji Bishir Hill

    This blog made me think of Founder’s Syndrome and the problems that happen when the Founder is the last one to realize it’s time for new leadership.

    • Samuel Smith

      There are many organizations that have dealt with the issues of Founder’s Syndrome, Marji. This includes non and for-profit organizations. It is imperative that organizations not allow short term issues to disrupt long term goals that have been established. There is no doubt that charismatic leaders are sometimes the last to realize they may be contributing to the problem. The transition process can be long and bumpy, but the great news is that we have seen many organizations that have made the move and achieved success with future generations of leadership.

      Thanks for the comment!