The Best in, the Best Out

Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”

Matthew 15:10-11

I’ve heard the last three months described as the end of the fifth quarter of 2020. To which some might say, “Garbage in, garbage out.” It’s been a rough 12 months for most of us.

I remember the first time I heard that saying, “garbage in, garbage out.” A youth pastor shared it decades ago. And it applies to my job today: I work in systems and databases, and if there’s bad data, you won’t be able to make a good decision.

Jesus says it’s not what you put in, but what comes out that counts. And yet, he also says to wash the inside and the outside of the cup. If we are to be pure and holy and blameless in God’s sight, perhaps we need to pay attention to the front end to make sure the back end isn’t defiled either.

Starting out right can make a big difference. I met a new friend recently who found me online on LinkedIn. He wanted to have a discussion about next steps in starting a career in the nonprofit sector. While there’s many possible steps (ie, volunteer), he was a reader, too.

Therefore, today I’m providing a longer list than what I provided to him. It’s a list of books that I’ve found useful while serving in a nonprofit. Good stuff in, good stuff out. Perhaps you will enjoy them as well:

On communication:

On fundraising:

On the sector:

On change management:

On leadership:

And just a few other favorites:

What book is your favorite? Have you read any on this list? Share on Facebook @HopelesslyHopefulBooks. https://www.facebook.com/HopelesslyHopefulBooks

Photo by Ed Robertson on Unsplash

© 2021, Mollie Bond. All rights reserved. Originally published at www.molliebond.org.

Note: I did not receive any compensation for this blog post. Some of the links above are “affiliate links.” If you use this link, I receive a small affiliate commission. I recommend books, products, or services that I have enjoyed using and believe you will benefit from as well. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Finish What You Started PART 3

Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 

1 John 3:21-23

Have you ever felt compelled to do something because in your gut you knew it was the right thing? If that thing came from a motivation of love, I believe you are on the right track! (More about being motivated by love in Part 1.)

A handful of sentences has stuck with me the past few months. The gist of it was: “Don’t do things right. Instead, do the right thing. It will take you from running around in circles to forward motion” (Manager Tools, see also this article). It seems to me that’s what today’s verse is pointing out. If our hearts are motivated by love to do the right thing, we won’t be stuck in a Pharisee-mindset of doing things right. Don’t work and love out of obligation, but instead be motivated by love to do the right thing.

In the nonprofit sector, it’s easy to get wrapped up in following the rules laid out by others. Funders, regulators, and even volunteers will have a lot of opinions on what you should do and when. Usually, it’s wise to consider the idea, but pursuing good ideas cut off the possibilities of finishing great ideas.

Last week, I shared with you how I’m learning a lot about finishing from Jon Acuff’s book, Finish. Today, it’s the same song, second verse. I’ve been able to apply some of Acuff’s pointers and combined that with some great pointers from Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, by David Allen. If you’re learning how to do the right thing, prioritization often comes as a first step. Here’s the steps I pulled from David Allen’s book that made a difference for me:

  • Write it all down. Literally write everything on your mind on paper (or digitally).
  • Organize those items into a system that you can take advantage of when you have spare moments.
  • In the end, “done beats perfect” (also a quote of @ShilaMorris from the John Maxwell Team).

As @DavidAllen says, “Much of the stress that people feel doesn’t come from having too much to do. It comes from not finishing what they started.” Finish what God has asked you to do. Your heart will not condemn you. And if you feel your heart condemning you, then take the bold step to ask for a bold outcome for what you are working on in order to finish it.

What are you finishing this week? Share it on Facebook @HopelesslyHopefulBooks. https://www.facebook.com/HopelesslyHopefulBooks

If what you are finishing is identifying your leadership style, join me for a free webinar this Thursday, April 1 at 5:30 pm PT. Together, we’ll Identify Your Leader Language. Register here.

Photo by Adam Winger on Unsplash

© 2021, Mollie Bond. All rights reserved. Originally published at www.molliebond.org.

