Solving the Leadership Gap-Giving Shy People The Strength To Get Up And Do What Needs To Be Done

Recently, I had a phone conversation with the president of a nonprofit and he said, “Kirk we need a new board of directors.” 

I asked him to tell me about their current board. He said they were enthusiastic and supportive during their meetings, but they were not helping out with  development. He then explained that he asked them to go to a board training workshop sponsored by a leading nonprofit.   They all enjoyed it immensely and reported they learned a lot but they didn’t do anything different after the training.

This was a classic case of what we call in the sales industry of “call reluctance.” 

Fuller Center board members are charged with the task of recruiting donors, volunteers and filling board and committees who are the hands and feet of our housing ministry. As our President David Snell likes to say, “This is a righteous undertaking.” We represent the compassion of Christ for people in need of decent shelter.

How would you know if your team members are suffering from call reluctance? Ask your board a simple question:

How many appointments do you have set up this month to talk about The Fuller Center?

This question is the same whether they are tasked to prospecting individuals, businesses, service organizations or churches. The best boards hold themselves accountable to this question.
The truth is that call reluctance comes in many forms and everyone has it. I include myself in this universal challenge.  I often remind myself that Millard Fuller built this movement before we had emails, the Internet or Facebook. Much to the surprise of my children, I remember those days. And I also remember how connected Millard made us feel without those tools.  Having a killer website or Facebook group page is helpful, but it doesn’t build houses. People do and we’ve found they respond best to one-on-one invitations.

Below is a list of some of the common types of call reluctance and a few thoughts in how to overcome our shyness about sharing our story and the needs of our families we serve:

  •           Over preparing
                        Often a sales person spends way too much time trying to learn about their product, their competitor’s product, or about their prospect. They never feel they have studied enough to make the call. Ecclesiastes 11:4 reminds us If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done. Being prepared is helpful, but it is more important to listen and learn about your prospect from them in the meeting. Once you have heard firsthand about their needs and aspirations then it will be time to share what you have to offer. Successful sales people are great listeners.
  •           Stage fright
                   Relax. Breathe… as a friend often reminds me. Your audience wants you to have a
                   successful presentation. If you believe in the importance of your ministry, your
                   passion and energy will help you overcome butterflies and you will be well received.

  •           Fear of failure
                        I think the following Michael Jordan quote is helpful for this one: 
                   I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26
                   times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over
                   and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.

  •           Low self-image
                        Often we find ourselves comparing our non-profit to other charities. Other charities are
                   not our competition, they are our prospective collaborators. A few days ago some folks
                   from Habitat for Humanity joined us for one of our board meetings. They timidly
                   introduced themselves and shared where they worked. I said, “Don’t be embarrassed,
                   we LOVE Habitat… We invented Habitat!” The laughter around the room diffused their
                   anxiety and I said “You are welcome and among friends here.” 

                   All organizations have unique program and capacity differences but this doesn’t matter
                   to a family in need of our assistance. There is no need for low-self esteem in a
                   righteous undertaking. God abundantly loves us and the people we are called to serve. 

  •           Fear of rejection
                         One of my favorite Millard Fuller quotes is:

                    We have tried asking and we have tried not asking. What we found out was that we
                    got more when we asked.

                    We heard him use that humorous line quite often. What he communicated with that
                    message was that he turned his fear of rejection into a fear of regret. It was okay
                    to be rejected, and turned down. But it was not okay to live with the regret of not
                    trying on behalf of our partner families who were on our long waiting lists living in
                    shacks and trailers or even homeless. Regret for not trying was a far worse problem.


Finally, what we all need is a batch of Garrison Keillor’s special Powdermilk Biscuits. I love their slogan-

"Made from whole wheat raised in the rich bottomlands of the Lake Wobegon river valley by Norwegian bachelor farmers, so you know they’re not only good for you, but also pure, mostly" which "give shy persons the strength to get up and do what needs to be done.
Heavens, they’re tasty and expeditious."

Come on down to Americus, we’re baking them right now! 

PS   If you feel the need to turn down my invitation to breakfast, you might still want to enjoy this PowerPoint called “How To Make The Ask” by Beverly Black our Director of Donor Development.

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