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Things have changed

Dear Friends: Our entire community was reminded last week of an enduring lesson: life may change at a moment’s notice. Periodically we revisit this lesson through forces of nature, criminal activities, and other, more personal ways that open a new chapter in our individual lives and our shared life together.

For me, a new chapter began last Wednesday evening.

Last week I learned that I have a mass on my kidney, and this week I will have that mass removed. With surgery and recovery, I will be away from work for about six weeks. 

As many of you know, ONEplace is a staff of two, so operations may slow a bit. We are fortunate to have Lolita as ONEplace Associate, who I trust completely and will carry on admirably during my absence.

Please know that, as I move forward into the days and weeks ahead, I do so without fear but with gratitude. I draw upon the work of Jim Collins, and let his Stockdale Paradox form the basis for my approach:

I will retain the faith that I will get through this. I will confront the most brutal facts of my current reality, whatever they might be. And, in the end, I will turn the experience into a defining event of my life, which, in retrospect, I would not trade.

I look forward to living into the experiences of this week and the weeks following, just as I look forward to returning to ONEplace sometime in April.

In the meantime, take care.


Expectations and feedback

His total playing time added up to less than a minute, and virtually every second he was on the field, he was the center of attention. Yet, Denver Bronco’s kicker Brandon McManus – who scored 10 of the team’s 24 points – was hardly mentioned in the postgame discussions and gave few, if any, locker room interviews. Why?

With kickers, “successes are largely expected and failures magnified.”

Do you ever feel like that? You strive to stay current. You prepare for countless hours. You go through draft after draft of the plan or presentation. And when it’s all said and done, only the mistakes and missteps get discussed.

While we assess our own performance, feedback from colleagues and managers carries great weight. For most of us, feedback is scarce, and we tend to hang on to the critical and the negative. The latest statistic I’ve seen says that it takes eight positive comments to balance out one negative comment.

And, the occasional nod is not feedback.

When recently asked about their offensive players, the often-interviewed quarterback Peyton Manning named McManus and Colquitt (punter) as “two of our best.” That’s similar to the boss saying, “good job” to you in a staff meeting and thanking everyone for their hard work. It’s a nice thing to do, but it’s not feedback.

Feedback is specific. It references previously set goals or expectations. And it allows room for people to develop.

People need space to develop. After struggling for two years to make it in the NFL, McManus finally earned the kicking job last fall. He went 30 for 35 for the regular season and was a perfect 10 for 10 in the playoffs. Even so, he was working with his coach last week to adjust his kicking stride, “a seemingly minute change that can be a significant one in a craft where inches matter.”

Professional development, like football, is a game of inches – a nudge here, an adjustment there.

How are you helping your staff to develop? How are you addressing your own professional development? If you’re stuck or not sure where to turn, ONEplace can help. Don’t hesitate to contact us.



Quotes are from Sacramento Bee

Developing Resolute-Humble Leaders

I recently heard of an individual who was promoted to a leadership position from within his organization. When the email hit everyone’s inbox, staff spontaneously celebrated with him. The vibrancy of the conversation communicated an esprit de corps felt by all. They knew he deserved it, and they felt good about the organization because of it.

Unfortunately, this is more the exception than the rule.

For over a decade, The Bridgespan Group has conducted research on nonprofit leadership, and they report that, despite volumes of articles and discussions about the need for organizations to develop their own staff, too many nonprofits do not grow their own leadership. The result is a “leadership development deficit” and an ever-present worry about leader succession.

Another result is that we’re losing our leaders. When ONEplace began, there was a concern about Baby Boomer retirements leaving a gap in leadership. However, researchers report that less than half of those leaders leaving their positions are doing so because of retirement. Many leave due to a lack of support for their learning and growth.

When we cut our professional development, we bleed out leaders.

Last October, I wrote about ONEplace’s move to encourage the development of Resolute-Humble Leaders (read post). As we continue down that path, it’s becoming clearer that what we’re taking on is less like a program focus and more akin to a movement.

As we move into and through spring, ONEplace will be facing the challenge of how to reverse the trend toward effectively supporting and developing leaders. I suspect that it will involve conversations with many of you.

I look forward to it.

Top Ten for 2015

In the spirit of year-end reflections, we once again share our Top Ten lists. Recognizing that people vote with their attendance and with their post-session evaluations, we do two lists. Therefore, based upon your evaluations and attendance, here are your top workshops from 2015 (notice ties in both lists).