Note: I did not receive any compensation for this blog post. Some of the links above are “affiliate links.” If you use this link, I receive a small affiliate commission. I recommend books, products, or services that I have enjoyed using and believe you will benefit from as well. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Finish What You Started PART 2

This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 

1 John 3:19-20

Learning about yourself is fun. And edifying. And challenging. I’m a junkie for personality profiles, so when I heard that Patrick Licioni had discovered a pattern for work behaviors, I couldn’t resist. I won’t go into the details of that test called “Working Genius,” but would encourage you to take it yourself and discover more of what God created you to do.

I am, however, bringing up this resource because I learned I’m both a starter and a finisher. I found out that I am strong in Wonder and Tenacity. For me to be on a mission, I have to take on the challenge of how to not start everything today and then try to finish it tomorrow. I love to create the new systems and processes that help people get where they want to go—and then see them accomplish what they set out to do. It’s exhilarating. And exhausting.

These days, I’m learning a lot about finishing. And, I’ve finished a lot, too: a few projects at work, some overdue chores at home, and some books. Speaking of books, Jon Acuff’s book, Finish: Give Yourself The Gift of Done, was read in three days. It’s that good. And, it felt good to finish. I read Finish because I found myself vacillating between two scenarios and the extremes were growing further apart.

Perhaps you’ll recognize one of these two scenarios:

1) You get excited quickly. That new program, that new product, that new donor possibility. They are just waiting to be invited! There’s much to accomplish together, and the community benefits. What’s not to lose? Time, of course! So, you think, “Don’t lose another second! Invite that donor to the event (that hasn’t been planned yet), buy the software (that does what your current software already does), start that program (without getting board approval)! No time like the present to live life fully. Carpe diem!” I usually find myself saying these things when I have some spare hours, energy from the last cup (or it is pot?) of coffee, and a thought partner who ramps up creativity. It’s exciting.

2) You get overwhelmed quickly. That new program, that new product, that new donor possibility. They are all waiting on you. There’s so much to accomplish together, and the community benefits, so you continue to take steps forward. What’s not to lose? Time, of course. So, you think, “I don’t even have a second! I need to invite that donor to the event (that I still need to plan), I should buy the software (that maybe will make the current software better), and start the program (and I know I’ll be slowed by board approval)! There no time to live in the present. Forget carpe diem!” I usually find myself saying these things when I have no hours, no energy, and I’ve asked for no help. It’s draining.

(Spoiler alert ahead!) In either case, Finish helped to get things done and finished. For me, it was a one-two punch to stop rotating between the scenarios above.

  • Cut goals in half, and/or
  • Double the timeline.

Here’s the secret sauce: What made the biggest difference was spending time in the Word. I needed to rest in His presence, knowing that God would not condemn my heart if I didn’t get it all started…or accomplished. Set your heart in truth. Finish what God has asked you to do. Your heart will not condemn you, nor will I, and nor will God.

What goal are you going to change so that you can mark it as finished? Share your thoughts below or on Facebook @HopelesslyHopefulBooks. https://www.facebook.com/HopelesslyHopefulBooks

Photo by Lance Grandahl on Unsplash

© 2021, Mollie Bond. All rights reserved. Originally published at www.molliebond.org.

Note: I did not receive any compensation for this blog post. Some of the links above are “affiliate links.” If you use this link, I receive a small affiliate commission. I recommend books, products, or services that I have enjoyed using and believe you will benefit from as well. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Finish What You Started PART 1

If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.

1 John 3:17-23

In the next three weeks, we’ll be looking at this entire passage closer. This is part 1 of a 3-part series to look at a handful of verses each week. In each week, we’ll learn how they might apply as someone who works at a nonprofit. Today, we are looking closer at the beginning of the end: How do you continue toward the finish line? Let’s look closer at the first two verses which go like this: “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”

When do you know you’ve given enough? It’s a frequently asked question, especially asked of those who work in the nonprofit sector. When should someone give to a beggar at a stoplight? (See blog about How to Serve a Nonprofit Well for more on this thought). When is it appropriate to make that sacrificial gift—the one where you have to give up something in order to give something else away? Do you have to do that for everyone that asks, every nonprofit that shows a need and a pledge card?

