By Dan Kennedy, Kumveka Executive Director. He’s worked alongside a number of non-profits and ministries to help them improve.

Kumveka recently turned nine (woot!). As one of our Values is Learning Constantly, it seemed fitting for us to share nine lessons that might help you right now as a non-profit leader. Let’s go:

  1. Culture Is Worth the Investment. There is no better investment of my time and the organization’s resources than in clarity on what’s important. Defining and shaping culture is our #1 leadership tool. It is a daily investment with the highest ROI. What does that look like? More here.

  2. Gifts Are Intentional. We can all get better. But let’s stop squeezing square pegs into round holes. It’s why I love StrengthsFinder as it focuses on leveraging our original design and gift set. It points to the need to really understand ourselves, our team members, and what gifts are needed for our organizations to be successful, then have the boldness to help each other find the spot where we most come alive in our giftings.

  3. Transparency Is Clearly a Good Idea. We continue to learn the importance of being painfully clear—from the get-go—in partnerships, in client projects, and in building our team. We invest time upfront in discussions on exactly why we are doing this (often expressed in key metrics), what will be delivered, who is responsible for each element, and when it will all happen. Then we do it again the next week.

  4. Start with Accessibility, Then Move to Accuracy. Keep what your audience needs at the forefront of what you do. Want to read more about this? Check out Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath (a book we love!)

  5. Serve on Their Terms. My colleague Suzanne has led the thinking and application of this. As a certified executive coach, she is trained to help others define success in their terms. It can be easy for us to slip into the habit of generically applying best practices. She is showing us that we can create better solutions and ensure our clients is getting (and perceiving!) value. You can do that too.

  6. Research Reduces Risk. A core principle of communication is “being understood” (quite important to us here at Kumveka). This implies truly knowing your audience. Suzanne often counsels our clients that audience research is a tool that increases your chance of success. It can help you better understand your audiences’s core needs or what messaging is most clear and compelling.

  7. Give It Away. We operate in a rather small niche—we are a non-profit marketing agency exclusively serving Christ-focused organizations. So, when we come across others with a similar or complementary mission, we should be generous without expecting reciprocation. I’m further convicted on this front by the fantastic read Rooting for Rivals by Peter Greer. Read at your own risk!

  8. The Best Tools Are the Ones That Are Used. We constantly go back to this on behalf of our clients. For example, we used to produce marketing pieces that were amazing. And unusable. They were too complicated, requiring more capacity and capability than our clients possessed. We continue to learn how to create solutions that are excellent and executable. Again, Suzanne says, “the smallest deed is better than the grandest intention.” How can you put this into practice at your non-profit?

  9. Look Up. We often get too focused on our work, our organization. It will do you good to really look across the ministry spectrum. God is at work around the world in and through His people! From classical music in Ukraine to schools in hard places like Cambodia to loving on young moms in the U.S., God demonstrates His creativity through each of us.

What lessons are you learning right now? Tell me in the comments.

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