By Evaluation

1. Donor Recognition: Keep ‘em Coming Back (11/12/15) 99%

2. Grant Writing Basics (3/10/15) 97%

2. Grant Research Tools (12/10/15) 97%

4. Donor Retention (2/5/15) 96%

4. Securing Corporate Sponsorships (10/26/15) 96%

4. Achieving Sustainability (12/10/15) 96%

7. Starting a Nonprofit (1/7/15) 95%

7. Grant Research Tools (3/24/15) 95%

7. Three Steps to a Better Board (6/2/15) 95%

7. Grant Writing Basics (6/14/15) 95%

7. Planning your Year-End Campaign (10/29/15) 95%

7. Grant Writing Basics (12/3/15) 95%

By Attendance

1. Building a Cohesive Team (3/31/15) 43

2. Job of the Manager – Managing Yourself (9/14/15) 39

3. Major Gifts (5/7/15) 36

3. Communicating for Results (9/21/15) 36

5. Trans*, Gender Non-Conforming, & Genderqueer: a workshop for allies (8/12/15) 32

5. Managing Change & Making Effective Decisions (10/5/15) 32

7. Leading & Empowering – Growing Yourself (10/12/15) 31

8. Building Relationships – Managing Others (9/28/15) 30

9. Your Marketing Plan (4/29/15) 25

10. HR Essentials (4/22/15) 24

Thank you for all you do to support, encourage and enrich our community. You’re amazing people doing amazing work.

All the best for 2016!


Management Track to stay on track

Many nonprofit staff supervise others, manage programs, or both. Acquiring and honing management skills form a continuous process and a cornerstone of organizational effectiveness.

Our ONEplace Management Track workshop series addresses basic management skill development needs. Almost every month, we offer a Management Track series focused on skills critical to your success.

For example, we recently held our Supervision Series (Sep), Fundraising Series (Oct), and Operations Series (Nov). In the coming months, we’ll offer a Better Board Series (Jan), Volunteer Management Series (Feb), and more.

Spending valuable time on professional development is essential to your career growth and your organization's development. By scheduling Management Track workshops further in advance, you can better plan and coordinate your professional development activities and get dates on your calendar.

Plus, we encourage Management Track workshops as preparation for (and follow-up to) a Leader Academy experience.

Your professional development is in your hands. Plan now to make 2016 a growing year (visit our calendar).


Once again, a challenge arrives that stops you in your tracks. What do you do? Where do you turn

Help! I need somebody

You’re the only one in your organization who does this work – a lone ranger. Be it fundraising, communications, executive leadership, program manager – you need to talk through this challenge with someone who gets it.

Help! Not just anybody

After combing the internet, you find information. Some of it may be helpful…you’re just not sure. The more info you find, the more you time you spend, generates as many questions as it does possible answers. So frustrating!

Help! You know I need someone

Do not hesitate to contact ONEplace. We were created by area foundations and nonprofit leaders to offer direct assistance to nonprofit staff and volunteers. You face a challenge and you need to talk it through, to make sense of it, and to set a reasonable course of action. Don’t remain stuck – call (269-553-7899) or email (



P.S. Enjoy this video of the Beatles singing “Help” on British TV.

ONE Leader Development

ONEplace believes that a strong nonprofit sector is critical to the success of any community. We encourage everyone to be a leader (i.e., take full ownership of their role) within his or her own span of control and sphere of influence.

We envision a day when a critical mass of Resolute-Humble Leaders (i.e., Level 5 Leaders) is spread throughout our area, collaborating to successfully address deeply entrenched community problems. Success is not understood as solving a problem once and for all. Rather, success is a state of continual improvement in which a community admits and addresses their problems in a spirit of hope and unity.

As a catalyst for community success, ONEplace focuses on Leader Development that 


  • addresses the whole person, because we bring all of who we are to every situation
  • encourages personal integrity, because aligning values and actions energizes one’s voice and agency
  • builds collaborative connections, because only together do we bring sufficient capacity to the table


ONEplace offers leader development programs for emerging leaders at all levels of your organization. Thanks to the generosity of local foundations, all ONEplace programs are free of charge.

Highly Capable Individual – Available 24/7, ONEpages web-based resources address single topic concerns affecting most nonprofits. Our Video Series also provides convenient, focused instruction on fundraising, communications, governance, and more. For those new concerns or challenges, contact our staff for Direct Assistance with your issue.

Competent ManagerManagement Track series address knowledge and skills critical for management success, including: Supervision, Fundraising, Operational Processes, Team Building, Marketing and more. Our Peer Learning Groups bring motivated managers together to learn and grow in a collaborative environment, while deepening their own sense of passion and commitment. For emerging leaders with their sights set on executive leadership, our ONEplace Nonprofit Leader Academy offers a ten-month, intensive course in leading an organization.

Effective LeaderPeer Learning Groups provide a needed space for executive leaders to reconnect and renew themselves in a supportive and collaborative environment. In addition, new CEO’s are offered six months of free coaching to help them navigate their personal and organizational transition.