The answer is…up to you to discover. My suggestion is to search God’s Word and your heart. I believe a gift given in gratitude is the best possible motivation, and when you give out of obligation, the gift means nothing. Love should be the cause and reason. Love is shown in action—whatever action that may be—is the evaluator. And we know that God is Love (1 John 4:7-21), so anything done in Love’s name is a fulfillment of 1 John 3:17-18.

It’s in the day-to-day loving actions that get us one step closer to finishing.

Here’s a question to ask yourself: Think about yesterday. What actions did you take out of love, and what actions did you take that were less loving? What about for your work, your local nonprofit, your community?

And, if you’d like to join in on the broader conversation about being on mission at a nonprofit, head over to Facebook @HopelesslyHopefulBooks. https://www.facebook.com/HopelesslyHopefulBooks

Next week we’ll take a peek at 1 John 3:19-20, and then wrap up with 1 John 3:21-23.

Photo by June Liu on Unsplash

© 2021, Mollie Bond. All rights reserved. Originally published at www.molliebond.org.

Deep End of the Lake Review

This week we take a break thinking about the nonprofit sector to celebrate the launch of a book I was privileged to read as an advance reader. This book is available for purchase TODAY! I love fiction, and especially fiction like this one that is a page-turner. Keep in mind this is the sequel to Carol Grace Stratton’s book, Lake Surrender.

The Deep End of the Lake is a fun, easy read. I zipped through it in four days because it’s a story where you always want to know what happens next! The characters with their quirks bring to life the sleepy town of Lake Surrender. The addition of the new job that Ally takes, the wedding plans, and family drama make for an interesting story that I appreciated.

Thank you, Carol, for bringing your gift to the page in this wonderful book!

I have received a copy of this book for a fair and honest review.

© 2020, Mollie Bond. All rights reserved. Originally published at www.molliebond.org.

Note: I did not receive any compensation for this blog post. Some of the links above are “affiliate links.” If you use this link, I receive a small affiliate commission. I recommend books, products, or services that I have enjoyed using and believe you will benefit from as well. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

What Did Your Last Vacation Look Like?

Teach us to number our days,
    that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Psalm 90:12

This verse floated through my mind during “vacation” (which, let’s be real, was a “staycation”). At a nonprofit, it’s easy to never really on vacation. Some nonprofit professionals I know use vacation time to set an “out of office” auto response on their email, and then they spend the day reading emails and delay-sending them to the following morning. I know others who say they are on vacation, don’t respond to email, but to every text, phone call, and instant message on social media. I’ve been guilty of both in the past.

Or how about this scenario: You take a vacation day from “normal” work to volunteer for another nonprofit, or work on that partnership that will advance the nonprofit you work for, or to try to ignore the needs and still wonder about that client on the street. I’ve been guilty of this “vacation,” too!

This verse questions our wisdom in the reasoning of not taking time away from the daily rituals and strains. Some interpret this verse as a long-term strategy. Meaning, what should I spend the course of my life with, the totality of my days? It’s a reminder of our mortality. And that’s not a wrong interpretation. Evaluating the past (briefly) to talk to God about the future is a wise move.

Yet, during my last vacation, this verse was more immediate. I needed God to arrange my hours, the numerical units that made up just that day. Living for what was at hand seemed to be the plead of my heart.

So, I asked God to number my day; So that what I did in that day would be of benefit for the days to come. In other words, may this one day away from my paid nonprofit work be the foundation of the wisdom I need when I go back to that nonprofit work. May my heart be wise in the moment. And by doing so, I’ve set myself up for success in the future if I am constantly asking God to arrange my day.

Prayer: God, sometimes I get ahead of myself and try to count my days before they’ve arrived. Please help me in this moment to give You what is left of my day so that I may be wise in how I use it.

How was your last vacation/staycation? What did you do? How did you find that gave you wisdom for the days ahead? Wanna share? Leave a comment at Facebook @HopelesslyHopefulBooks. https://www.facebook.com/HopelesslyHopefulBooks

Your job isn’t all that matters. Your life hangs in the work-life balance! Join me for a FREE webinar this Thursday, March 4th at 5:30 pm Pacific Time. Register here.

Photo by STIL on Unsplash

© 2020, Mollie Bond. All rights reserved. Originally published at www.molliebond.org.

Have a Patient Pace

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

2 Peter 3:9

Have you ever asked this question? You know, the one said in a hurried state of mind: “How much longer?” And if you haven’t asked it recently (#pandemic), then that question will pop up soon. We all get antsy, wanting more, wanting forward motion. It’s that feeling when you need to use the restroom but the line is too long. Hurry up!!

For nonprofit work, when an idea strikes, it’s hard not to put that idea into motion right away. It will help people, so why wait?

Instead, we should mimic God who waits for us to catch up with Him. The pace of God may seem slower than our desired pace. Trusting His patience means we can display patience ourselves.

For example, consider waiting for the community at large to ask us to put into motion the program or fundraiser or process. Then, when the community needs it, the nonprofit has had an incubator period to develop a plan that isn’t a band-aid, but instead is a real permanent solution. Right now, think about those good ideas that hit you suddenly and are too exciting to pass up that aren’t built around a crisis. Of course, there will always be moments of crisis when the need is clear and it’s necessary to deploy your resources (time, talent, and treasure) immediately. That’s not a time for patience, but activity.

If we don’t rush a good idea, then there is sustained success. That time spent planning provides the ability to make sure we aren’t leaving anyone out in the process. Sometimes a nonprofit will leave out a client; The needs of who are being served are left out in pursuit of the grant, or the community awareness, or the notoriety. Being like God and slowing the pace allows for patience, full engagement, and inclusion of everyone.

Instead of asking, “How much longer?” ask “How can I be patient?” Wait, watch, see. And be slow. It will result in changed hearts and changed lives.

Are you feeling the pressure to hurry or the call to slow down? Now is the time to pause and reflect on your pace and patience.

Prayer: Jesus, I often get ahead of You. You keep Your promises by being slow and patient. I want to do the same.

What are your tactics to remember patience when a good idea comes? Share your thoughts on Facebook @HopelesslyHopefulBooks. https://www.facebook.com/HopelesslyHopefulBooks

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

© 2020, Mollie Bond. All rights reserved. Originally published at www.molliebond.org.

How to Serve a Nonprofit Well

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Luke 18:9-14

Arloa Sutter in The Invisible: What the Church Can Do to Find and Serve the Least of These taught me the value of knowing the people you serve. And it’s not just understanding them as people and individuals—it’s knowing by experience.

Sometimes new nonprofits flop because the staff, volunteers, and sometimes even the board maintain distance from the people who need them the most. Living in the neighborhood, immersing yourself in that community’s struggles, and being part of the solution is a powerful position to change the world in the life of a person.

I’m not the one to talk. I’ve served on boards in another state, far from the work being done. I’ve tried to help nonprofits that only wanted my dollar bills, not my time or talent. Sometimes an organization wants my help because I’d bring a “fresh perspective” and some outside-the-group-think thinking. Yet, I knew that there was a part of me that just didn’t quite get it. I couldn’t connect with the clients, so my time and talent were not as useful to the organization.

The passage above can provide insight into the need for humility, grace, and God’s acceptance of all people no matter their list of sins. Re-reading it with an eye for motivation means that I have to read it knowing that I can be the Pharisee because of my motivation. It’s the internal intention that shows itself in humility and grace, or the lack thereof.

No matter your role or location, check your motivation. Do you serve for the luxury of being associated with an organization? Or do you have a passion for the work they do? Do you know clients, or just about the clients?

I’m not saying that everyone should quit their jobs, move, and become a client of a nonprofit. What I am encouraging is a reflection to make sure that you are not like the first man in the story that Jesus tells us. It takes humility, he says, to serve well.

Look at your motivations today. Are you the Pharisee or the tax collector? Share your thoughts on Facebook @HopelesslyHopefulBooks. https://www.facebook.com/HopelesslyHopefulBooks

Photo by Matt Collamer on Unsplash

© 2021, Mollie Bond. All rights reserved. Originally published at www.molliebond.org.