ONEplace also offers LIFEwork Renewal, a self-guided, personal development program open to all that encourages and equips healthier, happier, more productive living. Daily attention to quiet, exercise, diet, and learning, coupled with quarterly day retreat opportunities provide the framework to bring greater focus and energy to one’s work and life.

Many of the above elements are in place and a few will continue to roll out this winter. As always, please contact us with any questions.

ONEplace Nonprofit Leader Academy 2016

Applications are now available for the ONEplace Nonprofit Leader Academy 2016. Offered in nine monthly sessions, the Academy helps prepare emerging nonprofit leaders for executive leadership.

The Academy offers leader development in a reflective environment. Each session is a full day-away at an area retreat center. Morning hours include interactive discussion and instruction on topics critical to nonprofit success, such as governance, ethics, fundraising, finances, and supervision. In the afternoon, we process and apply the information to our current and perceived future work environments.

Threading itself throughout the Academy is a focus on self-understanding and self-development. Leaders not only need the knowledge and skills to do the job, they also need the fortitude, resilience, and chutzpah to get the job done. So, we spend time on self-awareness – examining our strengths and barriers to doing what needs to be done. Each participant develops an action plan for the time of the Academy as well as another action plan for the months immediately following the Academy.

As preparation and follow-up to an Academy experience, ONEplace offers Management Track workshops, Peer Learning Groups, and other events. Leaders are lifelong learners. They continually attend to keeping up-to-date with information as well as developing the skills and wisdom necessary to envision, inspire, and encourage.

For more on the 2016 Academy, visit our website. Applications are due Friday, November 13.

ONEplace Leader Development

 “In the end, we realize that leadership develop is ultimately self-development.”

This quote from the Leadership Challenge (now in its 5th edition) names what’s at the core of our leader development efforts. Each of us brings all of who we are to every situation. While some aspects may be on the front burner and others more near the back, every pot is on the stove. If a back burner pot boils over, it impacts the entire stove top.

While skill development and content knowledge play a critical role in leadership, self-development occupies at least 50% of the pie chart. Skills and knowledge must be continually developed. Yet, self-development provides the fortitude, resilience and chutzpah to put the skills and knowledge into use. 

By identifying our strengths, acknowledging our deficits, engaging our passions, and facing our fears, we find the courage to take a position, admit our mistakes, and initiate the tough conversation. We allow ourselves to be vulnerable because we’ve developed the interior stability and wisdom to take it.

At ONEplace we’ve been providing skill development and knowledge building workshops and series. This fall, we’re taking the next big step and implementing programs that directly address self-development. 

Peer Learning Groups 

Groups meet monthly for 90 minutes over an eight-month period (Sept – April). At each session, you focus, without distraction, on what matters to you: your values and vision, your challenges and fears. You’ll gain greater access to your own wisdom. You’ll connect with others who listen to and encourage each other, and honor each other’s differences. (more)


This self-guided program recognizes that we bring all of who we are to every situation. LIFEwork draws together easy-to-understand concepts and intuitive practices so you can focus your energy on the single challenge of developing new, healthier habits. Support is offered (not required) through social media connections and quarterly day-long retreats. (more)

Like the famed tortoise, progress is achieved in small, slow steps over a long period of time. It requires commitment because it’s more a lifestyle than a program. ONEplace is here to encourage and equip you on this path.

Do the generous thing

My work grants me the privilege of working with many boards. It’s been great to work with boards involved in food security, the arts, housing, health, the environment, community welfare, and more. One thing continually impresses me about boards of directors:

they are extremely generous people.

Board members give – hugely – of their time, talent, and treasure. Their passion and commitment fill the room with a palpable spirit. When I ask, “What do you love about your organization?” each person beams as they given genuine expression to that spirit. It’s a pleasure to behold.

The same may be said for our area’s executive directors (EDs) as well. With the weight of the organization on their shoulders, EDs give richly of themselves at every turn. To hear one speak openly of their concern and commitment stirs the heart, and to gain insight into the myriad of things they do behind the scenes inspires the soul.

So, it’s painful to see how disconnects between Boards and EDs can rattle an organization.

Everyone plays a part. According to BridgeSpan, BoardSource, and other references, Boards carry the responsibility to “support and evaluate the executive director,” and EDs carry the responsibility to “develop, maintain, and support” the board. When communication fails, that mutual support often shatters into shards of shaky accusations and puzzled disbelief.

All parties end up hurt and disillusioned. It’s very sad.

If you’re feeling even an inkling of this disconnect, then have a meeting and name it. Take the lead and set intentional steps to improve communication. Don’t wait for someone else to act. As seen above, if you’re an ED or a board member, it’s your responsibility.

Not sure how to start? Feeling stuck? Please contact ONEplace before it goes any further. Each day that a problem isn’t addressed adds another degree of difficulty to implementing a solution.

Take the lead. Make the call. It’s the generous thing to do.