Note: I did not receive any compensation for this blog post. Some of the links above are “affiliate links.” If you use this link, I receive a small affiliate commission. I recommend books, products, or services that I have enjoyed using and believe you will benefit from as well. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Pause for the Cause of Love

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

1 John 3:18

The best nonprofits are the ones who love on people by helping them. It sounds obvious, but many nonprofits talk a good game and never get around to helping people. They have great business cards and fancy websites, but no client stories. Did you know you don’t need a 501c3 letter of determination from the IRS to do some good? Instead, do what you are passionate about start to reach your mission. And when you need to hire help and raise money, then you formalize and register to receive your nonprofit status. Some of the best nonprofits start in a church basement, a garage, a corner of the living room. Or, if you are St. Valentine, in jail, hidden in homes, or in a judge’s office.

Sunday is Valentine’s Day. A day dedicated to love, to Hallmark cards, and to candy. And, to St. Valentine. This man helped persecuted Christians in the 200’s AD. It’s probably safe to say that St. Valentine’s Day has been around as long as anyone can remember.

For me, Valentine’s Day is a benchmark in the year to check in on my goals and see how I’m doing. You might consider how you are applying your word of the year, or how your focus has been on a resolution, or celebrate in your consistency in what you’ve set out to do.

With this day coming up, as nonprofit leaders it is a good time to pause for a cause and consider a few things:

  • Have I been consistent in what I set out to do this calendar year?
  • Have I been loving in all ways possible this calendar year?
  • How do people know that I’ve been consistent and loving this calendar year?

Since we are only about six weeks into the new year, it’s a great time to reflect and consider how you have been loving your volunteers, staff, and board, too. How have you mimicked St. Valentine and loved on people at your nonprofit?

Don’t love people in words alone. Love people with actions. Love people in truth. Are you keeping pace with your 2021 goals that reflect love? Take a few minutes to pause for the cause of love. And then share on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HopelesslyHopefulBooks

Prayer: Jesus, You have inspired so many movements and people to love well. Help me to do the same.

Photo by Steve Halama on Unsplash

© 2021, Mollie Bond. All rights reserved. Originally published at www.molliebond.org.

Who Will You Invite?

“Come,” he replied, “and you will see.” So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon.

John 1:39

When the ride share driver dropped me off, he asked if he should wait until I’ve made my way inside. Outside the warehouse in Chicago, the gangs marked their territory. Inside, the women laughed, talked, worked. I had been invited to visit a newer nonprofit in the city called HHPLift, which help women through becoming their employer in the program called 1eleven. The women couldn’t get jobs, maybe because of a conviction, or being a single mom, or housing instability. No matter the reason, they were there, making soap and earning money.

As we walked around their stations, each woman proudly told us about their role. At the end, we got to package the soap with them and hear their stories. One of them told me about President Obama’s former home, which had just gone up for sale. Another spoke about her kiddos and a third chatted about the commute she has to get to the warehouse. I’ve enjoyed following the organization. None of this would have occurred without the invitation.

Today’s verse reminds us that some of the first disciples became disciples because of an invitation. Andrew and another were hanging out by the river when John the Baptist said, “look, y’all, the Son of God!” (my paraphrase). The two got up and asked a question, “Where are you staying?” To which Jesus responded, “Come and see.”

In nonprofit work, we know we do not do the work alone. Funders, volunteers, and board members help the nonprofit get closer to reaching its mission. It begins with an invitation. Sometimes people are courageous to ask, and sometimes the invitation needs to be extended.

In the years since that visit to 1eleven, operations have expanded to so much more and I encourage you to take a peek. Come and see.

Challenge: Who is the one person who would enjoy being connected to the nonprofit you care about? How can you introduce them to come and see? Take the challenge and let us know on Facebook how it went! https://www.facebook.com/HopelesslyHopefulBooks

Prayer: Jesus, you ask us to come and see. May we follow this example and show others what you are doing.

Go to the opportunities that align with your values. Want some practical tips on how to define (or refresh) your values? Join me this Thursday (2/4/21) for a FREE webinar, Core Values Re-Imagined at 5:30 PT/8:30 ET. Register here. (And consider inviting a friend.)

Photo by Aurélia Dubois on Unsplash

© 2021, Mollie Bond. All rights reserved. Originally published at www.molliebond.wordpress.com.

Note: I did not receive any compensation for this blog post. I recommend books, products, or services that I have enjoyed using and believe you will benefit from as well. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.